WordPress without WordPress.com?

A question, really, more than a post. Is anyone here hosting their blog somewhere else? Somewhere cheaper than $180 that WordPress.com seems to be introducing soon as their cheapest add-free version?

Ideally, somewhere with no block editors?

WordPress.org suggests some hosting options, I wonder, how easy they are for amateurs, and do their migrations tools work…

There are some guides online, but perhaps someone can suggest a tried and trusted one 🙂

I assume WordPress.com users would still be able to comment and get notifications about a WordPress-not-com blog? That’s really the crucial thing, as it’s all about the community.

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Reading Ukrainian authors, thinking about Russia

Since the war began, and it’s been a month already, it became my main concern. I’m listening to the news more than it’s healthy, probably, but I also decided to go beyond the breaking news, and I reached for some recent Ukrainian literature. I have to admit I have not been keeping up, I’ve read some during my university days, but nothing recently. And a lot is going there, apparently, with much getting translated into Polish. Not as much into English, I’m afraid, but I found something that made huge impression on me that is available, so after a few more paragraphs of introduction I’ll review Serhiy Zhadan’s The Orphanage: A Novel. I wanted to write a quick review, but it turned out into quite a long text about history and politics…

What makes writing this post difficult is that I’m back to Polish sources, not so much when I’m looking for the news, here I have some excellent outlets and pages in English in my mix, but for the more in-depth cultural analysis. And this is a very interesting front. Ukraine is not only defending itself on the frontlines of this vicious war, but also re-defining its national identity, a process that started… well, back in the XIX century 😉 but in its current phase – after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. There was a referendum then, with over 90% of the voters supporting Ukraine’s independence, but in the 90ties it was independence of a weak state that tried to be equally close to Russia and to the West. Large part of its population considered Russian to be their native language, especially people in the East, but initially also in the central part that includes the capital, Kyiv. For many, a difference between being Ukrainian and Russian wasn’t clear. Whole regions were largely pro-Russian, and supported staying away from such institutions of Western imperialism as EU or NATO. Fierce nationalism dominated the West of the country, cities like Lviv. But it was a smaller, neglected part of the state.

Ukraine was a poor and corrupted country of great people that largely lost hope for things to get better – that is my own observation from the times when I used to visit more often. Then something changed, and it was a change many people missed, initially. A political one. Elections are not always fair in this part of the world, and often the population is powerless to do anything about that. Or doesn’t even care, convinced that all politicians are the same. Ukrainians refused to accept rigged elections, and more than once. They showed a love of liberty and democracy that was never really present in Russia, and that fact proved to be important. Russia, unable to manipulate Ukraine from the shadows, moved in forcefully, conquering Crimea and then parts of two of Ukraine’s easternmost regions – the former was incorporated into Russia after a referendum, the latter left as pseudo-states, ruled by Russian agents and constantly attacking Ukrainian army. After 8 years of a low-intensity (but quite bloody) conflict, Putin told his horde to attack with full force on multiple fronts and the results we see on the news since February 24.

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Favourite Visual Media of 2021

Piotrek: Ok, so we already told you about our favourite books, now the time comes for the visual media. And it’s been a good year on this front, as well! Not so much for cinema, I’ve only been… twice, I think? But there were some great shows and a few good movies also. With frequent lockdowns there I had time to see quite a lot, but here I’ll only mention the best of the best, and only things premiered in 2021.

First, Piotrek’s favourite movies.

Dune

It was the movie of the year, definitely. Can’t wait for it to get to one of the streaming services so I can re-watch. There were several great reviews around, including a glowing one from Bookstooge that I totally agree with. SF’s ultimate classic got an adaptation it deserved, and that sadly Lynch did not deliver. Atmosphere, music, casting, scenography – all shined and played well together. It could be longer, some things are missing, and I think we deserve a Director’s Cut with extra 30-45 minutes, but even the theatrical version was excellent.

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The Best of 2021 in Books and Comics

Oh, 2021… it was, in many ways, quite similar to 2020, actually. We did a general summary of the year here, and now the time comes to sum up our reading/watching experiences. This year, we decided to combine our best and worst title is one place, one reason being it’s already mid-January…

Piotrek: and another, at least in my case, that I mostly made really good choices and there’s really not that much bad stuff to write about.

Ola: Oh, for me this reading year was more of a mixed bag, with some truly flabbergasting titles from NetGalley – and some truly amazing, too. It was generally a pretty good year, reading-wise. Lots of solid titles, not too many re-reads… I will also remember this year as my introduction to the marvellous metaverse of manga – and that journey will continue!

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Re-Enchanted 2021

Last year around this time we’ve been hoping for a better next year – well, with this crazy year almost at its end it’s kind of nice that at least this one thing hasn’t changed, and once again we are hopeful that 2022 will be better than 2021… 😉 With pandemic getting its second, third and fourth breath, four-month-long lockdown in Auckland and various restrictions in different places around the world, and large swathes of live inevitably altered, 2021 had certainly been an interesting year.

But at least in terms of blogging and reading, 2021 had turned out to be quite all right. While we haven’t experienced another huge jump in terms of visits, we also haven’t experienced a slump – in short, 2021 was more or less equal to 2021 in the number of views (roughly 15k) and surpassed last year in the number of visits (nearly 8k vs 7k last year). We’ve had similar number of comments, 2,5k, while the number of likes grew to over 3k – yay! There was a noticeable downward trend for things other than reviews on the blog, alas, as with Piotrek making some momentous life decisions and Ola branching out to painting and Youtube, tags and some such became a luxury ;). And yet, we still managed to churn out a few more posts than last year – we are very proud of ourselves 🙂

We are incredibly grateful for our lasting blogging friendships around the world and for finding new friends in all the corners of Earth. In those times of growing divisions, anxiety and anger it’s wonderful to find like-minded people. So big thank you to all of you!!!

Our most popular post in terms of views was Ola’s review of Mexican Gothic (on the podium for the second year in a row, with over 270 views), followed closely by a very civil yet still rather scathing review of E.J. Beaton’s The Councillor, and glowing reviews of two Neal Asher’s books: The Technician, with over 215 views, and The Line of Polity (knocked down from the first place to the fourth) with nearly 200 views. Piotrek’s love letter to Honor Harrington is still going strong, fifth this year, and a surprising sixth place with 175 views went to our The Worst of 2020 😉

Our most liked post this year was Ola’s post about her Etsy shop, nearing 70 likes, and two reviews with 60 likes each: a critical take on Alix E. Harrow’s popular The Ten Thousand Doors of January and, again, E.J. Beaton’s The Councillor. Among the most popular posts was also, unsurprisingly this year, a review of Dune. The most commented post, which broke the 100 comments barrier, was our birthday reveal: Birthdays, spicy reveals and even a tag, oh my! – again, thanks to all of you who visited and commented!

While we abstained from the majority of the big bloggish events this year, we did take part in Witch Week organized by Chris and Lizzie. This year’s theme was Treason and Plot, and we were very happy to be able to contribute with a post about one of our favourite authors, Roger Zelazny.

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