New Designs, New Server, New UBB, SO MUCH NEW!

I’m really excited to share all of this week’s happenings with you guys. First, let’s dig into one of the most exciting… NEW DESIGNS!

New Design Work

You might have a big question mark over your head and be wondering, “Didn’t she stop taking on new design work?” The answer is yes. But I’m still finishing up with a few clients that had been booked since before Christmas. But I’m down to the last few!

Spines & Covers

Blog design for Spines & Covers

It was a HUGE pleasure to work with Samantha from Spines & Covers on this design. For starters, I LOVED her vision. It was exactly the kind of design I had been itching to make. But also, she was such an easy client! I feel like Samantha and I just clicked. She knew exactly what she wanted, I knew exactly what she wanted, and we hit it out of the park on the first try.

Take me there!

Literally Jen

Literally Jen website design

Jen was another fantastic client. This project spanned several months so we actually spent a fair amount of time talking about our lives. Jen was there during the horrible ear infection of 2014!

Jen is a blogger and an editor. This meant I got to do some fun coding work for the website, including a custom post type for testimonials, and a ton of user-friendly boxes in the admin area so she can easily update everything herself.

Take me there!

I has a new server, I has a new seeerver!

After a few bumps and bruises, I finally have my new server all set up! So far I’ve only migrated over Nose Graze (as kind of a test drive) but it’s been going super well! What’s the difference between my new server and my old one? Well, here’s some info about the new one:

  • Better CPU
  • 64G of RAM, instead of 16G
  • SSDs in RAID-10 instead of normal hard drives
  • Using a different Nginx configuration with Varnish (old server wasn’t using Varnish)
  • Using HHVM

And while we’re here, let’s check out how awesomely fast Nose Graze now is:

Pingdom report showing having a load time of 547ms

Om nom nom.

To be fair, I didn’t do a test before the move, but whatever. It’s still fast and I loooves it.

Eventually I will be moving all my Book Host clients over to the new server as well. But since we’re using new-to-us technologies (and HHVM itself is very new) I need to be the guinea pig before I move everyone else over. 😉


In case you haven’t been around the Twitterverse lately, I’ve been working on version 3 of the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin.

Version 3 is a COMPLETE re-coding and re-structuring of UBB. But while I’m at it, I’m working on incorporating features that people have been asking for for AGES. My new system makes it slightly easier for me to add those in. Plus, starting from scratch always seems to make things easier, haha.

Some new features will include:

  • An updated settings panel. The old one is soooo outdated. I’m thinking of going with a super minimalistic approach that blends right in with WordPress. (I actually took a totally different approach at first, but I’m thinking of scrapping that and starting over with the minimalistic one.)
  • The ability to add multiple books per post. This is THE BIGGEST update. You know you love it. 😉
  • Each user can have their own social media widget. This is now possible because I’m rewriting the way it works. Instead of adding your social media usernames on the settings page, you’ll now enter them on the widget itself. This makes it possible to have multiple widgets, all with different usernames (and icons).
  • And more?!? What do you want to see? Let me know!

I’m back on the C25K wagon!

You may remember that I started Couch to 5K in June. I got to week six or seven, but never finished the program. I’ve decided to jump back into it! I started over and I’m currently in week four. So far it’s been going really well but OMG the transition between weeks three and four has been brutal. It feels like such a big step up…


Tell me what’s been going on in your week!

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. Congrats on the new server! And I love those designs. They’re so clean and elegant.

    As for UBB stuff, there’s two things I can think of: a “currently listening” widget (which we talked about), and a way to choose which side the book cover displays in an individual post. I don’t know enough about coding to know if that’s possible, but it would be pretty freaking cool 😉

    1. Thank you Reanna! 😀 I did add in that update for audiobooks. It’s just a new setting in the “Currently Reading” widget. If you don’t have version 2.5.9 for some reason (latest version) fill out a support ticket and send me login details. 🙂

      And thanks for the idea on book covers! That’s definitely possible. It is already possible if you use the shortcode [book-info] I just don’t have it in the boxes on the edit post screen. I can certainly add it in there. 🙂

    1. Ohh I actually do already have an add-on for “flame ratings”. I just haven’t released it yet. Maybe I will release it alongside v3. 🙂 It’s basically a second rating system. You select 1-5 just like with normal ratings, and you can upload your own rating images (flames or hearts, etc.).

