The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson. Fantasy. I know this got a lot of positive press when it first came out, but I know certain things about how this story plays out that make me leery to engage with it. But I’m willing to give it a shot for free.
Acquired from Subterranean Press as a freebie:
Kingdom of Needle and Bone, by Mira Grant. A Grant novella, dealing with a pandemic scenario. I hadn’t read this one before and you could make a good argument that maybe this isn’t the thing I want to read right this instant. But I’m also a fan of confronting personal fears through fiction! Plus, see commentary elsewhere on this list re: reading All the Grant/McGuire, and this is one of hers I haven’t read yet.
Acquired from Kobo:
Feedback, All the Pretty Little Horses, and Coming to You Live, all by Mira Grant. I’d read Feedback before from the library, and I’d read the other two as part of a library read of the Rise release that had all of the Grant novellas to date. But this is me finally acquiring ebook copies of all three of these, in the midst of a major Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire readathon.
The City of Brass, by S.A. Chakraborty. Fantasy. Grabbed this one when it was available at a discount.
Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier. Fantasy. I had this on my list to read as a library book, but it went on sale for $1.99, so I went ahead and nabbed it.
Cold Fire and Cold Steel, by Kate Elliott. Fantasy, books 2 and 3 of her Spiritwalker Trilogy. I haven’t read book 1 yet, but these went on sale for a low price, so time to nab ’em!
Pre-ordered from Kobo:
The A.I. Who Loved Me, by Alyssa Cole. Sci-fi romance. I’ve already listened to this in audiobook form, but now it’s coming out in ebook, so I thought I’d nab an ebook copy too.
Apparently, when I social distance during a quarantine, I go TIME TO BUY ALL THE BOOKS.
Acquired in print from Third Place Books:
The Return of the Shadow, by J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien. This is one of the extended History of Middle-Earth series that Christopher Tolkien put together out of his father’s papers, which I got interested in after seeing the excellent character study series of posts Tor.com put up citing these books as sources. Also bought to have an excuse to order something from Third Place during the covid-19 crisis.
Acquired from Subterranean Press:
The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard. Got this one because they were briefly offering it for free. SF/Space Opera, novella. I believe it’s also a Holmes pastiche?
Pre-ordered from Kobo:
The Immortal City, by May Peterson. Book 2 of her Sacred Dark series, Book 1 of which I’ve already bought but haven’t read yet. Buying Book 2 sight unseen just because fantasy romance!
Network Effect, by Martha Wells. The forthcoming Murderbot novel which is due out in another few weeks. I gotta get caught up on some Murderbot, clearly!
And outright bought from Kobo:
Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix. Horror, but funny horror. Noted this when it came out some time ago, though the concept sounded cute. I.e., an IKEA-like store is totally haunted. Finally nabbed it at a sale price.
Storm of Locusts, by Rebecca Roanhorse. Urban fantasy. Book 2 of her Sixth World series. Book 1 was excellent, so I’m looking forward to reading this one!
The Blacksmith Queen, by G.A. Aiken. Fantasy. This one’s been talked up a lot on Smart Bitches as a fantasy with great female character interaction, and I’m for that!
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland. YA horror, with zombies. Grabbed this one since it’s a post-Civil-War zombie story and I am quite interested to see how it plays out.
Thornfruit, by Felicia Davin. Book 1 of a fantasy romance series. Grabbed it because it was free at the time.
Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy, by Martha Wells. Books 3 and 4 of the Murderbot Diaries. Grabbed because I (heart) Murderbot!
In an Absent Dream and Come Tumbling Down, by Seanan McGuire. Books 4 and 5 of the Wayward Children series. Looking forward in particular to Come Tumbling Down.
Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers. SF, book 3 of her Wayfarers series.
“A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, by P. Djèlí Clark. This is the short story that sets up the universe for The Haunting of Tram Car 015.
Also acquired from Kobo, but these ones in particular are all because they’re Hugo nominees, either for Best Novel or Best Novella:
To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers. Same author who wrote The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which I liked, and I have been meaning to catch up on her work. Contender for Best Novella.
