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
*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
*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
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!