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Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women”—the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom… When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women”—the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom… When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang’s scheme. Camilla is trained in singing, dancing, knife-throwing and contortion—all to attract the attention of Wang’s enemy, the ruthless Master Lung. Forced to become Master Lung’s mistress, Camilla meets two other intriguing women. Shadow is a magician and rival for Master Lung’s affections, while Rainbow Chang dresses like a man and wields power through her incendiary gossip column. Both pose risks to Camilla’s safety and status. But an even greater danger comes in the form of Master Lung’s eldest son, Jinying, who despises his father’s violent lifestyle—but loves Camilla. Only by plotting to eliminate Lung can she make her escape, but at what cost?


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Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women”—the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom… When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women”—the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom… When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang’s scheme. Camilla is trained in singing, dancing, knife-throwing and contortion—all to attract the attention of Wang’s enemy, the ruthless Master Lung. Forced to become Master Lung’s mistress, Camilla meets two other intriguing women. Shadow is a magician and rival for Master Lung’s affections, while Rainbow Chang dresses like a man and wields power through her incendiary gossip column. Both pose risks to Camilla’s safety and status. But an even greater danger comes in the form of Master Lung’s eldest son, Jinying, who despises his father’s violent lifestyle—but loves Camilla. Only by plotting to eliminate Lung can she make her escape, but at what cost?

30 review for Skeleton Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest SKELETON WOMEN is a book I've had my eye on for a while and bought only recently when the price dropped to $1.99. The title comes from (allegedly) the Chinese word for "femme fatale," or skeleton woman, which is a deadly woman whose touch literally kills men (i.e. turning them into skeletons). SKELETON WOMEN is about three "skeleton women," Camilla, the heroine, who is a singer and contortionist; Rainbow, a queer and cross-dressing woman Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest SKELETON WOMEN is a book I've had my eye on for a while and bought only recently when the price dropped to $1.99. The title comes from (allegedly) the Chinese word for "femme fatale," or skeleton woman, which is a deadly woman whose touch literally kills men (i.e. turning them into skeletons). SKELETON WOMEN is about three "skeleton women," Camilla, the heroine, who is a singer and contortionist; Rainbow, a queer and cross-dressing woman who is a reporter; and Shadow, a stage magician and Camilla's top rival. Set in 1930s Shanghai, SKELETON WOMEN focuses on Camilla's secret role as mistress to one of Shanghai's biggest crime bosses, Lung. Camilla is actually a spy put in Lung's household by another rival crime boss named Wang, who saved Camilla from being an orphan and expects Lung's death in return. She's Lung's "lucky star," and he's sort of in love with her, but unfortunately so is Lung's son and bodyguard, which makes her cover extra precarious, because it's just more to hide. I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I'm a sucker for historical fiction revolving around intrigue and the idea of a woman being a mistress to a crime boss is a topic that's still heavily explored in new adult romance to this day, so obviously that's a topic that hasn't been tapped out. Most of those are self-published and I'm not crazy about them because they tend to be characterized rather shallowly and have stilted writing, but then, SKELETON WOMEN was traditionally published and had those same problems. I'm not sure if it's because Camilla was so emotionally removed as a character of it was just bad writing, but I'm leaning more towards bad writing because of some of the truly odd descriptions and writing choices that were made by the author in this book. I skimmed to the end, not really engaged but invested enough that I wanted to see how everything panned out. I think people who like those new adult mafia books might like this more than I did. It's definitely got some shocking and edgy scenes. Lung allegedly fed his previous mistress to tigers and at one point Camilla ruminates on all the methods of traditional Chinese torture she might face if she's caught out. She also attempts to commit suicide after watching Madame Butterfly, a scene made (perhaps unintentionally) more chilling by how rote and unemotional it is in the text. I think this could have been a really good book if the writing hadn't been so clunky and more of Camilla's character was allowed to shine through the pages. But again, I'm not sure if that was intentional, since I know how emotion and individuality is expressed can vary across cultures, and I wasn't sure if maybe this was an intentional move that I didn't get due to cross-cultural differences. It was an interesting effort and others may enjoy it more, but it wasn't really my cup of tea. 2 to 2.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    drey

    I really looked forward to reading Skeleton Women, how awesome it would be to read about 1930s Shanghai! What we have between the covers is a story of love, wrapped up in survival, loss, confusion, and danger. What’s not to like? The stiff prose, for one. Constant repetition. Overuse of quotes from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War – which highlights the disparity between what she thinks she ought to do, and what she actually does. Camilla’s complete self-absorption isn’t appealing either. She’s beautiful I really looked forward to reading Skeleton Women, how awesome it would be to read about 1930s Shanghai! What we have between the covers is a story of love, wrapped up in survival, loss, confusion, and danger. What’s not to like? The stiff prose, for one. Constant repetition. Overuse of quotes from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War – which highlights the disparity between what she thinks she ought to do, and what she actually does. Camilla’s complete self-absorption isn’t appealing either. She’s beautiful and can sing like an angel, but there’s nothing else to her. Maybe it’s a product of her upbringing, maybe it’s a consequence of what she’s been tasked to do, but Camilla is cold and some would say heartless too. As for the other characters, they’re all pretty one-dimensional. Shadow and Rainbow are supposed to be Camilla’s nemeses, yet have little (Shadow) to almost no (Rainbow) “screen time”. Brother Wang is just a threatening voice on the other end of the telephone line. Master Lung is a stereotypical gangster. And his son Jinying – so melodramatic! The plot is basic, the premise is good, and I wish the execution would’ve been more – more lyrical, more soulful, more compassionate… As it is, I didn’t care for Camilla, Jinying, Gao, or any of the other characters. *sigh* I don’t like it when I don’t enjoy a book, it completely defeats the whole purpose to the act of reading. And I know that I’m only one in an ocean of readers. So. I’m going to give away my copy of Skeleton Women, because maybe you’ll see something in it that I didn’t, and love it. drey’s rating: Ok (only because I did finish it)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Breslin White