This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Been hearing a lot of good things about this one. Contender for Best Novella.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow. Contender for Best Novel.
The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark. Contender for Best Novella.
Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire. Because boy howdy have I heard a lot of good things about this one. Contender for Best Novel.
A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine. SF. Contender for Best Novel.
And lastly, acquired from Amazon:
Problem Child, by Victoria Helen Stone. Book 2 of her Jane Doe thriller series. I quite liked book 1 and will be interested to see how this one goes.
Noting out of the gate: the entire Murkworks household is well. Dara, Paul, and I, along with George, are staying at home as much as we possibly can. We were doing so even before Governor Inslee issued the stay-at-home order for Washington state–and really, at least for Dara and Paul, being at home all day isn’t much different from pre-COVID-19 days. Dara’s “day job” is to be the landlady for our rental house, and Paul’s been working from home for months now, ever since his employer shut down their Seattle office.
Like I daresay everybody else who reads my posts, I’m spending a lot of time compulsively refreshing news feeds and watching the case counts for COVID-19 go up all over the world. In Washington state, we’ve got the second highest case count in the U.S. after New York. In King County, the county I live it, we’ve got over 560 cases alone.
My household’s all okay at the moment. My day job has us all working from home. And since I am extremely grateful that I have a day job that allows me to do that, I’ve been trying to contribute what I can to fellow authors and some musicians as well. I’ll be looking at possibly signing up for some Patreons.
And for now, here’s a list of the books I just picked up. Acquired from Kobo:
Paper and Fire, Ash and Quill, Smoke and Iron, and Sword and Pen, Books 2-5 of Rachel Caine’s Great Library series. YA, SF dystopia. Nabbing these because not only do I have a long history of loving Caine’s books, but also because she’s undergoing a second round of cancer treatment right now and whoo boy howdy is this not a good time to have to be undergoing cancer treatment. Not like there’s ever a good time, but hey.
A Death of No Importance, by Mariah Fredericks. Mystery, book 1 of her Jane Prescott series. Got this one because it’s a period mystery, set in New York in 1910, and because it was on sale at the time for $2.99.
The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. The third Night Vale novel. This is a pre-order because the book isn’t out yet, but it’ll be out very soon and I wanted to make sure to support the book right now. Because Night Vale has been a joy to me for years, and because the coronavirus has scuttled their ability to do their current round of touring, too.
Lady Helena Investigates, by Jane Steen. Mystery, book 1 of her Scott-DeQuincy series. Also a period mystery, which I went ahead and grabbed because it was on sale for 99 cents.
Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir. SF/space opera. Nabbed this one because a bunch of folks have been raving about it, and because the words “lesbian space necromancers” certainly caught my attention.
The Sun Down Motel, by Simone St. James. Mystery. Nabbed this one thanks to a splendid review of it on Smart Bitches, and because I’d recognized the author’s name as somebody who had previous books I wanted to read. I have already now read this as I write this post, and I can say I loved it. I’ll definitely be grabbing more of this author’s work now that I know I like it.
Turning Darkness into Light, by Marie Brennan. Fantasy. Sequel to her splendid Lady Trent series, which I adored, so naturally I needed to get my mitts on this title.
Acquired from Amazon:
Raven Heart, by Murphy Lawless. A.k.a. C.E. Murphy, who, as y’all know, is another longstanding favorite of mine. This is paranormal romance and I am certainly down for that from known good authors. <3 (Didn’t suck that she was handing it out for free at the time, either!)
The Night Girl, by James Bow. Standalone urban fantasy, set in Toronto. Picked this up on the strength of this review by James Nicoll.
The Richmond Thief, by Lisa Boero. Another period mystery, which I grabbed because it was on sale for 99 cents. (And fair play to Smart Bitches for their regular alerts regarding ebooks on sale!)
Acquired for free because a lot of authors are starting to offer titles for free to help tide people over during quarantine:
High Lonesome Sound, by Jaye Wells. Southern Gothic/horror. The author is handing out this book for free until the end of April. More details are in this tweet.
