Private vs. Public and our Euro friends

Murder by Death


So far, the limited conversations about this site that have centered around privacy and visibility is that everybody is for making the site private.  Since this current test site is my personal domain, I’ve already taken all steps to make it as inaccessible to the public as possible and I’m comfortable with its current status.

But once our Euro friends who fall under the GDPR laws join us, it’s a different ball game, as, if I understand this correctly, the law states that all users must list their real names/addresses, unless the site is private.  My current settings would count as private, in my opinion.

Currently, it’s possible to make posts and pages private using the Visibility function, but the glitch with that is setting that to Private makes the post or page visible only to administrators (handy on the future perm. site for administrators to basically PM each other).  The other option is Password Protected and that just seems a bit too much, asking everybody to enter a password to read the posts.

The only way to make the entire site private is through a plug-in, which is free.  It will enable whole site privacy, and as they say on the site: “Now, whenever anyone who isn’t registered and logged into your site comes to see it, this is all they’ll get: the login screen.”  (source:

Do we want to do this?  We can still ask new members to join us, but they won’t be able to approach us blindly; they’ll have to come to us through another member.

Thoughts?  Personally I want our Euro members, TA, Lillelara et. al to be able to join us without stressing about GDPR.  If that means I publish my personal details along with everybody else’s on my privacy page, or make the entire site visible to members only, so be it.  But this is definitely a discussion for the committee.


My fourth week of Halloween Bingo felt very relaxed. I finished three books and enjoyed all of them.

.’World Of Trouble’ was the last book in a trilogy about the end of the world that I’ve been putting off reading, partly because I thought it might be too sad. It was sad but not in a maudlin way. The ending was beautiful and perfect. I’m very glad I finally read this one.

‘Burn Bright’ was my fifth visit with Anna and Charles and was the best book in the series so far. I picked it for my Raven square partly because it gave me a potential bingo and partly because I was in the mood for more Patricia Briggs.

I enjoyed learning about the Wildings, werewolves too broken to live with the pack and too dangerous to live with humans. The central mystery was good and the action was compelling. As usual though, what I enjoyed most was getting to know the characters better. 

‘Shadowlands’ was a last minute decision. I wanted something light and quick to fill my Sunday and the Trick Or Treat square offered me another potential bingo.

I’d never read Meg Cabot before. She delivered a light, entertaining Young Adult tale about a teenager who can talk to the dead. Most of the mileage came from our heroine’s move to Carmel from NYC but there was also a baddy worthy of a Buffy Season 1 episode. It was a pleasant way to spend five hours.

So this is my current Halloween Bingo Library:

The game is 44% through at this point and I’ve read half of my books. I’m hoping to get a bingo this week. So far I have:

  • eight squares read and called
  • three squares called but not read
  • six squares read but not called.

New Plug-in: Default categories

Murder by Death


When Christine set up the details of the site layout, she created a category for everybody who is here (so far).  Once that user creates a post and assigns it to their category, it automatically creates a link in the left menu that will show all that users’ posts aggregated onto one page.

The hitch(es) are that Administrators have to remember to create the category when the user is created (at the moment it’s just me, but eventually will be Christine and whomever she assigns an Admin role), AND the user has to remember to assign their category to their posts.

I found a plug-in that eliminates half that need to remember.  It’s called Restricted Author, and it allows you to set a default category on a per user basis.  (You can also restrict authors to certain categories, hence the name, but I’m not using that feature.)

Admins still have to create the category when they create the user and make sure it’s assigned to them as the default, but now whenever any of us create a post, it will automatically assign that post to our category.

NOTE:  The category is only set upon saving the post (either Publish or Draft), so when you first open “new post” the category won’t be checked.

Book Plug-ins we’d have to purchase: Ultimate Book Blogger vs. Book Library

by Murder by Death


One of the best features of BookLikes, and one of the reasons we ended up at GoodReads, is the book database.  Being able to post book reviews with book covers and book information that other readers could access, as well as being able to track the books on our shelves.

When I had to create my own book blog,, I was unwilling to compromise on the book database and started doing some hard-core searching for something I could easily use in my posts.  I found Ashley @ Nose Graze.  She writes two seperate plug-ins: Ultimate Book Blogger and Book Database.

Both plugins allow for the writing of reviews embedded with book information.  Both create searchable archives of reviews.  Both get the basic job done in slightly different ways, offering slightly different perks.

The biggest difference between the two on a nuts and bolts level is that:

book database allows the users to manually build a book database that allows for custom taxonomies, different editions tied to the same record (not different covers though), re-read tracking, and reading stats.

