30 May 2013
Posted under Rambles
Guys, I am moving out! I have reached the end of my tolerance and understanding. I really have enjoyed these past four months and I feel it is really unfair to all you guys, all over the world, being given inadequate service, and I really feel bad I haven’t been able to do anything about it. Especially people who I was hosting blog tours for, as well as interviews, cover reveals, and early reviews, that all of your fans could not always participate due to comment errors. For that I am sorry. But all of those same posts have been transferred so feel free to comment happily on all of them now.
The worst part was, that even when I wanted to move and let you all know, I was actually unable to log in, so that was excellent. Top work there Blog.com! So yes, sadly, we have moved. I tried to stay, I tried to stick with it, but it seems I just thought it was too much to ask for a website as seemingly professional as Blog.com to actually run a decent service. I am very lucky I was not one of those people who had paid for their blog, but I am very sorry to be leaving as well. In my short four months I have had 535 visitors from 45 countries and I am really sad and rather angry that these figures can’t come with me. I hope that you will follow me to my new site, nothing will have changed aside from the URL, I even managed to have the same theme which is excellent.
This probably would have happened sooner if my uni work wasn’t taking priority, but with that ending a couple of days ago I could finally regroup, de-stress from that and focus on dealing with the complications and frantic fiddly nature of the blog. Sorry it had to take a side step for awhile but uni can be very loud and pouty when it wants to be.
Hopefully the next four months will be less turbulent and uncertain, and I can rebuild my visitors and followers, and maybe reclaim my global reach I had before. I am trying very hard not to get absolutely furious at Blog.com for doing this, but it is hard, though a lot has been vented these past few weeks at various stages. The only reason I actually went to Blog.com was that they had my URL, no one else had it available, and now, as I tidy up and ship out, I end up where I could have been four months and a range of errors ago somewhere else with an abbreviated URL.
So I won’t continue to bore you with the pedantic nature of it all, I think I covered a lot in the previous apology post, so I will just announce that we have successfully jumped ship, and have established ourselves in our new home. I invite you all to move with me to http://lostinagoodbk.wordpress.com/!
Oh, and if you would like to comment and send conodolences, you can’t, because comments still don’t work (that’s 7 weeks and counting), and there are two very cute images attached to this but whether they will show or not is also uncertain (another key reason why we are moving right there).
25 May 2013
Posted under Rambles
Well, I just have to commend you on your ability to fall so spectacularly.Who would ever know under all of this there was a real business, you certainly haven’t been behaving like one of late. I write this as I know full well I am going to be leaving your services, I cannot take this anymore, the errors both real and unjustified, the block outs, the fact that users globally are always having an issue at some point in time; it is like an ongoing cycle of the same complaints, over and over.
What I do not understand Blog.com is how you fell so far so fast. You ran smoothly for months, and then suddenly you fall so tremendously it is remarkable. You also managed to drag us along with you which was bad form on your part. You tease us with your occasional errors and the fact we were sympathetic and understanding, then when you had us in your pockets you flipped the switch and we were stuck as you crumbled in front of us. It was quite a talent you have in that, like a ball rolling down a hill, you started slow and then there was no stopping you. Did you even try?
I commend your ability to stick with your absence and not letting anyone know what the problems were and what was going on, I also applaud that when you finally made an appearance, that your user interaction on Facebook and Twitter, which were few and far between in themselves, only consisted of you apologising for errors and not actually offering solutions or explanations. When you offered your apology simply saying sorry it was never going to be enough. People can only be patient for a limited time and if you had the decency to let us know why you had issue after issue, we may have been understanding; but as the supposed professional business you are running cannot get their issues fixed, then there is little comfort offered to the user.
I would love to be in those offices and just watch your complaints pile in, and the mass exodus of people leaving your site. Perhaps this will be your wakeup call Blog.com. People cannot be treated like this, they are using and paying for a service and you are supposed to deliver. The warning sign for me should have been that your New Year’s resolution was to fix the errors you had the past year and promise to get back to people with support more frequently; did I miss the red flag that should have appeared? Oh the naivety of new bloggers. Fool me once Blog.com. I apologise, my cynicism is showing.
I end this letter with the knowledge that while I will lose four months of stats and visitors when I move, I plan to be with my new site for a lot longer, and I will get them back. I cannot say the same for you and your users on this site. I wish you luck with that.
