Mini Reviews: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy – Spinning Silk, Twice Bitten, Undeath & Taxes


In Spinning Silk, a Japanese silk weaver tells her life story. In Twice Bitten, a man and his vampire ex get hunted down by an anti-vampire group while rekindling their relationship. In Undeath & Taxes, vampire account Fred and his friends have more paranormal misadventures. Enjoy my mini reviews for these three paranormal/urban fantasy books!

Spinning Silk by T. Cook

Mini Review: Spinning Silk by T. Cook | reading, books, fantasy
Title: Spinning Silk
Author: T. Cook
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 253
Rating: 2.5 stars
Tags: Yokai, POC, Asian, Japanese

*I received an ecopy of this book from the author. This has not influenced my review.*

What I liked: The writing was simple but elegant and very readable. The story had an ethereal, mysterious quality. The Japanese setting and culture was interesting. The supernatural would've been cool, had we gotten more of it.

What I disliked: I got tired of all the foreshadowing sentences. (E.g. "In time, I would understand why he would not let me bid him a tearful goodbye.") This story spanned a long period of time, so the plot felt a little aimless and there was a lot of telling and time jumps; rather than sinking into a character's mind, it felt like someone telling me the story of their life (which is what it was). Last but not least, although the supernatural element did play a role in the story, it was only present very minimally. Unfortunately, my main interest was in the tsuchigumo and jorogumo demons mentioned in the blurb, so that disappointed me. (I've been told the second book, which is like a companion novel, does have more of that element though.)

Overall this book wasn't right for me, but I think it will be easily enjoyed by some readers.


Twice Bitten by Rayna Vause

Mini Review: Twice Bitten by Rayna Vause | reading, books, urban fantasy, lgbt
Title: Twice Bitten
Author: Rayna Vause
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 194
Rating: 2 stars

*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

This book had a solid idea for a premise and plot filled with things I generally love, but it was full of cliches and failed to meet its potential for me. The characters and their dialogue and interactions didn't feel natural. They lacked development and some came across as stereotypes, like the cartoon villains. There were things in the plot that didn't seem believable or were too coincidentally convenient. The "exes with feelings" aspect fell flat and I didn't feel the longing between them because it was all about sex and each others' bodies instead of the actual relationship/friendship/closeness they'd had; there were just lots of mentions of swaying hips and bulges in pants and pooling heat. I liked the general idea for the plot---vampires, a special group claiming they're protecting humans but doing shady stuff, a guy and his vampire ex getting mixed up with them, a man who works for the company realizing he can't look past their wrongdoings anymore. But, like I said, I didn't get the emotion and complexity I wanted from it. Maybe other readers will enjoy it more though. Also, just a note, this book wrapped almost everything up but left one thing open that makes me think it could turn into a series, albeit maybe with different main characters in the next book.


Undeath & Taxes by Drew Hayes

Mini Review: Undeath & Taxes (Fred, The Vampire Accountant Book 2) by Drew Hayes | reading, books, urban fantasy
Title: Undeath & Taxes
Author: Drew Hayes
Book Number: Book 2
Pages: 328
Rating: 4 stars

This was another sweet, light, funny, enjoyable audiobook in the series. Fred is a great, easily likeable character---I especially love how honest he is; no subterfuge, no manipulation, no hiding anything. He's just honest and trustworthy, and I love him for it. And he's so oblivious to how brave and caring he is and how everyone else sees him. I also like how sweet his relationship with Crystal is. They're so different, but they balance each other, and they respect and love each others' differences. The whole series has a really sweet friendship/found family aspect too that I like. Fred's social circle is a motley crew of characters, and it's really sweet how Fred spent his whole life being kind of alone but now has these people he cares about and who care about him. But, at the same time, I also liked how this book had more scenarios when Fred was without his friends and/or took more initiative, even being the one to save the day in one case. Last but not least, I highly recommend the audio for this series. I make no secret that I'm not a fan of audiobooks, but it works so well for this series since the story is told as a series of memoirs, and the narrator really brings the characters to life. Overall, this was another set of stories I enjoyed listening to!


Talk to me!

Have you read any of these paranormal/urban fantasy books?
Have you read any books set in or inspired by Japan?
Do you like reading about exes with feelings?
My fellow audiobook dislikers, have you found any you did like?


