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The Secrets of Jin-shei (Jin-Shei #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,467 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
The epic story of a sisterhood where blood relations are nothing compared to the unbreakable bond of the secret sisters -- the bond of Jin-Shei.
ebook, 512 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful novel about ten girls growing up in an alternate China. They are from different stations in life, from lowly orphan to Imperial heir, but each one is connected through the bond of Jin-Shei, an oath of sisterhood more binding than anything. Even an order from the emperor can be refused, but a request made in the name of Jin-Shei can not. Over the course of their lives, these ten girls and their Jin-Shei bonds will reshape the empire.

At its heart, The Secrets of Jin-Shei is abo
☼♄Jülie 
I remember I loved this book! Though it is some years since I read it, it has been passed around the family and recently returned to me.
AJ LeBlanc
Jan 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cbr-iii
I hated this book so much. I hated it with the power that only comes from being disappointed and wanting to not hate it. It had potential. It had moments where I thought “Yes! You can do it! You can do it! You… aww fuck.”

Basic story line:

Mythical Chinese kingdom.

Eight Chinese girls.

Once upon a time.

The girls enter the pact of Jin-Shei. This is a sisterhood oath. It is explained to be sacred and binding, but also supporting because it’s done in love, trust and respect. At least that’s how the fir
Elyzabeth Gorman
Love, love, loved this book. I think the publisher is doing it a disservice, though, by its presentation. I thought it was going to be an East Asian domestic drama, about the hidden lives of imperial women. Instead, it turned out to be a sprawling epic that includes fighting and the supernatural. It's about women, yes, in a mythical East Asian country, but it's a fantastical adventure and should be enjoyed as such.
Lisabet Sarai
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book follows the intertwining lives of half a dozen women, bound together by the sacred bond of jinshei-bo, a relationship of kinship that goes far beyond blood ties. Tai, the prepubescent daughter of a Court seamstress, catches the eye of the young Empress in waiting, Antian, and despite the difference in their stations, they become close. Then Antian is killed in a catastrophic (and wonderfully described) earthquake. With her last breath, she urges Tai to "take care of her sisters". At fi ...more
Jenna Thomas-mckie
My only complaint - it ended too quickly!
Ian Wood
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove
laura adams
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Secrets of Jin-shei is like looking at a tapestry. Very vivid and intricate watching the friendships weave together. It is a very enjoyable and thought provoking read. I highly recommend this to who has a best friend you call sister, even if you don't it will inspire you.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It can be hard to keep an ensemble cast of characters distinct from one another, and yet Alma Alexander manages to do so in this book. The strength of this story is its characters moreso than the plot. I do wonder if perhaps the central conceit of jin-shei was occasionally overused as a McGuffin to drive the plot forward rather than have it unfold a bit more organically. In some places she could have showed more than told, but overall an engaging read.
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd give this novel a 4.5.

It challenged me in a different sense than any other ‘difficult read’ has – the task of differentiating ten protagonists really tested my short and long term memory banks. This initial need to absorb would likely explain why the first volume was so comparatively inert to the rest of the novel. The atmosphere had been built to be peaceful, curious and idealistic – it was set in the Summer Palace – so even the first disruption proved to be a big shock. The drama had sign
I liked this book, but also didn’t. There were A LOT of characters…something like 10 main characters is a wee bit too many. Certainly a few could be cut. The remaining 7 or so characters were great and I enjoyed their growth and relationships between each other. What I didn’t like was the hocus-pocus ghost crap. It wasn’t necessary! It was a great story of friendship and being bound to tradition and a culture. I could have also done without the last chapter. I read the book, I don’t need a refre ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marie by: Kat Hamill
"Jin-shei means 'sister of the heart.' It means that two women who are not bound by ties of blood choose to help and protect one another out in the world." This book is about deeply loyal friendships in medieval China that transcend social class, occupation and age. It's a girl power kind of cast ranging from an Empress to a healer to a seamstress/poet, a guardswoman, and a scholar/alchemist. There are also elements of sorcery and immortality, and the book turns kind of dark towards the end. The ...more
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
Shelves: absolutefavs
Blood has nothing to do with family as this story of "secret sisters" is unveiled.