17 May 2013
Posted under Rambles
I would like to make a small announcement. I have only been blogging for about 4 months now, (anniversary is on the 23rd, totally not forgetting this time), and for the first few months as I baby stepped my way into this everything went well. There was the occasional slow point, typically when it was a heavy traffic time, but other than that it was going great.
Then it started to turn bad.
Initially it was that the website was down for a few hours here and there. Then there was the 502 error, and of course the db_connection fail. These usually only took the site down for hours, and only a couple times for more than a day. Twice was my site down for three days with an error no one had a solution for, but I was patient, and I waited.
Everything was going well for awhile, I was cautious, but I was positive that these minor issues were just part of having a large server and user amount and there is always bound to be errors.
But then my comments wouldn’t work. And a new comment system was put in place at the same time, still making comments impossible. People were getting errors when there was no reason too. I contacted support twice to try and find an answer, I have yet to hear from them. It has only been three weeks, I’m sure they are working on it [insert sarcasm font/tone/gestures]. Errors like these were starting to happen more frequently. The usually slow loading time suddenly became unable to load at all, and instead of slow periods, there was now only a fraction of time per day that the site was actually accessible.
This was starting to become bothersome. A few days ago, after finally getting back to us with a simple, “we’re sorry and we’re trying to fix it” post on their Facebook page no less. There was a blog post from them, but this would not load. So all we know is they are working on it, whatever ‘it’ turns out to be. And yet now, now my images are going away and I am unable to replace them the normal way. I have managed to do a sneaky roundabout way to get a few back on here, but until I can figure out how to repair this, or they actually manager to fix this, I am not sure where to go from here.
When I chose to start my blog I was trying to find the right name, the one that I would be happy with and would be proud to call my own. I had a list of about 5 choices in the end. I was originally going to WordPress.com, but all of my suggestions had been used already. So I tried Blogspot, where somehow all my url ideas had been used as well. So I came here, Blog.com, and I finally found a place where my url had not been take, I was over the moon. I dove in and started typing away madly, eager to get started and sharing books with people. Now it is starting to fail more often then not and I would like to apologise if it has been causing any issues. Also, small vent. The person who had lostinagoodbook.wordpress.com, your site is deleted, why am I not allowed to have that if you don’t want it? It isn’t just that though, the act of moving even if it was available is a tough one and one I really don’t want to try and do for many reasons. I would just like this site to work again. Surely it was good once right? Why should I have to leave my nice set up just because they cannot run a business?
They are not giving any straight answers as to why it is having so many issues, nor are they fixing any of the issues before new issues pile on top. This is not just an issue for me, and I know I am a lot better than people who not only paid to use this blog, but who use it in a much more professional manner than I do, but I would still like to let you know what was going on over here on this side of the screen away from mini Twitter anger bursts.
I guess I should post this before my ten minutes of ‘it’s working’ time is up. It isn’t as much a rant than just explanation which is a shame, I would love a sarcastic rant to get it out of my system but it’s almost midnight and I have to sleep so getting worked up won’t help. But I will remain the ever positive blogger and hope it improves soon, and say if it is working nicely next week, I have another cover reveal coming up. So let’s hope that works smoothly.
15 May 2013
Posted under Birthdays, General Tags: birthdays, four stars, l. frank baum
★ ★ ★ ★ – 4 Stars
L. Frank Baum, the mind behind The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was born today in 1856. Baum was the seventh of nine, and grew up in New York. He began writing at an early age, and with the help of a printing press his father gave him, he started publishing newspapers and small journals with his brother.
By the time Baum would come to write the story of Dorothy he was 46 years old and having tried many occupations before in newspapers, theatre, and even fancy poultry breeding which apparently was a thing at the time. The book became a best seller for two years after it was published, and was soon turned into a musical stage version. A lot of the novel was altered for the stage, including the removal of the Wicked Witch of the West, and was aimed at adults more than children. The plot is almost nothing like the original, though Dorothy landing on the witch ends up in there, as does the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion, though the Tinman and Scarecrow look like characters in a horror film. A summary of this play can be read here.