Your Thoughts


34 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy – Spinning Silk, Twice Bitten, Undeath & Taxes

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  1. Crystal @ Lost in Storyland

    I haven’t read many books set in or inspired by Japan, but I love Asian settings. It’s too bad Spinning Silk wasn’t quite for you. Undeath & Taxes isn’t quite up my alley, but it sounds like a fun read!

  2. Bookworm Brandee

    I love the mini-reviews! 🙂 I”m sorry Spinning Silk didn’t work for you – it does sound kinda neat with the setting and culture. It’s too bad the supernatural element wasn’t explored more though because that interests me as well.
    Oof! Twice Bitten really didn’t work for you and that’s too bad since the premise shows a lot of promise.
    Death and Taxes though…that sounds like a hoot! I have the first one in the series which I picked up because it sounded great and the author is a graduate of my college…I need to pull it down off the shelf! 😉

  3. Sam@WLABB

    Thank good for Undeath & Taxes, because this was a rough list of books. I am always sad to see low star ratings. I want everyone to love the books they read, and my heart aches for the time you spent reading a book you did not enjoy. Yeah for finding a book that works on audio for you, and this one sounds really charming to me.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol Spinning Silk wasn’t so bad, just not what I was expecting. But yeah, Twice Bitten was a big disappointment for me since the premise sounded so good. The Fred series *is* a charming one!

  4. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    Too bad the first two fell short but at least the vampire series is a winner. It’s awesome to find a book/series that translates so perfectly to audio. I have a couple series that I only do on audio and it’s like they’re just meant to be experienced that way.

  5. Christy

    Eww the cover of Spinning Silk grosses me the hell out. It’s the overall look of the holes. It’s hard to explain. So I no issues skipping that book. lol. However, I do very much want to read Fred’s books. It seems like a series I’d totally enjoy.

    1. Kristen Burns

      No, I get it. There’s a word even for that feeling of disgust. But I’m ok with this cover even though I get that feeling for other things lol. The Fred series is great!

  6. Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra

    Sorry to hear the first two books weren’t good fits for you. I love the sound of the Fred, The Vampire Accountant series though. Maybe it’s because I work for an accounting firm and several of the people I work for remind me of the undead, lol.

  7. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I feel like I’ve seen someone else talk about Spinning Silk with a generally positive review but I can’t remember who reviewed it or what they said. It sounded like it has potential though and if the companion book explores more of the supernatural element even better! Glad to see you enjoyed the second audiobook in the Fred series of books. I know the first one sounded like a laugh so I’m glad the second one seems just as enjoyable.

    1. Kristen Burns

      You’re prob thinking of Evelina, I know she loved that one! I do think my issue with it was mostly a me thing. I’m really enjoying the Fred series!

  8. Olivia Roach

    Ah, I am sorry you didn’t like the first two books! I can see how the foreshadowing sentences constantly being used in Spinning Silk would get a bit frustrating. But it sounds like you had a lot of fun with Undeath & Taxes and that you enjoyed that addition in the series 😀 So hopefully it makes up for the other two ^.^

  9. Cee Arr

    ‘there were just lots of mentions of swaying hips and bulges in pants and pooling heat’ – every smutty fanfic ever. Lol! 😉

  10. Daniela Ark

    oh nooooo Spinning Silk is only 2.5 stars??? WHAT A WASTE OF SUCH GORGEOUS COVER!! but I understand lotsa of telling would do that to me as well. 🙂

  11. Dani

    Your. Quick reviews are great and to the point. ♥️ Love Asian settings but its their view of the supernatural I love to read. This and the aimless plot is disturbing. Maybe the second book will give us what we want.

  12. Lola

    Sorry to hear the first two didn’t quite work for you. I like foreshadowing, but that type of foreshadowing you mention in your first review can be a bit tedious indeed. The Japanese culture element does sound neat.

    Thjat’s too bad about the second book with how it was a bit cliché and had things that were too convenient. I also prefer when relationships are more about the closeness than just the sex. The plot does sound like like it had potential.

    Undeath and Taxes sounds fun and I like the sound of Fred’s character. And that’s nice that the audio works so well there as I remember your post about how you struggled to find audio books you enjoyed.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah the sentences just started to annoy me :-/ But the Japanese element was cool.

      Fred is such a great character! And I’m so happy to have a good audio series!