The Unleashing, by Shelly Laurenston. Urban fantasy/paranormal romance. Book 1 of her Call of Crows series. Nabbed this because of it going on sale, and because I keep hearing this series get gushed about on Smart Bitches as an example of a series with excellent camaraderie between female characters. (I really wish the cover wasn’t a shirtless dude in a hoodie, if there’s that much emphasis on female relationships, but hey, romance marketers don’t listen to me!) Also a heaping helping of Norse-based worldbuilding going on in this series, and I’m here for that.
An Illusion of Thieves, by Cate Glass. Fantasy. Book 1 of her Chimera series. This has gotten a lot of buzz about being essentially a heist story, but in a fantasy setting. It sounds fun, so when it went on sale I snapped it up.
Untamed Shore, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This is Moreno-Garcia’s first thriller, and I thought the plot sounded intriguing. Plus, I’ve read a little bit by this author before and I want to read more of her.
The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco. Nabbed this by spending some Super Points on my Kobo account, and because we’re reading this in book club.
Stormsong, by C.L. Polk. Book 2 of her Kingston Cycle series. Nabbed this because I really enjoyed Witchmark, and I’m looking forward to this second book in the series, starring the sister of the hero from the first one. And an F/F romance too!
The Unspoken Name, by A.K. Larkwood. Fantasy, book 1 of The Serpent Gate. Grabbed this one on the strength of this review at Tor.com, and because LESBIAN. ORC. ASSASSIN. Yes please I’ll have some!
The Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower, by Tad Williams. Books 1-3 of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy. Fantasy, a series I’ve read before and which I own in print. Nabbing these in ebook because my print copies of these are gigantic hardbacks and I’d rather like to read these again.
Picked up from Comixology:
Harleen, by Stjepan Šejić. Graphic novel. This is a retelling of Harley Quinn’s origin story, which I nabbed in digital form after seeing it mentioned in the comments on the Tor.com review of Birds of Prey. Since I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, I was very much in the mood to check out this graphic novel. And I burned through it as soon as I bought it, because the art is gorgeous and the story is thoroughly engrossing.
And, pre-ordered from Kobo:
The Shadow of Kyoshi, by F.C. Yee. Book 2 of the Kyoshi duology from the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Book 1 rocked and I am VERY on board for book 2. :D
Mexican Gothic, also by Silvia Morena-Garcia. Saw this mentioned when I went looking for the author’s Twitter account and went ZOMG at the description of it as a re-invention of the Gothic horror/suspense novel. This one’s set in 1950’s Mexico, and the author’s page for it includes an endorsement that compares it to Mary Stewart . I need it in my brain RIGHT NOW.
I’d posted last month on my angelahighland.info site about how our webserver, the very server where annathepiper.org is hosted, kept crashing.
Good news! I’m pleased to report that for the time being, anyway, we’ve found a solution. I also put that post on angelahighland.info instead of here, just because that’s where the first post was. But if you’re interested, you can find the details right over here.
Testing, testing, testing. I upgraded the hard drive in my computer yesterday, putting in a brand new SSD, and wow booting this thing up is smokin’ fast now.
The overall process I followed was:
Take the computer apart so I could take out the old drive
Put new drive in and put computer back together
Install Catalina as a brand new install
Use Migration Assistant to pull my data off my last Time Machine backup
The first big hiccup I ran into with this were that it took me three tries to get a viable USB installer for Catalina. Fortunately we have other Macs in the house, so all props to Paul for letting me use his downstairs system to generate the third USB installer, which was successful.
The second big hiccup was getting the new install of Catalina to actually see my Time Machine backup. Normally I run Time Machine over our house LAN, and the older laptop that acts as our Time Machine server saves my backups out to a USB drive attached to that. I attached that USB drive directly to my laptop. But Migration Assistant didn’t realize what backup I wanted to use until I specifically went into Finder and mounted the sparsebundle. Once I did that, Migration Assistant went “oh you mean THIS backup” and proceeded to let me actually pull data out of it.
