the Little Red Reviewer

A bucket of mini-reviews

Posted on: December 7, 2019

Woah! How did it become December, like, when did that happen?

I could put myself under a ton of pressure to write thousand word reviews that won’t get read . . . or I could write some low-pressure mini-reviews.

Mini reviews it is. (I mourn my loss of review-writing motivation. I really do)

Here are some mini-reviews of books I read this year and enjoyed. If you read them, I’d love to know your thoughts! If you aren’t familiar with them, do they look interesting?

The Quantum Garden by Derek Kunsken – the direct sequel to Kunsken’s break out novel The Quantum Magician. I am a sucker for heist stories, and I am a sucker for when the con artist gets conned. This second novel in the series is quieter than the first, less action, less gigantic set pieces. And in the quiet spaces, we really get to know Bel and Cassie, and the family they came from. I’m not going to give away any plot points, because if you haven’t read the first book they won’t make any sense. If you like smart science fiction, if you like physics that is on the edge, if you like stories about science meets capitalism and human greed, and oh, if you’re looking to scratch your Locke Lamora itch, this is the series for you.  Seriously excellent in every possible way. Def gonna want to reread this and tease out all the cool dimension hopping physics and cultural and family obligation stuff, and just totally cool shit on every page.

And Shall Machines Surrender by Benjanun Sriduangkaew – I loved this book. It was fun, it was super sexy, the characters were great, I enjoyed the story, I loved the idea of a sanctuary community that is run and governed by AI’s who rebelled against their human owners. But this isn’t a story about AI’s, it is a romance. Orfea and Krissana have history, oh do they have history. And the only thing they have more of than history is chemistry. If you don’t like romance and sexytimes getting all squished up in your scifi, this isn’t the book for you. Enjoy ultra smart scifi characters who also get to have romantic relationships and sexytimes? This novella is the gift you give yourself. Even better news? Sriduangkaew recently published Then Will the Sun Rise Alabaster, which is same world, different characters. This is a huge sprawling space opera world that Sriduangkaew has created, there are endless stories she could tell.

Indelible Ink by Matt Betts – Ok, so I read this one a few months ago, and don’t remember a ton of the details. I remember that it had a rough start, but found its bearing pretty quickly, and that I enjoyed it enough that I’d read it again. Deena has some hella cool superpowers that she can sort of control, her story line felt X-Men and edgy, as if she was some mutant kid who got recruited into Magneto’s crew and didn’t really know what was going on. I remember really liking her as a character and rooting for her. And there was this crazy twist at the end that came out of left field, but at the same time made a ton of sense because there had been some clues all long. Yep, just gonna have to read this one again. If you can find a copy of this book, I recommend it.

Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963) edited by Gideon Marcus – I talk more about this book here. I’ve only read about 1/3 of the stories in this anthology, which is a shame, because the table of contents tells me that the vast majority of the stories are nice and short, easy to finish before I get to the bottom of a cup of coffee. Some great writers in the table of contents too! Kit Reed, Rosel George Brown, Judith Merill, Katherine MacLean! Each story has an indepth introduction written by a contemporary writer or author, only a few of which I was familiar with. And here was my problem, and why I kept putting this book down: I found the introductions to be needlessly long and at times pretentious. Yes, please do tell me about the author and where their work was published, and anything else we might know about them, but the intros got too long and drawn out, and eventually off-putting for me. Once I started skipping the intros, I enjoyed myself more. Maybe you will really like the intros? Maybe they would have worked better if they were all at the end of the book in an “about the authors” section? I dunno. Vintage month is around the corner, so I’ll sample more stories in this antho, and just skip the intros.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – I desperately wanted to love this book. Gladstone and El-Mohtar are just the coolest people around. I tried so hard to like this book. At the halfway point, when I was ready to DNF, I figured I only had another 90 pages to go, might as well finish it. And yes fine, I admit, I am pretty sure I cried at the end. But at the start, after about page 20, after the shiny wore off, I just found the whole thing completely pretentious. I bet this book was a ton of fun to write. I bet it will win a ton of awards. I read this shortly after reading Valente’s Space Opera, and they were both just so over-ornamented, and so over done, that I couldn’t help but think to myself “is everything that feels shiny, just pretentiousness slathered with lip gloss?”. I so much enjoyed Valente’s early novels, that it killed me inside to not be in love with her new stuff. Call me Debbie Downer!