    You know how some novels are overly wordy? Or a little trite in their presentation, so you get the idea the person who wrote them hasn't been out much? This novel avoids these problems and remains agreeably no-nonsense. You know how some novels are overly wordy? Or a little trite in their presentation, so you get the idea the person who wrote them hasn't been out much? This novel avoids these problems and remains agreeably no-nonsense.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Harvee

    Skeleton women appear in North American myths - the Inuit, Hopi, Alaskan Eskimo, and other stories as symbols of relationships, and of life and death in nature. In Mingmei Yip's novel set in early 1900s Shanghai, Skeleton Women refer to women who are trained spies, beautiful assassins and courtesans who seduce their male victims in order to eventually turn them into skeletons of death. And yet, the orphan Camilla, who was trained to be such a deceiver by her boss Master Wang, finds it difficult t Skeleton women appear in North American myths - the Inuit, Hopi, Alaskan Eskimo, and other stories as symbols of relationships, and of life and death in nature. In Mingmei Yip's novel set in early 1900s Shanghai, Skeleton Women refer to women who are trained spies, beautiful assassins and courtesans who seduce their male victims in order to eventually turn them into skeletons of death. And yet, the orphan Camilla, who was trained to be such a deceiver by her boss Master Wang, finds it difficult to dispose of Wang's rival Master Lung as she is ordered to do. She must first find out all his financial secrets and where he stores his important papers and bank books. This is gang rivalry after all, and Wang intends to be the top man in Shanghai after defeating and disposing of his main rival, through the use of Camilla. The author quotes extensively from two Chinese classics by Sun Tzu, written more than 2,000 years ago - The Art of War and the essay The Thirty-Six Stratagems, which is described as "an essay used to illustrate a series of stratagems used in politics, war, as well as in civil interaction, often through unorthodox or deceptive means." Although Sun Tzu probably wrote for men, her character Camilla knows these works very well and uses the advice and strategies for her own means. The novel is peppered throughout with Chinese sayings or aphorisms that reflect Camilla's own dilemmas, her observation of people or situations, and her plan of action. What also made this book enjoyable to read was the author's frequent inclusion of famous Chinese poetry and songs, words that mirror or reflect her feelings or situation. I also liked that Camilla gradually changes from being callous and unfeeling to developing genuine love and feelings of human friendship as her life story goes on. How she deals with the twin rocks of disaster between which she is caught is the tension that also kept my interest in the novel. A book I highly recommend for those interested in women's fiction, historical fiction, romance, and the poetry and some of the classics of Chinese literature.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Kensington|May 29, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7582-7353-6 Story Description: Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women” – the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom…When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang’s scheme. Camilla Kensington|May 29, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7582-7353-6 Story Description: Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women” – the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom…When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang’s scheme. Camilla is trained in singing, dancing, knife-throwing and contortion – all to attract the attention of Wang’s enemy, the ruthless Master Lung. Forced to become Master Lung’s mistress, Camilla meets two other intriguing women. Shadow is a magician and rival for Master Lung’s affections, while Rainbow Chang dresses like a man and wields power through her incendiary gossip column. Both pose risks to Camilla’s safety and status. But an even greater danger comes in the form of Master Lung’s eldest son, Jinying, who despises his father’s violent lifestyle – but loves Camilla. Only by plotting to eliminate Lung can she make her escape, but at what cost? Mingmei Yip author of Peach Blossom Pavilion and Song of the Silk Road has created a captivating story filled with intrigue and opulence, peopled with extraordinary characters impossible to forget. My Review: I’ve always said that Mingmei Yip’s Song of the Silk Road was my favourite of her novels but I must say after reading Skeleton Women they’re running even at this point! What a phenomenal novel!! Nineteen-year-old Camilla was adopted as a young orphan by a gang leader named Brother Wang who once Camilla reached her teenage years schooled her in contortionism, knife-throwing, singing, and dancing. She is a spy for Wang and has ingratiated herself into Master Lung’s world and become his main squeeze. With her beauty, amazing singing voice, and her tiny twenty-one inch waist, the old man can’t help but love her. Her mission is to kill him or be killed by Wang. He wants to take over Master Lung’s empire as the toughest gangster in Shanghai, but how is she going to do accomplish this? Thrown into the mix in Master Lung’s own son, Jinying who was schooled at Harvard and has fallen madly in love with Camilla and wants to take her away from his father whom he despises and live somewhere together but Camilla is trapped into her mission and can’t reveal anything to him. Camilla also meets two adversaries: one is Shadow, a magician who also wants to be Master Lung’s number one main squeeze and at times sets up Camilla to take a fall. Then there is Rainbow Chang, a woman who dresses like a man and is a newspaper journalist who uses her columns to duke it out between Camilla and Shadow stirring up the pot and causing trouble. It’s amazing how “words” can cause so many difficulties. The only way Camilla is going to escape this horrible world of gangsters she tangled in is to plot to kill Master Lung but how is she going to do that and what will it cost her? The characters are well-developed and the storyline is amazing and reads quite fast. So much is going on you won’t be able to put the book down and you’ll be turning the last page before you know it. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone. Great job Mingmei!!! At the end of the book there are some fantastic book discussion questions that will really get you back into the story and picking it apart layer by layer by answering them. Just fabulous!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Mingmei Yip is an excellent story teller! I love her books. Every character is beautifully written and the picture is perfectly seen. I have been reading romance books so this was a nice break but Skeleton Woman does have a little romance in it, a forbidden romance The main character, Chamilla is a very talented, exquisite young woman who calls herself a skeleton woman but she also has many other talents. Talents which she uses to manipulate men into getting what she wants. Her boss, Big Brother Mingmei Yip is an excellent story teller! I love her books. Every character is beautifully written and the picture is perfectly seen. I have been reading romance books so this was a nice break but Skeleton Woman does have a little romance in it, a forbidden romance The main character, Chamilla is a very talented, exquisite young woman who calls herself a skeleton woman but she also has many other talents. Talents which she uses to manipulate men into getting what she wants. Her boss, Big Brother Wang is the leader of a powerful gang, a gang that is similar to the mafia. His mission is to find out secret information and kill his rival gang leader, Master Lung. This is where Chamilla comes in to use her beguiling ways. But Chamilla has a few blocks in her way. Shadow -- a mysterious young woman, comes out of nowhere and performs the most amazing magic trick that has the whole town talking. Chamilla is intrigued and finds out that Shadow is a big problem and she has to figure out how to use Shadow to her advantage. Chamilla's other road block is Rainbow Chang. Rainbow Chang is a naughty vixen ha! Who stirs up trouble. If you love a good mystery with lots of intrigue, you gotta read this one!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Skeleton Women is set in the ever-fascinating 1930s Shanghai. The heroine Camilla is a 19 year old singer/spy who is kept by one gangster boss to set up the hit of another gangster boss. In the mix are a femme fatale Eurasian magician and a cross-dressing gossip columnist. Where else but in Shanghai, right? The two gangster bosses are brutal, but a strong bodyguard and the Harvard-educated son of the targeted mob boss show Camilla the kindness and attention she's missed her whole life. Although I' Skeleton Women is set in the ever-fascinating 1930s Shanghai. The heroine Camilla is a 19 year old singer/spy who is kept by one gangster boss to set up the hit of another gangster boss. In the mix are a femme fatale Eurasian magician and a cross-dressing gossip columnist. Where else but in Shanghai, right? The two gangster bosses are brutal, but a strong bodyguard and the Harvard-educated son of the targeted mob boss show Camilla the kindness and attention she's missed her whole life. Although I've read my share of novels set in 1930s Shanghai, Skeleton Women kept me curious until the last page. After a finale that only John Woo could outdo, Camilla leaves the glamour of the Bund behind and sets sail for the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. I'm already anxious to read the sequel!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lora