There have been many adaptations of The Wizard of Oz in many formats (the book and musical Wicked and the film The Great and Powerful Oz the most recent), and Baum himself wrote many more adventures for Dorothy and the Land of Oz. Initially Baum only intended on writing the one book, but the popularity and request for more Oz adventures made him write more. In some ways it is a bit like the Chronicles of Narnia, each book looks at the same area, but different sides of it, and new characters and places are explored, but it is still Oz. Dorothy even goes to live in Oz for a while which would be interesting to read about.
Baum died aged 63, and the final Oz book, Glinda of Oz, was published in 1920, a year after his death. Other writers continued the Oz series though, most notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote another nineteen in the series. When I learnt this I was rather glad I only even knew of one book. Similarly to Black Beauty, I think the story is very nice on its own, but I do understand where more stories could be added and sometimes prequels can work better than sequels.
Out of all the stories of Dorothy people remember the original book the most, possibly trumped only by the Judy Garland movie in 1939. It is very hard to review this book without comparing it to the classic movie, but I will try my best not to do it as much. The movie is very different from the book in some parts, while other parts are the same. The book has a bit more danger and violence, though it is only mild.
Baum wrote in 1900, “the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernised fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.” And I think it lives up to this immensely; there are the heroes that can be identified with, and the villains that need defeating. This brings the wonder of the fairytale to life in a new way and in a magical land that is far from the reality of the real world.
The story opens on Dorothy, a young orphaned girl living in Kansas with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry and the scene is set. Baum describes Aunt Em and Uncle Henry as being grey, with sullen looks with a stern face and no reason to be merry anymore. The Kansas landscape is also described as grey, grey prairie on every side, the ploughed land is a grey mass, the house had turned grey, and even the grass was not green, burned by the sun to turn it grey as well.
This description makes Dorothy’s arrival in Oz so much more wonderful; the colours describes gives an obvious contrast to the life she saw at home. The sequence of getting Dorothy to Oz is a simple one: Uncle Henry feels a cyclone coming but before Dorothy could get herself and Toto to safety in the cellar with her aunt, a great wind shakes the house causing Dorothy to fall over. The cyclone arrives suddenly and picks up the house, with Dorothy and Toto still inside.
When the house lands, Baum shows us the difference of Oz compared to Kansas instantly, as the bright colours and sunshine are our first introductions. As Dorothy leaves the house we are then introduced to the Munchkins, the people who live in the land. When the house fell, the Munchkins called for the Witch of the North and it is through the Munchkins and the witch we are told a little about the land.
The Munchkins explain about the four regions and who lives there, while the Witch of the North explains that Oz is an uncivilised country, and as such it still has witches and wizards amongst them, four witches in total, two good and two bad. Having crushed one with her house, Dorothy has freed the land from one of these witches. Dorothy is given the Witch of the East silver slippers as a gift, slippers that hold magical properties but no one knows what they are.
The Witch of the North is introduced as a little old woman, and when Dorothy is faced with the prospect of living with the Munchkins forever, the witch uses her magic to find a solution; this is of course to go to the City of Emeralds and seek help from the Great Wizard, Oz. What I found was interesting was that the slippers were not a key focus initially; in fact Dorothy puts them on the kitchen table at first and forgets about them. Only as she is about to leave she puts the slippers on mainly because her current footwear would be unacceptable for the walk she was about to do.
I enjoyed Baum’s descriptions in this book of characters and of the land; they are simple but very telling at the same time. He uses descriptions well and in the right places, so while the story may change quickly in some places, other parts are prolonged and drawn out. But all the while a lot of it does not delve into anything too deep and emotional; it has the air of practicality and doing what needs to be done.
Through her journey to the city Dorothy gathers companions by the way of a scarecrow, a tinman, and a lion, all choosing to come with Dorothy and ask the Wizard for their own desires. As the four travellers continue, they face many obstacles including deadly poppies, vicious Kalidahs (a monster with the head of a tiger and the body of a bear, oh my!), and a river.
The city itself is described as being beautiful, and Baum captures the feeling of its splendour well. The next stage in the journey begins when, upon meeting the Great Wizard, he gives Dorothy and her companions a mission, only then will he help them. The dangers and mild violence come from the Wicked Witch of the West herself, sending wolves, bees, soldiers, and crows after the group; these however are either killed or scared off by one of the party. The story with the Witch and Dorothy is so different from the movie is what makes it wonderful. There is a plan and a scheme from the Witch’s perceptive and she takes her time.