Ultimate Book Blogger allows you to pull data from Google Books or Goodreads using an API, which means you can search by title, author, or ISBN for the book(s) you want to embed in your review, allows you to choose what book info to display, but doesn’t keep the book information anywhere but in your post.

UBB also offers spoiler tags, a wrap-up function that seems to be about what you’ve read this month or year and a currently reading widget I use on my regular blog.  Book Database offers a block, for those that like the block editor (or have made your peace with it) that allows you to place a book info box in your posts that might not be reviews.

The features we probably don’t care a whit about are also small and easy to ignore: Book Library allows purchase tracking and tracking of signed editions.  Not sure how useable that is for a group like us.  UBB has giveaways, blog tour and author bio stuff I don’t think this group has any interest in.

As I said, I have both and I use both and unofficially, I’ve discovered that UBB’s currently reading widget works just fine with Book Database’s books.  I don’t know how, but it does.  I think a few more of the widgets do too; I have a recent reviews widget on my site too and it pulls from book database.  What I don’t know is if the crossover would work with multiple users.  Both plug-ins support multiple uses though.

Both cost $35/annually, OR $35 one time.  The one time only gets you one year of updates and support, and then you’re on your own with compatibility issues, etc. When mine came up for renewal this year, I got a 30% discount on each for renewing early.  UBB has a few add-on features that cost a bit more.  The only one that’s ever caught my eye is one for tracking reading challenges, though I haven’t bought it yet.

For those that want more in-depth information, with screenshots, I recommend checking out Ashley’s pages here:

Book Database:

She also created a feature comparison chart, which I’ve appended here for anyone wanting a side-by-side comparison.

From her site:

How is this different from Ultimate Book Blogger? Which one should I choose?

There is admittedly a lot of crossover between Ultimate Book Blogger and Book Database. Some of the differences are more subtle.

In short, Ultimate Book Blogger is geared towards book bloggers and all the features a book blogger might have on their site. It has a lot more settings and more niche options like support for book giveaways and blog tours. It’s also a very public plugin—geared towards people who want to publicly publish reviews and associated content.

Book Database has a larger focus on maintaining a personal library of books and keeping track of your reading statistics. Its calendar view also provides a great way to keep up with upcoming releases. Book Database can be beneficial to people who have no interest in publishing public content; you can simply use it to track your reading progress and books you own and/or are generally interested in.

Feature Book Database Ultimate Book Blogger
Book storage Books are stored in their own database in a dedicated admin menu. Books are stored directly with posts.
Log owned editions Supported Not supported
Log books read Supported Not supported
Reading & reviewing analytics Supported Not supported
Embed book information in posts Supported Supported
Public review archives Supported — one archive with filtering options Supported — multiple different archive types available
Fetch information from Goodreads Not supported Supported
Blog tour support Not supported Supported
Giveaway support Not supported Supported
Related content feature Not supported Supported
Book author bios Not supported Supported
Public Widgets Not supported Supported

Some Random Mutterings from Blue

So it’s been a long two years. Or has it been centuries? Time has no meaning anymore. I have been reading more and more books though because it has been nice to have something that can take my mind off of so many things that seem to be happening right now in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Some of my favorite things to do is to read books. And the below are some of my favorite comfort reads.

  1. What can I say. I love this story about four sisters totally different from each other and struggling to make it through the American Civil War. And though it feels wrong to admit this, Amy is my favorite.


Alphabetical List of Squares

Setting the formatting aside for the moment, I’ve taken the descriptions of the squares on GR and placed them in alphabetical order for our future reference.

I’ve split the alphabet into four groups but kept everything on the one page.

I’ve set up HTML Anchors so that clicking on one of the four headings below will take you to the right place on the page.

Please check that this works.

Alphabetical List Of Squares



A Grimm Tale: any fairy tale or retelling of fairy tales, folklore, legends, etc.

Amateur Sleuth: this mystery will have a main character who is not a member of law enforcement. This can include retired police officers and private detectives.

American Horror Story: horror set in the United States.

Black Cat: This square is being combined with 13, so it includes any book that has a black cat in the title, on the cover, or in the story; or any book that relates to bad luck, superstition, either in the title/book/series/page count. 

Classic Horror: horror fiction that was published prior to 1980;

Country House Mystery: a closed circle murder set during a gathering like a house party.

Cozy Mystery: a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.