    This novel speaks to the souls and hearts of women in all cultures. Mingmei Yip manages to juxtapose two images of the Chinese culture. The lovely referencing of cultural symbols, taboos and customs versus the harsh realities of being raised as a female orphan in a chinese gang culture; having to witness unspeakable atrocities and commit crimes to survive. The main character "Camilla" is simultaneously endearing, vulnerable and invincible. She is a positive symbol of hope that any woman can over This novel speaks to the souls and hearts of women in all cultures. Mingmei Yip manages to juxtapose two images of the Chinese culture. The lovely referencing of cultural symbols, taboos and customs versus the harsh realities of being raised as a female orphan in a chinese gang culture; having to witness unspeakable atrocities and commit crimes to survive. The main character "Camilla" is simultaneously endearing, vulnerable and invincible. She is a positive symbol of hope that any woman can overcome a difficult life or any obstacle...Wonderful and touching book!!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lynn Penkert

    I Love This Book. Everything about it I get so locked into it. The main character Camilla. How she makes men grovel at her feet and the way she manipulates them. Men who fall for not only her beauty, but her deception. The spy world surrounding her in Shanghai. The way she responds to other women that she thinks of as a threat or competition. It's one of those books that I can't stop reading till I'm done. I Love This Book. Everything about it I get so locked into it. The main character Camilla. How she makes men grovel at her feet and the way she manipulates them. Men who fall for not only her beauty, but her deception. The spy world surrounding her in Shanghai. The way she responds to other women that she thinks of as a threat or competition. It's one of those books that I can't stop reading till I'm done.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paperback Dolls