Gulp by Mary Roach – if I’m going to read non-fiction, it’s going to be Mary Roach. I’ve been on a biology kick lately, just some deep-seated interest in understanding how my insides work, because your insides are super cool and super gross! Gulp is basically what happens after you put delicious food in your mouth? First your saliva starts doing it’s thing, and then your esophagus and your stomach and your intestines do their thing. Because this is a Roach book, it is filled with facts and humor and funny gross stuff. No joke, the last few chapters are all about poop and pooping. This book combined with my binge-listening of “This podcast will kill you” has given me just enough bio-knowledge to be interesting at parties.

And now I don’t feel all that pressure to write formal book reviews! Apologies to the publicists who sent me books and were hoping for one of my patented 1200 some word reviews.

And now I can start writing up my “best of” lists, and posting about Vintage Science Fiction Month, and other random stuff guilt free!

Blogging without the guilt of “I’ve not created enough content!!”, what is this sorcery?

14 Responses to "A bucket of mini-reviews"

That Quantum Evolution series sounds pretty good. Who doesn’t like a good con job?


this series is fantastic! Con artists, physics, politics, genetic engineering, it’s got everything!


I intended to read The Quantum Magician last month, but have managed to descend into a full-on reading funk instead (thank goodness for pre-prepared posts). I mean, I totally want to read it … I just … can’t …
But hurrah for guilt-free blogging!! I’m gonna read whatever you write, however long or short, but I’d always rather read something you enjoyed writing! 🙂


been there, done that, on the reading funk. I watched a lot of historical fiction tv shows, costume dramas, silly brother’s Grimm movies, and somehow that helped? Yeah, was a surprise to me too!

get a copy of Quantum Magician, and it will be on your bookshelf, ready whenever you are.

I can’t believe how low stress this blog post was! I was done in less than an hour, and the post is getting some good attention on the twitters and in the comments. This style post might be my new thing, as i’m really digging the zero stress.

Liked by 1 person

Ha! 😀 I am currently working my way through a stack of movies I’ve been meaning to watch for ages … so maybe that will help me too.
And I have a copy of QM ready and waiting (which I bought for my birthday after reading your review).

As for this possibly being your new post style – zero stress is always the way to go, no? 😉


“zero stress is always the way to go, no? ”


Liked by 1 person

Let’s hear it for the Reading Funk.

Liked by 1 person

you got one happening too?


Definitely need to read Quantum Evolution now. I feel basically the exact same about Time War. It wasn’t what I’d hoped.


I liked the end of Time War, but man, the pages I had to slog through to get to it! It’s like, I can tell the authors had a ton of fun writing it, it reads like it is their private symphony. it just wasn’t a ton of fun for me to read. I was so excited to read it, it got a ton of positive hype, so many my expectations were too high.


Hip hip HOORAY for mini reviews – also my plan for catching up on my much-lamented unreviewed reads this year.

And you have totally convinced me I need to pick up my copy of The Quantum Magician and actually read it, so see? Mini-reviews work!


I 100% approve of doing mini-reviews. in less than an hour, I was able to collect some thoughts on books I read. Doing a handful of sentences for each book was so satisfying! and easy! and didn’t take much time!

also, Quantum Magician was SO GOOD!!!!!!

Liked by 1 person

Read Mary Roach. Give her books to people you like and care about, who will be around at times to laugh with you because they’ve read
Mary Roach and dig popular science and humor.
* Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003),
* Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005) (published in some markets as Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife),
* Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (2008),
* Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (2010),
* My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places,
* .Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (2013), and
*Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War (2016).

I don’t loan these books. I buy them and give them away because my, ahem, friends forget the books were “once” from my collection.


ooh, thank you for this list, there are a few titles on here I hadn’t heard about. My Planet sounds wonderfully funny!

what a great idea, to buy these books as gift for people! They are funny, and sometimes gross, and educational. laughs and knowledge? sign me up! and you’re sure to have some, um, interesting in-jokes after your friends have read these!


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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