Creepy Carnivals: horror/mystery/supernatural set in or concerning a carnival, amusement park, or other party/festival – think Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Joyland by Stephen King or Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie;

Creepy Crawlies: this is a throw back from 2016! Books with bugs, snakes, spiders, worms and other things that slither, scuttle or crawl, includes viruses and other parasites.

Cryptozoologist: any supernatural creature, from Ammit to Ziz.

Dark Academia: Any mystery, suspense, supernatural or horror that takes place at a school – high school, college, boarding school, etc.

Darkest London: mystery, horror, supernatural, or suspense set in London.

Deadlands: elements of the undead – zombies, wights, vampires and other revenants;

Dem Bones: Dem Bones covers any (mystery/suspense/horror/supernatural) book that involves skeletons, bones (human or otherwise) skeletal remains, anthropologists, archaeologists, natural history museums or expeditions or archaeological digs.

Diverse voices: written by an author of color.

Doomsday: anything related to the end of the world, doomsday cults, or a post-apocalypse world.

Dystopian Hellscape: This is a multi-genre square! Any book that relates to the fictional depiction of a dystopian society, such as The Handmaid’s Tale or The Hunger Games!


Fear the Drowning Deep: books with sea-related elements: sea creatures, ships, and sharks. Book list linked here.

Film at 11: The idea for this new space comes courtesy of Linda Hilton! Generally, in order to qualify for Halloween bingo, all books must fit into one of the general genres of horror, mystery, suspense or supernatural. This space is filled by any Halloween bingo book that has been adapted to film or television. For extra fun, you can watch the adaptation – although this is an optional add on.

Gallows Humor: another new square – any mystery/horror/supernatural/suspense book that is also intended to be humorous or funny.

Genre: Horror: Anything that qualifies as horror.

Genre: Mystery: anything that fits into the mystery genre.

Genre: Suspense: anything that fits into the suspense genre.

Ghost Stories: any story involving ghosts or hauntings – includes haunted houses.

Gothic: any book with significant: a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance. Book list linked here.

Grave or Graveyard: Books that have a grave or graveyard on their covers, in their titles, or any book at least partially set in a graveyard.

Halloween: This is a combination of the “pumpkin” and the “halloween” squares from 2016. so, any book set on halloween or has halloween in the title or that has a pumpkin on the cover, or in the title, etc.. will work for this square. This square is also being amended to add the “fancy dress” or costuming element that was previously part of trick-or-treat.

Hellhounds and Feline Familiars: This is a brand new square – any mystery/suspense/horror/supernatural book that involves a dog or a cat. Other domestic animals subject to approval…

Highway to Hell: Any book involving demons, demonic possession or other such elements, as well as hell or the devil, or, alternatively, travel gone very, very bad.

In The Dark, Dark Woods: a mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book in which the forest/woods plays a significant role, or which has a forest/woods on the cover.

King of Fear: You can read anything written by Stephen King or Joe Hill, or recommended by Stephen King (as long as the recommendation is otherwise eligible for Halloween Bingo); EDIT: You can also read any mystery/supernatural/suspense or horror book that involves actual royalty (i.e., kings, queens, princesses, etc).

L- P

Lethal Games: Any mystery involving sports, sporting events, athletic contests, games mistresses or PE teachers, as well as card games and other games of chance. This is going to substitute for International Woman of Mystery!

Locked Room Mystery: a subgenre of detective fiction in which a crime (almost always murder) is committed in circumstances under which it was seemingly impossible for the perpetrator to commit the crime or evade detection in the course of getting in and out of the crime scene.

Lost in Space: Lost In Space replaces the Aliens square. It covers aliens and any other “space” being, but also covers mystery/horror/suspense/supernatural stories that occur in space – either “real” or digital (i.e., Ready Player One).

Mad Scientists and Evil Geniuses: Mad Scientists and Evil Geniuses: any horror/mystery/suspense/supernatural book that contains either mad scientists or evil geniuses, secret lairs, secret labs, genetically altered creatures or anything similar!

Magical Realism: a style of fiction that paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements.

Modern Masters of Horror: horror published in or after 2000.

Monsters: This square covers any crytpozoological or mythological creature that isn’t a vampire, werewolf, or demon. Or zombie.

Murder Most Foul: any murder mystery.

Noir: This updated square combines Classic & Modern Noir into a single category: mystery with noir elements, including authors like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James Ellroy, Ian Rankin, anything that falls generally under the category of Nordic Noir, Tartan Noir, Granite Noir, etc;

Paint It Black: Any book with a cover that is primarily black or has the word black in the title, was written by a black author, or relates to rock and roll music.