    Originally posted at PaperbackDolls.com. I was lucky enough to meet Mingmei Yip at the 2010 Romantic Times Convention in Columbus, Ohio. She was on a panel for multicultural creative writing along with L.A. Banks and Barry Eisler. From her very first description of her book, Peach Blossom Pavilion, I was hooked. Throughout the panel I learned many things about Mingmei Yip as a writer and a person. I learned that she is quite the Renaissance woman, having written adult and children’s books as well Originally posted at PaperbackDolls.com. I was lucky enough to meet Mingmei Yip at the 2010 Romantic Times Convention in Columbus, Ohio. She was on a panel for multicultural creative writing along with L.A. Banks and Barry Eisler. From her very first description of her book, Peach Blossom Pavilion, I was hooked. Throughout the panel I learned many things about Mingmei Yip as a writer and a person. I learned that she is quite the Renaissance woman, having written adult and children’s books as well as being a skill Qin player and artist. I immediately purchased copies of her novels Peach Blossom Pavilion and Petals from the Sky and a grand love affair with her work began. Last summer I was overjoyed to pick up a copy of her book Song of the Silk Road and this year I was over the moon that she actually asked ME to review her latest novel, Skeleton Women. As a longtime fan you can imagine how exciting it was to be personally contacted by one of my favorite authors and to receive an advance copy of the book that I was eagerly awaiting. The works of Mingmei Yip have always captivated me and before I even read the first page I was certain that Skeleton Women would surely enthrall me from start to finish. In 1930s China, the underworld of mafia was at its peak. Femme fatales (also known as skeleton women) were the secret weapons of gangs, so named because their charms and beauty often brought death upon their victims who became nothing more than skeletons. Beautiful lounge singer Camilla wasn’t always a rich and respected woman. Her humble beginnings were that of an orphan who was later adopted by Brother Wang (head of the Red Demons gang) for the sole purpose of luring Master Lung (head of the Flying Dragons gang) to his death. When she is forced to become Master Lung’s mistress she meets two other skeleton women, Rainbow (the head of a gossip column) and Shadow (a magician who rivals Camilla for Master Lung’s affections.) Both of these skeleton women cause Camilla to be on high alert, for her safety and status are soon at risk. But the biggest threat to her mission is Jinying, Master Lung’s son who has returned from Harvard to not only fall for Camilla but to capture her affections in return. The only way that Camilla can escape is to plot the demise of Master Lung, but at what cost is she willing to sacrifice for true love? As always, Mingmei Yip did not disappoint. Skeleton Women is a dynamic novel jam-packed with action, suspense, romance, lust, scheming, and twists and turns. This was an incredibly well written novel that not only captures the setting of China but it also manages to pull you into the 1930s and make you feel like you are an outsider looking in on the gangs of Shanghai. The characters are not only complex but also have the ability to evoke an array of emotions in the reader. Some of the characters of lovable, some loathsome, and some are in between. The plot for this book is original and mesmerizes the reader from page one to the very last sentence. Mingmei Yip proves once again why she is a master of creative writing, suspense, and romance.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jillyn

    I received this book through Goodreads First Reads. An orphan, lead character Camilla was brought up & trained to be a spy by a gang, mastering strategies & skills (such as knife throwing, singing, & contortions) that make her a skeleton woman, or a Chinese femme fatale. Gang leader Big Brother Wang secures her a place in the 1930's nightlife scene of Shanghai as a lounge singer of great esteem. But all of this loveliness is only to gain the attention of rival gang leader, Master Lung. She must c I received this book through Goodreads First Reads. An orphan, lead character Camilla was brought up & trained to be a spy by a gang, mastering strategies & skills (such as knife throwing, singing, & contortions) that make her a skeleton woman, or a Chinese femme fatale. Gang leader Big Brother Wang secures her a place in the 1930's nightlife scene of Shanghai as a lounge singer of great esteem. But all of this loveliness is only to gain the attention of rival gang leader, Master Lung. She must climb the fragile ladder to become his number one- and then destroy him, lest Big Brother Wang destroy her. Walking on glass shards, Camilla grows suspicious of two other "skeleton women". One is named Rainbow, who as a journalist makes or breaks a reputation with the stroke of a pen. The other is named Shadow, a magician as mysterious as her name who threatens Camilla as the number one show in Shanghai. All of this is thrust into further complication when the emotionless to-be assassin starts to feel for Master Lung's own son. But in her life of deception, masks, & strategy- Can she walk away from this feud with her life? This book is mesmerizing. I can think of no better word for it. Before even cracking it open, this book is beautiful. The cover is bright & striking, it would definitely catch my eye upon a shelf. The novel itself is written beautifully. It's poetic & vivid, reading almost like a song. The use of Chinese sayings & proverbs, as well as quotes from other books, make frequent appearances. It adds a nice sprinkling of culture to the intriguing story. No sentence is superfluous- each & every word serves a purpose, making the story more engrossing. There is never a dull moment, & I found myself often exclaiming "What?!?" to myself, in the best of ways. I was kept on my toes until I ran out of pages, & even now I hunger for more of Camilla's story. This story is a perfect balance of sex, espionage, drama, & suspense. The characters are very relatable, & I adore the fact that this plot is headed by powerful women. It's a very welcome change from my usual reads. Plus, this edition comes with a reading group guide, perfect for those reader's looking to spark conversation at their book club. In short, I found this book just as dazzling as Shadow's magic act. I recommend it to no particular audience, but to anyone who loves a wonderfully written story. I have never read the work of Mingmei Yip before, but now that I've gotten a taste, Skeleton Women will not be the last book of hers that I consume.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Hines