  2. You rock, Ashley! I swear I can’t imagine UBB getting better… It’s already the greatest plugin of all time! 😀

    1. Thanks Renata! 😀 I’m so glad you think so!! I’m always eager to keep making it better.

    1. Wow fantastic job, Jessica! Is week 6 the one with the crazy 20 minute run on day 3? That’s where I got up to the first time I did C25K and that was BRUTAL! (but I did it!!)

      Best of luck to you. 🙂

      1. Haha, thanks for the kind words! Week 5 is the one with the crazy 20 minutes run. I find that running is a lot about mental endurance. So having a TV in front of me really helps. (I run on the treadmill, btw)

        1. Oh no!! That means I’m up to that point this week. I’M NOT READY FOR THIS AGAIN!! Haha.

          I run on a treadmill too. 🙂 I usually just listen to music though. That definitely help me!

          1. I was supposed to do week 6 day 3 and it’s 22 mins of non-stop running 🙁 I just couldn’t do it and got off the treadmill. I just felt so lethargic and dreaded that 22 mins of running 🙁 I hope your running was better than me 🙂

            1. Aw, no. 🙁 I’m so sorry! You can get there though. Maybe you just need to do the previous week a few more times?

    1. Thanks Erin! 😀 I’m excited too! Still a lot of work to be done, but hopefully it won’t take too long.

    1. Yeah multiple books per post has been requested for a long time but it was always SO COMPLICATED to figure out. That’s sort of why I decided to overhaul the whole plugin. It was more doable to implement it if I started from scratch and just restructured it from the beginning.

      I still have to figure out how to get them to work with the review indexes though, but I have a theory in mind. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad that you love it Meredith! 🙂

      UBB won’t include email subscriptions because those are two separate features. But I am hoping to release my email plugin at some point. I am thinking of recoding that too though LOL.

      But the problem is that my email subscription plugin doesn’t have any options to import subscribers, and quite frankly, I don’t think I’ll add any in. 🙁 So that’ll probably make it a lot less desirable…

  3. I am amazed at your ability. After struggling with WordPress these last few days, I can’t believe how much you know and the ease with which you write about it. Thank god there are people like you!

    Bree recently posted: Blogging Scheduling
  4. OMFG°°° I’ve been missing of twitter, blog, facebook… but I loved read about your updates for UBB. You know I love that baby.

    Multiples books for post? Awesome. My Coffee Countdown feature need this.

    Something I’d love and maybe it’s silly is about Book Format Option, sometimes I read and listen a book, so it would be awesome if you turn that option into “check list” like source, genre, etc…

    Savannah @Coffee, Books & My Kindle recently posted: Review: Disconnected Audiobook by Jennifer Weiner
    1. I love your excitement, Savannah! 😀 I’ll look into switching that into a checkbox. 🙂 I’m not sure if I can do that though just because it might make it so old data doesn’t transfer over… We’ll see!

    1. Thanks Jessica! 😀 Samantha really wanted something where she could show off specific posts and I love what we decided on.

      Sadly UBBv3 isn’t available yet, and probably won’t be for a while. There’s still so much to do! I’ve only finished bits and pieces of it. It’s very exciting though! 🙂

    1. Thanks Jana! 😀 It’s very exciting! Redoing the settings panel is my next big project O_O

    1. Grabbing a sample probably can’t be done automatically, if that’s what you wanted? They’d have to have an API for that specifically, which I doubt. 🙁

    1. Haha, yes they have! 😀 People have wanted this for aaaages but it was always super complex to figure out. I figured starting from scratch was the best and easiest way to make it happen. That way I could redo all the code in a way that made more sense for adding this feature in.

  5. i’m delaying some reviews for the new UBB, because i read the 4 books, published in Portugal,by Mons Kallentoft, and they are all from the Malin Fors series and right now i’m going to read Julia Quinn Bridgerton’s series, wich is about 8 books (plus some additional stories) and they will look all great together in the same post :D. Right now i don’t have a co-user but if i ever have one, i think the separate media widget sounds really nice for those who have more than one user 😉

    I love both designs they look amazing, i think you have tallent for design but damn you are really AWESOME at creating plugins and if you can focus on that it will perfect because it is what you like and you are very talent 🙂 i’m loving your ideas so far and wish you a great release for the new UBB 😀