That migration process went smoothly, though the wild vacillation of time estimates was kinda hysterical. It dropped from about “7 hours 57 minutes” (and Dara and I expecting this would have to run overnight) down to about “2 hours 20 minutes”, and then plummeted from there to somewhere around 20 minutes. For way longer than 20 minutes, at which point it also vacillated wildly between 20, 38, 17, 11, 18, and other numbers in the range. The speed at which the drive was operating kept fluctuating too, and we didn’t know why. Dara’s theory was that maybe Migration Assistant had to go up and down through various levels of Time Machine backup to get a good read on all the things it had to pull out. But we don’t know this for sure.
Third big hiccup so far was that the system was confused as to letting my Apple ID log in. I boot the thing up and it goes “hey your Apple ID needs to log in to allow various things to work”. I’m all “cool” and I try to log in with it… only to get an error message that said, and I quote, “An unknown error has occurred.”
This was, shall we say, less than helpful.
So I had to go googling as to what the hell to do to fix that. Tried several unsuccessful things until I landed on this article on AppleToolBox, which provided some terminal-level commands that ultimately did the trick.
Fourth hiccup: Mail initially refused to let me import messages, swearing up and down that I didn’t have enough space in my home directory. It lied. It was also confused as to WTF the actual problem was: i.e., a permissions issue, given that I had created a brand new user on the system when I pulled in my Time Machine data, and it didn’t think the Mail directory was properly owned by that user. So I had to fix that. What ultimately worked for me were steps provided in this Apple forums thread.
Mail also had issues letting me back into some of my accounts, but I think this may have been part and parcel of the Apple ID problem? Once I fixed that and reinstated my various mail accounts, Mail seemed happy accessing them.
Fifth hiccup: the program I use to manage my reminders and tasks, Things, also had a permissions issue. I wound up locating where it stores its database with the help of this article, and fixed the permissions on that, similar to what I did for Mail. (In this case, that meant getting into the terminal, finding the thing, and throwing chown at it.)
As of this writing, these are the things so far that have made the process bumpier than I would have liked. But major functionality on the system now seems to be in place. I am really pleased with how fast the thing boots up now. And hopefully once Catalina finishes going “OH HEY NEW DRIVE LET ME INDEX ALL THE THINGS”, I should see an overall general performance boost. Which should extend the life of this machine a little while longer, until it finally stops getting security updates and I have to upgrade to a new system.
Confirmed working so far:
Apple ID login
Syncing to my phone and iPad
Logging into various things I usually log into in my browser (social media, mostly, but other frequently visited sites as well)
RSS readers (I have two)
Still to check:
Making sure all my documents and photos and other files came over safely off the Time Machine backup (means checking the Desktop, Documents, Music, and Downloads directories just to make sure everything looks in order)
LINE (which I use to talk to my guildmates in Dungeon Boss)
Once all the major things have been checked, I’ll feel comfortable with reinstating Time Machine backups. But I wanted to get all this documented while it was fresh in my brain!
(And oh yeah, I can also report that doing a fresh install of Catalina does not appear to have fixed the weirdness in my playlists on my phone and iPad. Boooooooo. Apparently I’ll have to wait for Apple to fix that properly. Oh well!)
I’ve been very slowly going through an assortment of random old things from one of the upstairs bookshelves, trying to decide what I wanted to keep and what I didn’t. One of the things in this assortment was a “sketch diary” type notebook, dating from the era of the original Murkworks, during that short span of time when I was playing around with colored pencils and trying to figure out how to draw.
I only had sketches on the first three pages of the notebook, which just goes to show you how far I got with that attempt at drawing. Since I haven’t touched the thing since–and we’re talking well over 15, maybe over 20 years here–I decided to recycle the sketchbook.
But not before scanning in the sketches. I wanted to keep them for posterity, particularly since they’re mostly attempts at drawing Two Moons characters. And I wanted to share them here!
(Editing to add: Dreamwidth readers, you’ll want to click over to annathepiper.org to actually see the pictures. The plugin I’m using for rendering galleries doesn’t play well with being crossposted to Dreamwidth, sorry about that!)