    First, I want to gush about the cover of Mingmei's newest release. It's sexy, sophisticated and secretive. I absolutely love it! Skeleton Women is what femme fatale's are addressed as in China. This is about three such women, Camilla, Rainbow and Miss Shadow. Camilla is the main character, an orphan who was adopted by organized crime and trained for one goal only - to kill Master Lung. She yearns for someone to love and to reciprocate but knows to get out of the gangster family, she either needs First, I want to gush about the cover of Mingmei's newest release. It's sexy, sophisticated and secretive. I absolutely love it! Skeleton Women is what femme fatale's are addressed as in China. This is about three such women, Camilla, Rainbow and Miss Shadow. Camilla is the main character, an orphan who was adopted by organized crime and trained for one goal only - to kill Master Lung. She yearns for someone to love and to reciprocate but knows to get out of the gangster family, she either needs to do what she was raised for, or die trying. Rainbow Chang is a gossip columnist who can make or break a person just with the stroke of her pen. Shadow is a magician who wants Master Lung for herself and doesn't care who is in her way. Camilla doesn't love Master Lung, she is there to do a job, but to break from her covert operation would be suicide. Not to mention that Master Lung's son is home from Harvard and he stirs something deep within her heart. Camilla must walk on eggshells around the other two Skeleton Women to complete her mission, but at what cost? Stocked with action, suspense, romance, plot twists and vivid attention to details of Shanghai in the Nineteen Thirties, Skeleton Women is a feather in Mingmei's cap! I read Song of the Silk Road when it came out, and it was excellent, but Skeleton Women is incredible and on a different level. I really empathized with Camilla and was firmly in her corner, hoping she would find happiness in such a desolate situation. A spellbinding novel that is sure to be a best-seller, don't miss this beautifully written novel!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Along the same lines as Lisa See's stories, this is a great book about women in Shanghai, China. The characters of Camilla and Shadow are fascinating. This book was hard to put down and the ending was great. Highly recommend. Along the same lines as Lisa See's stories, this is a great book about women in Shanghai, China. The characters of Camilla and Shadow are fascinating. This book was hard to put down and the ending was great. Highly recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    It is a very interesting book which shows you how the women in china in after world war 2 had to survive.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Norma Hides

    Great read , entertaining and informative

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephonour

    400 pages in 1.5 days; don't mind if I do. 400 pages in 1.5 days; don't mind if I do.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kring Lacson

    1.5 stars for this one. I have a big bias towards novels penned by Asian authors. These writers just have a way of making their craft poetic: the syntax, simplicity, and setting of their work combine together to form a graceful, fluid prose. Yup, you could say that I had high hopes for Skeleton Women. But perhaps I expected too much. I was upset when I finished the novel; I thought the ending would have some sort of redeeming factor which would turn my whole opinion of the book around. It did not 1.5 stars for this one. I have a big bias towards novels penned by Asian authors. These writers just have a way of making their craft poetic: the syntax, simplicity, and setting of their work combine together to form a graceful, fluid prose. Yup, you could say that I had high hopes for Skeleton Women. But perhaps I expected too much. I was upset when I finished the novel; I thought the ending would have some sort of redeeming factor which would turn my whole opinion of the book around. It did not. So what made this book a disaster? One, the prose. Skeleton Women is so repetitive; it keeps going back to the lessons the protagonist learned while she was training to become a spy. It was as if the book thought that we, its readers, were children that needed to be constantly guided on the reasons behind why the protagonist acted the way she did. We're not that forgetful, of course we get why she has to be secretive! Two, the characters. The book has a major problem with giving characters strong and consistent personalities. I'll list some examples below. There's the main antagonist. The top honcho of Shanghai's underground world, he turns from cruel and murderous to sweet and compliant when around the protagonist, who is his mistress. Seriously, would any mafia boss be that kind and off-guard as long as he's with his lover? Not only that, the book milked on this quirk of his; the plot would go nowhere if not for the weak creation of his character. Then there's the protagonist. She has a weak spirit, really; she chooses to escape a lot of the problems that she encounters. Why, she even escaped from the MAIN problem and from the CLIMAX of the book! She's a protagonist who chooses to ignore her problems, who lets other people solve it for her. Three, the plot. Oh god, so many wrong things with this one... Skeleton Women introduces two of the protagonists rivals, Rainbow and Shadow. You'd think the rivalry would go somewhere... but it doesn't. The two just melt away, not becoming great obstacles to the protagonist's life when they should've been. What gives? All they did was give the protag some minor headaches. Then there's that ridiculous love square (yup lol) between the protag and three men. I can't see how she managed to date all three of them, given that these men are so closely connected to one another. The book also covers a lot of assassination attempts which are downright...sad. These attempts weren't complex, they were plain and tacky. It'll anger you, because these attempts were supposed to be made by one of Shanghai's biggest mafias. But believe me, the plans shown in the book were so simple that any person could have thought of them. Yes, I am deeply upset with this book. The last time I've been this upset was when I read Tetsuo Miura's Shame in the Blood. But at least the only thing that I disliked about the latter was its inconclusive ending. With this one, everything was just upsetting. That's it. No more Mingmei Yip books for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tiffani