The act of getting Dorothy home is a long and complex process, we are shown almost all the regions of Oz, and Dorothy and her companions meet all three remaining witches in the land. There are many tasks and quests undertaken before Dorothy can get herself and Toto home, and it is through these journeys that Baum provides us with the fate of the companions and what is to become of them once Dorothy returns.
There are so many more characters and adventures in this book than in the movie it really makes the journey seem a lot more challenging, and puts a lot more emphasis on Dorothy and her friends in their actions and saving themselves. There is magic, but there is also a lot more simple bravery and saving oneself.
When Dorothy eventually returns home we are given the impression that her absence has been in real time, and it was not a dream. That is the best part; I often felt the movie made things too simple by simply having her wake up. The ending is abrupt, but the point is clear: it’s good to be home.
There is no indication of what happens now she has returned, whether things return to their normal grey selves or not, but this is where looking into the sequels helps if you wanted to know, it enables you to see what happens next to Dorothy and her family. It is definitely an excellent story, and one that has been loved by everyone, and often when something has been remade and recreated so often, it is nice to go back and see where it all began.
14 May 2013
Posted under Birthdays, General Tags: birthday, eoin colfer
Today is Eoin Colfer‘s birthday, the genius mind behind the Artemis Fowl series and a range of other wonderful books. Normally I would have a review but I have yet to finish the book so you will just have to wait, instead we will just have to look at the author who has written many amazing books, and who is also the man who was entrusted with writing another book to add to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers trilogy. When asked about writing this new addition Colfer said was “like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice…For years I have been finishing this incredible story in my head and now I have the opportunity to do it in the real world…It is a gift from the gods. So, thank you Thor and Odin.” As I mentioned in the Douglas Adams post, I think it was an excellent choice, he has yet to go wrong in my eyes; and, he also wrote a Doctor Who story, I mean is there anything he can’t do?
Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) was born in Ireland and in 2001 published the very first Artemis Fowl book, and aren’t we very glad he did. This started off the worldwide attention and his Artemis Fowl series is still going strong with the latest book The Last Guardian released in 2012. There are also many other works away from Artemis such as The Supernaturalist, and The Half-moon Investigations, both possibly gaining sequels, as well as standalone novels The Wish List, and Airman. There is even, for avid Artemis fans, a rage of companion books that shed more light on the Artemis world, and Colfer is even part of a collaborative novel called Click that is described as “one novel, ten authors”.
In April, Colfer did a Virtually Live talk where he discussed his new book, and first book of a new series, W.A.R.P The Reluctant Assassin. The full talk can be watched here, it does go for 50 minutes but it is well worth it. Colfer discusses his new book, where he gets his ideas, as well as some very funny stories and even a little bit of magic. I have to say listening to his stories about writing in school were so inspiring and amazing, it was excellent. I always love listening to authors discuss their ideas and when they started writing or wanted to write, but listening to Colfer as he spoke about the way he created stories as a child was absolutely amazing to say the least.
W.A.R.P, which stands for Witness Anonymous Relocation Program, is his new series and the first book, The Reluctant Assassin, is about Riley, a orphan teenager living in Victorian London. I love when stories are set in the past, especially old London. There is something so great to read stories set in a real past, but with fiction in between it all. Riley is apprenticed to Mr Albert Garrick, an illusionist who uses his abilities to gain access to victim’s dwellings. However when the future and the past collide, Riley is unwittingly transported to modern day London, with Garrick alongside. In a modern day world, and with the help of a 17 year old FBI agent, Riley suddenly finds himself having to find Garrick and try and stop history from being rewritten.
Based on the summary of this first novel, I have to say I am super excited about this new series. I think the idea is creative; it does make me think a little bit of the weeping angels in Doctor Who which is not at all connected but interesting all the same, besides Colfer’s concept with most probably be less scary. With Colfer’s books, I trust that he will give us nothing but his best and create stories, characters, ideas, and worlds that we can engross ourselves in and stand by them long into the future; you only have to look at Artemis Fowl to know this is not only possibly but very true.
So I would like to wish Eoin Colfer a very happy birthday, thank him for giving us not only giving the world the masterpiece that is everything Artemis, but all the other wonderful books he has written, and if you have not yet read anything by Colfer yet, I urge you to grab a copy of something, anything and bring yourself into the wonderful world and creations that Colfer has to offer.