I’ve been doing website juggling what with having to transfer my main author site operations from angelahighland.com to angelahighland.info. Which means my more non-writing related posts are going up on annathepiper.org instead!
Like my book purchase roundups. Here’s the first for 2020.
Acquired from Kobo:
Destiny’s Embrace, Destiny’s Surrender, and Destiny’s Captive, all by Beverly Jenkins. These are all historical romances, and specifically featuring protagonists of color in Civil-War-era (and I think post-Civil-War?) America. Jenkins has been on the Smart Bitches podcast a couple of times, and she seems delightful, so I finally bought a few of her books when I saw them on sale for $1.99 each.
Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard. YA fantasy. Grabbed this because I had liked the cover when I first saw this one come out a couple of years ago, and because it went on sale for $2.99. (And I was slightly chagrined to see that shortly after that, Tor.com offered this as their free book for the month for January.)
Lord of the Last Heartbeat, by May Peterson. Fantasy romance. Grabbed this because a) hey, it’s another Carina author writing fantasy romance, and b) one of the protagonists is non-binary. Awesome. \0/
Acquired from Amazon:
Grabbed all three of these because they’re titles that were pulled out of the RITAs due to the big scandal with RWA over the tail end of December and the beginning of this month. There was a nice roundup page on Amazon with links off to the titles to buy and support the authors, and these were all ones that looked interesting.
The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan, by Sherry Thomas. I’ve read some Thomas (her Lady Sherlock series), and I’d like to see her take on Mulan.
The Orchid Throne, by Jeffe Kennedy. Fantasy romance. I know of Kennedy via Carina as well! And I’ve been meaning to read her work for a while now.
Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mihalik. SF romance. Grabbed this one, I’ll say straight out, because of the similarity of title to Jupiter Ascending. If this book hits the same sort of “big silly fun” sweet spot that movie did for me, I’ll enjoy it immensely.
Acquired from Gutenberg.org:
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman / With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects, by Mary Wollstonecraft. Pulled this down from Gutenberg because we’re going to read this for book club.
In the ongoing process of doing my code work on my Github, I came across an idea that I’d actually encountered before. But it was one for which I’d never previously had an identifying term, and I was excited to learn about this.
Namely, Page Object Model testing. (Not to be confused with Project Object Model, which is what the POM in a pom.xml file stands for when you’re working with Maven.)
What this is: a way of writing a test framework that separates “code that represents the thing you’re testing” from “code that actually does the testing”. Turns out I’d learned about how to do this at Big Fish, when I picked up the idea and how to implement in Python.
Back in those days, it helped to do this because it let me have test cases that basically said “okay go get me the page I need to test, and stick all the data representing it into this object, which I will then do tests against”. It meant that in setup for tests, all I had to do was go grab an instance of the object that represented the page to be tested. And that meant in turn that the tests themselves were more tightly focused.
I found that it required a bit more organizational work to set up, but that once I had the idea in place, it meant writing future tests became easier. For example, if I had test script A that tested the homepage of the site, and then later needed to write test script B against the same page, I wouldn’t have to rewrite the code that loaded the homepage for testing. Likewise, if something about the structure of the homepage changed, I would only have to change the class that dictated that structure, with possibly only minor changes to any test scripts that needed to deal with it.
I liked this way of organizing code well enough that I have been implementing it on my Github repos. In the Python Selenium demo, specifically.
But, now that I’m done with the initial wave of Selenium tests and am looking at ways to expand the suite in both Java and Python, I started thinking of how to rearrange the organizational structure of both suites and seeing whether I could do a similar structure in Java. That led me to discovering that this whole concept had a name.
And it also led me to being able to implement Page Object Model testing in the Java Selenium repo, too.
What this means in practical terms is that I can think of pages on my test WordPress site in terms of “here is an object that represents an entire page, including child objects”. These child objects would be things that are shared across all pages, like a sidebar, or a footer, or a menu. Their various objects are things I have to implement only once in a Page Object Model system, and then use as necessary in tests that actually look at them on different pages.
So all in all this has been a satisfying area of research.