    Camilla, the Heavenly Songbird with the angelic voice, is a skeleton women - a beautiful woman trained to seduce men, uncover their secrets, and if necessary, reduce them to corpses. She was plucked from an orphanage as a child and groomed to be the perfect spy. Her mission: to discover the secrets of the number one gangster in town, Master Lung, for her boss Big Brother Wang, the number two gangster in town. At the tender age of nineteen, Camilla has become a celebrated singer in Shanghai and M Camilla, the Heavenly Songbird with the angelic voice, is a skeleton women - a beautiful woman trained to seduce men, uncover their secrets, and if necessary, reduce them to corpses. She was plucked from an orphanage as a child and groomed to be the perfect spy. Her mission: to discover the secrets of the number one gangster in town, Master Lung, for her boss Big Brother Wang, the number two gangster in town. At the tender age of nineteen, Camilla has become a celebrated singer in Shanghai and Master Lung's mistress. Although she has been Master Lung's mistress for nearly a year, she has yet to complete her mission and Big Brother Wang is becoming impatient. Complicating matters are the amorous advances of two other men and the arrival of two women Camilla suspects to also be skeleton women, the mysterious magician Shadow and the androgynous journalist Rainbow Chang. But Camilla is not to be deterred. Using Sun Tzu's The Art of War to guide her, Camilla is determined to navigate her way through the choppy waters she finds herself in. Skeleton Women was not quite what I expected. I was all set for a femme fatale thriller set in 1930s (or so) Shanghai, China. I'm not exactly sure what this is, but it wasn't that. There were lots of good ideas in this book, but they didn't go anywhere. Rainbow Chang and Shadow are good examples of this. Shadow is set up to be a skeleton woman to rival Camilla but she never is really much of a challenge to Camilla. All she appears to want is to become rich and famous. As for Rainbow Chang, much is made of her androgynous style of dressing but why this is an important detail is never explained or used to any effect. Then there are the multiple men who profess their undying love for Camilla. None of it ever felt real. They seemed more to exist to validate Camilla's status as a skeleton woman capable of seducing men. The biggest problem with Skeleton Women was the tone. If she fails to fulfill her mission, Big Brother Wang might decide Camilla no longer serves any purpose and have her killed. If Master Lung discovers her mission he will definitely kill her, so for Camilla the stakes are high. Nevertheless, between the constant quoting from the Art of War, that Camilla approached everyone and every situation like it was a game of chess, and every other man falling in love with Camilla, it wasn't always clear if this was intended to be a comedy, a satire, or a realistic story. I think this story would have benefited from having a character that challenged Camilla's point of view. Without such a character to contradict her (or to contrast and compare her to), Camilla often seemed less like an adult women caught in a battle between two dangerous men, and more like a child playing a dress up game where she is the most popular and beautiful girl in town. I just couldn't tell if I should be taking Camilla seriously, or laughing at her blunders, or what.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kari Gibbs

    Skeleton women is a Chinese phrase for femme fatales. In Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip, you are introduced to three of these such ladies. Your leading lady is Camilla, an orphan who was wired by a gangster to get in good with Shanghai’s most prominent gangster in the 1930s and kill him. She sings her way into his heart and after years of training to keep her emotions hidden, they make their way up to the surface and she finds herself in the middle of a love square, with a time running out to com Skeleton women is a Chinese phrase for femme fatales. In Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip, you are introduced to three of these such ladies. Your leading lady is Camilla, an orphan who was wired by a gangster to get in good with Shanghai’s most prominent gangster in the 1930s and kill him. She sings her way into his heart and after years of training to keep her emotions hidden, they make their way up to the surface and she finds herself in the middle of a love square, with a time running out to commit murder… before she finds herself the one six feet under. Camilla isn’t the only Skeleton Woman in our midst in this book. Rainbow Chang is a gossip columnist who has the power to make or break Camilla. Although Camilla knows her life is on the line, she knows that with one stroke of te pin, Camilla’s life could end. And don’t forget Miss Shadow, a magician who is shocking people left and right with her tricks. Camilla knows she is a threat and will try to get in with Master Lung, so Camilla makes a plan to get rid of her, which may end up backfiring. Skeleton Women takes you back in time, but is a very modern tale of manipulative women. It took me a while to get through this book, but I can’t explain why. I think it’s just because I’ve had a hundred other things going on, it definitely wasn’t because I couldn’t get into the book. Sometimes when I read books set in different eras, I have a hard time relating to the characters and actually seeing myself in their shoes. With this book, although I didn’t have much in common with Camilla, I didn’t feel like our lives were so different. I mean, I’m not a femme fatale, not an orphan and don’t have plans to kill a gangster, but at points I felt like I was reading a modern day story and not traveling back in time. I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Camilla’s character. You have to feel for her because she was an orphan and got out of it, but only to be trained to kill a very powerful man. She was doomed from the start. I can’t relate to her on this, but hated that she was bullied around by Master Lung and couldn’t follow her heart when, for the first time in her life, it spoke to her. Camilla goes through a lot, a lot more than I have ever been through and emerges as a strong woman who can take care of herself. I loved her for that…. and because she has awesome knife throwing skills. There were a few things that slowed me down in this book, the main one being a few translation issues. Since I read this on my Nook, I was able to make notes on which pages there were issues, like using the wrong tense of words. I know I could have easily looked these over, but I feel like it’s my job as a reviewer to bring up these issues when I catch them.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Ardoin