Plague and Disease: This one should be self-explanatory, but it’s any mystery/horror/ supernatural/ suspense book that involves plague, disease, viruses, parasites, etc. I’m moving viruses & parasites and similar elements out of Creepy Crawlies and into this category. It’s like that zombies would fit here as well, depending upon the means of creation.

Psych: Psychological thrillers, plot twists and suspense, unreliable narrators and other mind-fuckery. And, as an aside, any Halloween Bingo book that takes place within or related to an insane asylum, haunted or otherwise, would qualify!


Read by Flashlight or Candlelight: Back by popular request! Any mystery, suspense, supernatural or horror book – the trick here is to spend an hour or so reading by flashlight or candlelight. Take a picture and share it with us, if you want to!

Relics and Curiosities: concerning magical, supernatural or haunted objects, such as spell-books, talismans or swords;

Romantic Suspense: any romance which has a significant sub-plot that involves mystery, thriller or suspense; also gothic romance.

Shifters: werewolves, skin-walkers and all other therianthropes.

Sleepy Hollow: this is the new version of set in New England, with a shout-out to that most New England of all stories, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; in addition, since “Full Moon” has been retired, this category now includes any book with a full moon on the cover, or that prominently appears within the text.

Spellbound: books containing witches, warlocks, sorcerors and witchcraft;

Splatter: This is a mystery/horror square – combining Serial/Spree Killer with Slasher Stories and covers any book that involves the detection of serial or spree killers, or that shares the tropes of classic slasher movies: teen characters; indestructible killers and/or multiple victims.

Stone Cold Horror: a book that takes place primarily in a winter/cold/snow type setting

Stranger Things: this is a twist on the past 80’s Horror square with elements of the television show – any horror that has supernatural elements, portal/parallel universes, government plots gone awry or is set or was written in the 1980’s.

Supernatural: Books which include elements that defy current understanding of the natural world, including magic, witchcraft and/or crypto-zoological aspects.

Terror in a Small Town: any book where the action primarily occurs in a small town or village. Examples would include: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, It by Stephen King.

Trick or Treat: This is a new square that combines all of the YA/MG mystery/horror under one roof, incorporating both Baker Street Irregulars and Fear Street into one master category.

Tropical Terror: This square is the reverse of Stone Cold Horror – books set in tropical locations, or other places where there is extreme heat.

Truly Terrifying: Non-fiction that has elements of suspense, horror or mystery, including true crime, both contemporary and historical. Examples would be The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, or The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson.


 Vampires: vampires, preferably non-sparkly, in all of their glorious fictional permutations.

Vintage Mysteries: This is a newish square, or maybe really more of a “repurposing” square. Classic noir was the least popular of all of thsquare, and we had a suggestion from Themis for a Golden Age Mystery square, or a Queens of Crime square, to focus on Agatha Christie & a few of her contemporaries. Vintage mysteries is a journey(wo)man square that can take on all of the roles above, and it replaces Classic Noir. In order to qualify, the mystery must have been published prior to 1975.

When Mother Nature Strikes: Any book that takes place on “a dark and stormy night,” or that involves a storm or natural disaster, including non-fiction.

Meandering thoughts

Christine; 09.29.2021

I’ve added a few thoughts to some of the comments, and I have a question for MBD.

First, I really like Mike’s table set up for the space images & text descriptions. I’m wondering (if we go this direction) if it would be possible to add a link to the text that would take readers to a separate booklist page, where we could embed a table, sorted by author last name, with the booklists that we have compiled on BL/GR. I don’t think that they need to be linkable because that would take a tremendous amount of work.

Second, we’ve been discussing the book database versus the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin. I am only familiar with the UBB plug-in – I used it on an old blog that was hosted by Ashley, who developed the plug in. It basically provides a format for posting book reviews – you enter the information about the book, including cover image, link to GR page, plot summary from GR, publication date, etc. It creates a very attractive post, and includes a star rating function. It’s nice.

I know nothing at all about the book database, though. Maybe MBD could provide us with a sort of a compare and contrast of the features of both. She uses the book database for her site. I find the idea of building our own book database intriguing, especially if we end up sort of wholesale moving the group over here for all purposes, including but not limited to Halloween Bingo.

Finally, I think that I like my byline better without the block quote – this on is just a thumbnail of my avatar (which I cropped into a round shape on picmonkey) and the name/date italicized and bolded.

This has been great fun so far.