    Vera recently posted: 2015: Os meus desejos
    1. Well I don’t have any kind of estimated release date for the new UBB. It will definitely be a few months though. 🙁

      1. XD ok…i’ll write the reviews (altough i was using UBB release to justify my laziness XD) and put after the release they all together 😉
        And i’ll send you some suggestions if it occurs me for the new UBB 😉 😀

  6. I can’t wait to be able to add multiple books to a post! It will be SO useful for mini reviews. I have times (ok a lot of times) when I don’t really want to do a long review for some books but yet I’d like to chat about them a bit. 😉 And it was a huge pleasure working with you as well! You are so good at what you do, and I love the design! <3

  7. Love the two new designs up there. So elegant and pleasing to the eye. They’re beautiful.
    I’m very excited to be checking out the new UBB.

  8. I keep switching back and forth between ‘I’m moving to WordPress!’ and ‘I’m staying right here on Blogspot.’ But when I see you talk about new updates on easy plug-ins, you make it veeeeeeery tempting. I love the new Spines & Cover design 🙂

    1. WordPress, WordPress, WordPress!! 😀

      I do understand your hesitation though. I totally get it when you’re comfortable on a platform, happy with how it works, and don’t find yourself needing more (other than UBB obviously 😉 ).

    1. Thanks Liza! 😀 UBBv3 should be pretty amazing! It’ll be a while yet before it’s ready, but it’s exciting!!

  9. I love the color scheme of Spines & Covers .
    And somehow I didn’t know about UBBv3 LOL. I’m so excited now, especially for multiple books per post feature.

  10. Awesome week. You have been busy. I really like the design of Spines and Covers. You got a lot on your plate. Also, the UBB V 3.0 plug-in sounds amazing.

    Grace @ Books of Love

    1. Yeah I definitely do have a lot on my plate. It’s really hard to know how I should prioritize everything, you know? I just wish I could do everything at once!

  11. You know I’m excited about everything – even UBB, even though I don’t use it haha BUT I wanted to jump in here and throw my hands up in support of C25k – I just started at the beginning of last week (along with going to the gym more frequently) and so I wanted to say YOU CAN DO IT 😀 If you need a push you know where I am haha

  12. Exciting!!
    My one suggestion would be for an archive widget. It wouldn’t even have to be with the new UBB, it could just be a separate plugin, whichever. But I’ve been having trouble getting the few collapsing archive plugins there are out there to work on my blog and I love the smooth, clean look of yours. So if we could have a similar one on our blogs, that would be great!

    1. I think that would be more like theme territory.

      I’ve been meaning to add one to Tweak Me v2 for a while now, I just haven’t had time with everything that’s on my plate. 🙁

  13. Crikey, Ashley! Your week puts me to shame! *BOWS* I looooooove the new designs you’ve done, they’re so freaking pretty!!!

    UBB v3 sounds awesome. How about a way to add more than one author? Sometimes a book has two authors, or a pen name where you can add the author’s pen name and real name, etc? If that would be possible?

    The new server sounds amazing, I can’t wait til we’re moved over! It was SUCH a good decision to move over to Book Host!

    1. Thanks Leah! 😀

      You can add more than one author already. You can add as many as you want in the “Author” box. Just keep adding names. It works the same way as the “Tag” box. 🙂 Each entry is seen as an individual author though, there’s no way to designate a new entry as a pen name or real name. Maybe I can look at adding that in somehow!

      1. Duh I’m so stupid *FACEPALM* I do know you can add more than one author, silly me! I meant more than one title (for books with different US titles or different paperback titles etc, like an AKA sort of thing?)! It was only when I read your comment that I remembered what I actually meant to say haha!

  14. I am really excited about the server upgrades but I cannot wait for the UBB update. Multiple books on one post will be awesome!

  15. A new, updated UBB3? With multiple-book-review capability? Wheeeeee! I’m in. That is stupendous news! Also, I love the new designs, especially Spines & Covers. And congratulations on your progress in Couch to 5K!

  16. I’m through the roof about the new UBB plugin – multiple reviews in one post is awesome! I don’t review more than one st a time, but I do sometimes want to do book info for more than 1, so this is great! And congrats on the new server.

  17. EEEEP! That design for Spines & Covers is absolutely GORGEOUS. I love the fonts, the colors and the layout. <3

    Really excited for the new UBB plugin as well since we use that at The Social Potato–and there are three of us! Plus we're always doing multiple reviews in one post. ^_^ Thanks so much, Ashley!