    Camilla was plucked from an orphanage at 14 years old and trained to become a skeleton woman--a dangerous double agent who's working for one mob boss to destroy his rival. As Camilla becomes deeper ingrained into the gang, she not only has to be the mistress for its' leader, Master Lung, but she must attempt to steal his financial information and assassinate him as well. As if this weren't enough, Camilla's life becomes more complicated when an enigmatic female magician named Shadow comes to Shan Camilla was plucked from an orphanage at 14 years old and trained to become a skeleton woman--a dangerous double agent who's working for one mob boss to destroy his rival. As Camilla becomes deeper ingrained into the gang, she not only has to be the mistress for its' leader, Master Lung, but she must attempt to steal his financial information and assassinate him as well. As if this weren't enough, Camilla's life becomes more complicated when an enigmatic female magician named Shadow comes to Shanghai. The normally icy exterior Camilla puts on begins to crumble when she starts experiencing jealousy, friendship--and maybe even love. This book hooked me from the very beginning, but it did take a while to build anticipation. I quite liked Camilla, I just found myself confused at many of her choices. Camilla does what she needs to do to keep herself not only alive, but thriving. She is a master in flattering a man and getting what she wants. But while she has much luck in her relationships with men, she has no other successful bonds to speak of. As an orphan, she of course has no family. She also has no girlfriends, but I'm not sure if it's because she's so stand-offish or other women are simply jealous of her. I think the author has a gift for characterization and world building. The story takes place in Shanghai in the 1930's, and I could envision the opulence of the era quite vividly. Great care is taken to describe what characters are wearing and what places look like, but it never feels over-described. I got a good feel for each of the important characters in this story, which was nice because sometimes that doesn't happen in a book that is told in first person. As the book went on, I couldn't wrap my head around Camilla's reasoning for some of the things she chose to do. I can't really describe them without spoiling the story, but I'll just say some things felt pointless and I couldn't see how they added to the story. I'll also say this is a novel with a lot of loose ends. If you're a reader who needs all questions answered at the end of a story, you won't like the way this ends. I enjoyed the little stories-within-a-story that were added to the book. They all related to Camilla's journey in some way. The entire book was filled with symbolism. Though the book was set in China, there were not a lot of unrecognizable words and I really appreciated that. The book was a very easy read. I found the ending a bit sudden and as I said, there were too many unanswered questions for me to rate this book higher. Perhaps other readers who don't mind ambiguous endings would enjoy it more. I was, however, entertained by Camilla's journey and she's a character I won't forget soon.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Audra (Unabridged Chick)

    I'm of two minds about this book but I think in the end I can say I enjoyed it. Camilla, a 19 year old orphan, was raised by a Chinese gangster to be the mistress of his rival -- in hopes that Camilla can lead the man to ruin and death. Beautiful, a talented singer, ruthless, and emotionless, Camilla flourishes in Shanghai amid wealth, decadence, violence, and intrigue -- until she meets Shadow, a beautiful and talented magician and illusionist who vies for her seat in Shanghai royalty. The title I'm of two minds about this book but I think in the end I can say I enjoyed it. Camilla, a 19 year old orphan, was raised by a Chinese gangster to be the mistress of his rival -- in hopes that Camilla can lead the man to ruin and death. Beautiful, a talented singer, ruthless, and emotionless, Camilla flourishes in Shanghai amid wealth, decadence, violence, and intrigue -- until she meets Shadow, a beautiful and talented magician and illusionist who vies for her seat in Shanghai royalty. The title comes from a phrase tossed at women like Camilla, either a curse or a compliment: 'skeleton women' are women who drive men to death, bleed them dry, leave them empty like skeletons. Yip employs an artificial, coy writing style for Camilla that mimics the ornate, flattering way she flirts with her gangster lover. I mostly enjoyed it -- the narrative is peppered with the aphorisms and wise sayings she takes to heart, the stratagems of Sun Tzu (Sunzi in this book) she studies -- but now and then, it felt childish and awkward. I didn't feel much for Camilla, neither like nor dislike; as Camilla often tells us, she was trained not to have feelings but as a result, I didn't have any for her in return. I read along, interested enough, but not invested, even when I could tell Camilla was thawing, having feelings, making decisions from the heart -- but it was a little too late (for me at least). My jacket blurb doesn't mention the 1930s and had I not read it elsewhere, I don't think I could say this was a historical novel necessarily. Perhaps the lack of cell phones clued me in that it wasn't contemporary, but otherwise, I don't think there's a strong historical emphasis. Those wanting a very evocative sense-of-place might not find it here. Rereading what I've written makes it sound like I had many problems with this book, which I guess I did -- I've only noticed it now that I'm having to respond. While reading, I raced through it, entertained, and I'm curious about Yip's other novels.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Collins