The writing of this book is magical and it does take you back in time to China. This story is of non-blood sisters who will protect and follow each other to the ends of the earth.

Its amazing as you read this story, of how you can relate different "sisters" to your own group of friends. Reading this book, I was attaching the characters with friends in my own circle I draw streagth from.

You will not be disappointed w
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I absolutely loved this! I loved how it was all about women and a secret language of friendship and sisterhood. I loved how each person had their own set of strengths and weaknesses and how each sister kind of filled in the blanks. The only thing I didn't really like was how little plot there actually was, as the whole "immortality" thing was over too quickly. I also wasn't fond of how most of the sisters died, and horribly. But otherwise, it was a really wonderful story about love,
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The lives of sisters

This story takes many surprising turns, and through them, the reader becomes acquainted with a culture, a city, a dynasty. The writer takes you on the journey through the memory of one of a group of women. A group by virtue of their choice to honor a chosen bond of "Jin-shei" —a sisterhood with its own written language, passed down through ages. The characters are diverse, and yet each honors the bond, the promise. A worthy read by a knowledgeable author.
Lora Dudding
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved all the strong women characters in this book. Although there were 10 main characters, they were all so different that they were easy to keep apart. I was not expecting the storyline to detour into sorcery and ghost roads, but it was very entertaining. My few complaints are that the stories of Khailin ,Tammary, and Luidan were not really wrapped up except to say they were dead. But then again, that could have added another 100 pages to already long novel.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I didn't have any expectations when I started it, so I was pleasantly surprised by the intricate weaving of all the storylines. I found myself captivated to find out what would happen next with each of the characters. My only recommendation is to read the pronunciation key at the end of the book first- I was way off on some of the names!
The story of a group of Chinese girls who come together through their pledge of jin-shei, a sisterhood that binds them for life. They range from an Imperial heir to an orphan who joins the guard, a healer to a sage, a poet to a wanderer. I enjoyed the first part of the story much better than the second as it got long winded and slow in parts.
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I love the strong female characters in this novel about pledged sisterhood. From various walks of life, they become sisters of the heart, pledging fealty to one another. Through good and bad, they struggle for self-realization and end up saving an Empire.
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing story on true friendship and where it can take you.
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of my absolute all time favorites!
Lucy Gray
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for this one. Read a review which was critical due to the 10 main characters - but I did not have a problem with the names and enjoyed reading this book.
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, gripping.
Paulina Rūgytė
Mane nuoširdžiai pakerėjo visa istorija.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the book and the different stories that it follows.
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
So amazingly good.
This is incredible storytelling that weaves and winds and creates an atmosphere that sucks you in. The level of detail was amazing, very intricate, yet still easy to follow.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant story of sisterhood in an alternate china world.
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book about sisters who adopt one another in the name of friendship
Shannon Mcgarrity
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read, it keeps you interested. I like the storylines and the settings.
Sep 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, chick-lit
The story of The Secrets of Jin-shei revolves around eight women: a sage, a poet, an alchemist, a soldier, a healer, a rebel leader, a gypsy, and an empress. We first meet a very young Tai, the poet woman the story revolves around, then we proceed to meet the other seven, little by little. We're there as they make their first jin-shei friendships as girls, then follow them for another twenty years as they enter adulthood and each find their own purpose in life.

A jin-shei is a friendship girls ma
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ALMA ALEXANDER is a novelist who writes for both adults ("The Secrets of Jin Shei", "Embers of Heaven", "Midnight at Spanish Gardens", "The Hidden Queen", "Changer of Days") and YA audiences (the Worldweavers trilogy, "Gift of the Unmage", "Spellspam", "Cybermage","Dawn of Magic" - as well as the new series, The Were Chronicles, "Random", "Wolf" and "Shifter")

Her work has been translated into 14
More about Alma Alexander...

Other Books in the Series

Jin-Shei (2 books)
  • The Embers of Heaven (Jin-Shei, #2)

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“There are moths outside, ready to die for a light they crave but which is denied to them, shielded from them [...] Sometimes, in the midst of all I have been given, I watch the moths in us all. Everybody has a light which they think they cannot live without.” 1 likes
“But still they turn from it, all of them, and bat their wings against their own impossible dreams.” 0 likes
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