  18. I am beyond ‘flailing Kermit arms’ over the multiple reviews update. It’s going to make reviewing graphic novels so much easier! 🙂

  19. Ahh I love your new designs! Someday I want to have a pretty blog like that 🙂 And eventually I want to be self hosted and get that UBB plugin, it looks like life would be so much easier with it!

  20. I have two questions for you, Ashley 🙂 One is about the server. I really want to change hosts, because the loading time on my blog is either quite fast, or extremely slow, and I can’t stand the fact that it’s never very fast… Can I still keep my own domain name if I move to your hosting service? And is it possible to do so without losing any of my posts and comments?
    The second is for the newest UBB – is this an upgrade that works without buying a new UBB? I know I’ll buy it if I have to, because being able to have several mini-reviews in a single post really appeals to me – novellas, short-stories and DNFs don’t always look great in a post of their own.
    As always, you’re very creative, and I love it!!

    1. Hey Lexxie! 🙂

      Yep you can still keep your domain name. When you sign up for my hosting, you have two options:

      1) Transfer your domain name to me. If you select this, you have to wait about a week for your domain to move from your current registrar to me. Then once the transfer is complete, your domain will be with Book Host and you’ll pay me to renew it each year.

      2) Keep your domain with your current registrar, but edit it to tell it to point somewhere else (to your new Book Host site). If you choose this option, your custom domain name will point at Book Host, but you’ll continue paying your current registrar to renew it each year.

      And yes, all your posts, comments, pages, and images will transfer over. 🙂 The only thing that doesn’t transfer over is author profiles with UBB. You’ll also have to redo any plugin settings.

      1. That’s awesome, Ashley! I will transfer my domain name to you as well, I think, might as well have everything in the same place 🙂

        If I do a full back-up of UBB and other plugins before the move, is it possible to re-upload everything so it looks the same then? Or do I still have to redo the plugin settings afterwards?

        1. My system uses a different set up so you can’t just import a back up quite like that. It has to be taken care of slightly differently. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out the hosting FAQ (at the bottom of the page). For instance, when you use my hosting you can’t install your own plugins/themes. There are a lot that are pre-installed (including UBB and Tweak Me v2, plus others). If you want a plugin/theme that’s not available, you have to ask for it to be added, then I add it for you (provided it’s compatible with the system).

          If you hire me to do the migration (it costs $30 coming from another self-hosted site) then I will redo many of your settings for you (including all the UBB settings). So by the time I’m done, it will look pretty much exactly the same, except for the UBB author bios.

  21. I love the new blog designs! Good luck with C25K!

    I also can’t wait for the new version of UBB. I can’t think of any suggestions because I love everything about it now! I have always loved how you have the authors biography on the top of your search results (for example for Jennifer Armentrout and Aimee Carter). I asked you about this before and you explained it couldn’t be a UBB plug-in (because it’s a theme feature). But this would be great for a Tweak Me v2 plug-in (I would buy it!!).

    1. Thanks Kathy! 🙂

      I’ll see about adding those profiles into Tweak Me v2! For some reason I thought I already had, but maybe I didn’t… oops!

  22. That first design up there is absolutely gorgeous, Ashley 🙂 You’re a bloody good designer, I’ll give you that. One of the best I’ve seen so far. And congratulations on re-joining the Couchto5K!!! Hope it yields some good results 🙂

  23. Hi Ashley,
    The new UBB looks awesome! Mine says V2.5.4 is this the new one? If no how do I go about updating?
    I can’t wait to try 2 reviews 1 post 🙂
    Thank you

  24. I’m excited about UBB3! I’ve added a lot of custom work to my download and the Review Request Add-on for some crazy stuff I have (and believe me, I’ve kept a list of every change made and wanted for the future in a Trello board so I can hire you for some custom work some day). From the screenshots, v3 looks like it’s going to be MUCH more user friendly in the settings.

  25. I am so excited for the multiple books per post in UBBv3! There have been times where I only have a few small things to say about a book and would rather review the whole series at once. It would be brilliant for DNF books if you have a collection of them.

  26. This is cool. I’m using a WordPress plugin but thinking of switching UBB this year. You also have a novel writer’s plugin for displaying books that I might try out as well. Excellent job! Exciting things coming!

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