    On the whole, this book was just disappointing. The writing and characters both left much to be desired, and some of the plot points verged on the ridiculous. One cringe-worthy moment I won't forget is when a character photographs some few pages from a diary that just happen to tell her all of the old history of a character, perfectly answering her questions. Especially in the beginning of the book, when the author attempts to convince her audience that Camilla is a strong female character and a On the whole, this book was just disappointing. The writing and characters both left much to be desired, and some of the plot points verged on the ridiculous. One cringe-worthy moment I won't forget is when a character photographs some few pages from a diary that just happen to tell her all of the old history of a character, perfectly answering her questions. Especially in the beginning of the book, when the author attempts to convince her audience that Camilla is a strong female character and a notable spy, the writing and style of the work is fairly...well, horrendous. Later in the book, there are many unbelievable moments, and many more awkward ones, but the writing itself is less hampered by overwriting and out-of-place explanation and exposition. Yip's other works may or may not be so drenched in melodrama, sentimentality, overwriting, and flat unbelievable characterizations...but I doubt I'll take the time to find out. Not recommended, to anyone.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scarlet Risque

    This book leaves an impact on you. Oriental women look and behave like submissive little toys but they are not. They can whip your ass and surprise you. This book of fiction confirms what Chinese women are thinking behind closed doors and behind stage. It is accurate, and no nonsense. It's full of twists turns and seductive spells. I love it. I dream of the oriental fantasy magic scenes. It's pure fantasy like watching a Zhang Yimou movie. Highly recommended read into seduction, chinese style. This book leaves an impact on you. Oriental women look and behave like submissive little toys but they are not. They can whip your ass and surprise you. This book of fiction confirms what Chinese women are thinking behind closed doors and behind stage. It is accurate, and no nonsense. It's full of twists turns and seductive spells. I love it. I dream of the oriental fantasy magic scenes. It's pure fantasy like watching a Zhang Yimou movie. Highly recommended read into seduction, chinese style.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Angel Wu

    One word: terrible. But it's not like Halo-terrible (remember that terrible fiction that Christian 16 year old wrote about a girl falling in love with an angel), it's more like, okay-you-tried-but-it's-terrible. One word: terrible. But it's not like Halo-terrible (remember that terrible fiction that Christian 16 year old wrote about a girl falling in love with an angel), it's more like, okay-you-tried-but-it's-terrible.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    The story was interessting. It is about a young woman who was an orphan turned into a spy. She was under one of the gangster leaders to spy on the enemy. She was trained to find information and do what it takes. She had talents that people enjoyed. As a spy, she learned to be detatched from people. Until she met someone. Everything turned upside down. Eventually she learned to love but knew she could not be with her love. I was hoping that the end of the story was different. I didnt anticipate it The story was interessting. It is about a young woman who was an orphan turned into a spy. She was under one of the gangster leaders to spy on the enemy. She was trained to find information and do what it takes. She had talents that people enjoyed. As a spy, she learned to be detatched from people. Until she met someone. Everything turned upside down. Eventually she learned to love but knew she could not be with her love. I was hoping that the end of the story was different. I didnt anticipate it the story to end the way it did.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    The premise of the book sounded so good, but I feel like the story either lost something in translation, or Chinese writing style is much different than American storytelling. The author kept rehashing the same inner conversation, over and over again. The characters were rather bland, and the main character, while supposedly trained as a spy, didn't try too hard to accomplish her goals. I just wasn't impressed. The premise of the book sounded so good, but I feel like the story either lost something in translation, or Chinese writing style is much different than American storytelling. The author kept rehashing the same inner conversation, over and over again. The characters were rather bland, and the main character, while supposedly trained as a spy, didn't try too hard to accomplish her goals. I just wasn't impressed.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    I really enjoyed this book and found I had troubles putting it down. I enjoyed the storyline and sympathized with Camilla for having no control of her own life. I liked how they included Chinese sayings and ways of thinking throughout the book as well to give you a glimpse of some of the thoughts and different ways of thinking in another culture. Although this one was mostly about gangsters ways of life and thinking I found it an enjoyable read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen

    I was originally unsure about the plural in the title, but once you meet the other women in question it definitely works. Could have done without the prologue, though the girls and the premise were fascinating. The dreams and summantive ending were overkill; the end doesn't stand alone without a sequel for closure. I was originally unsure about the plural in the title, but once you meet the other women in question it definitely works. Could have done without the prologue, though the girls and the premise were fascinating. The dreams and summantive ending were overkill; the end doesn't stand alone without a sequel for closure.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Belva Shelor

    This was an entertaining read. It was about a girl who was a spy within a Chinese gang. She had to walk a narrow line between being the concubine the gang lord, and the love interest for the son and number one body guard. She was also an entertainer so their were aspects of that 8n the story line.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth deAcosta

    Mesmerizing....... Wonderful read!!!!!! It kept me turning page after page with such intrigue and endless fantasy!!!!! Wi!I recommend for everyones literary pleasure!!!!!

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