Here's the challenge: commit to reading 50 books and watching 50 movies in the next year! (Find out more...)

The good news is, there are no real rules. We do have a few suggestion though! (Find out more...)

Doing things together is the best isn't it? Come sign up with us and then we can cheer each other on! (Find out more...)

You can win the power of self edification. You can win bragging rights. You can win over your soul mate! Or you could just not win anything. (Find out more...)

Kick the challenge up a notch by picking a themed major and minor for your movies and books. Can we suggest a few? (Find out more...)

The 50/50 Challenge The Rules Signing Up What Do I Win? Major/Minors

Welcome to year six of the fiftyfifty challenge. If you've been following along for awhile, you'll notice that we've returned to our old Blogger homepage. Mainly it's because we got hacked! Yes, we've made the big time and our Wordpress site got hacked. So while we're sad to lose the forums and members, we're going back to a more stable experience.

So here we go, can challenge yourself for another year of fifty books and fifty movies? Let's go!

Our Twitter is @fiftyfiftyme and email us if you need anything! Have a great start to 2017!

Things To Do:
  1. Sign up for our mailing list, which will be the easiest way for us to communicate with you.
  2. Read, watch, record what you’re consuming and share away (leave a link in the comments below for your blog/Pinterest/etc if you like)! And if you want to guest post on, we’d love it. Just contact us!

As we grow, this is probably the best way to stay updated. We won’t use it to spam you or to send you unnecessary emails. Maybe just once or twice a year to keep you updated as to what is doing. Note: If you’ve signed up for, you’ll receive an email automatically inviting you to join the mailing list.

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Welcome to year five of the fiftyfifty challenge. Year five!!! After adding +PLUS in 2014, and +BUDDIES last year, we’re ready to go back to basics.

If you’ve made it this far as a returnee, you know the incredible benefits of reading fifty books and watching fifty movies a year. Better skin, sharper intellect, incredible wit, it’s all there within reach if you challenge yourself to consume media at a torrential pace. Plus you’re funner at dinner parties!

We’re still doing majors and minors but with the original recipe back on-board, it’s gonna be fifty books and fifty movies…by yourself! Good luck everyone!

Our Twitter is @fiftyfiftyme and email us if you need anything! Have a great start to 2016!

  • What is
  • Rules & FAQ

Things To Do:

  1. Register for the site if you haven’t already. Introduce yourself on the Community topic page if you like!
  2. Sign up for our mailing list, which will be the easiest way for us to communicate with you.
  3. Read, watch, record what you’re consuming and share away (leave a link in the comments below for your blog/Pinterest/etc if you like)! And if you want to guest post on, we’d love it. Just contact us!
  4. Come to the forums to say “hi” and tell us what you’re reading/watching!

It’s our fourth year of! Four!?! You know what that means right? After adding +PLUS last year, we’re ready for another twist… Yes, introducing with a buddy! Officially we’ll call it fiftyfifty+BUDDY, or something like that.

What that means is that now you can split your 100 books and 100 movies with a friend. Team up with someone, and encourage each other to read and watch more! (Rumors are that we came up with this grand idea because neither Lilly nor Jon crossed the finish line last year…) We’re still here to say that should be a true challenge, but maybe you’ll want to find a partner and stay accountable to each other. There’s no pressure like peer pressure right?

Welcome back to all our returnees and hello all you gorgeous new people! Come to the forums to say “hi” and sign up with a friend for +BUDDY.

  • What is
  • Rules & FAQ

Introducing +BUDDY
We’re still doing majors and minors, you can still do +PLUS, but this year we’re still encouraging people to interact with each other, but we’re also adding another wrinkle . Yes, you can add a friend to the challenge and team up! That means between the two of you, you’ll split up 100 movies and 100 books. One hundred! Maybe you can split the challenge up, like you would call out hands in spades. “I’ll do thirty movies and sixty books, you do seventy and forty. Deal?” So yeah, 2015, it’s the year of sharing!

Our Twitter is @fiftyfiftyme and email us if you need anything! Have a great start to 2015!

Things To Do:

  1. Register for the site if you haven’t already. Introduce yourself on the Community topic page if you like!
  2. Sign up for our mailing list, which will be the easiest way for us to communicate with you.
  3. Read, watch, record what you’re consuming and share away (leave a link in the comments below for your blog/Pinterest/etc if you like)! And if you want to guest post on, we’d love it. Just contact us!

Welcome to our third year of Can you believe it? Three years! That means for some of us we’ve booked 100 books and 100 movies since 2011. Ahem, “some of us.” No worries though, as this challenge is about challenging ourselves to consume more than we normally would. A book and a movie per week may seem daunting but we’ve been so happy with the people who have undertaken our challenge. This year we vow to do a better job of connecting people, maintaining the site, and um, achieving our goals. So come to the forums to say “hi” and sign up for another year of the challenge.

We’re still doing majors and minors, we’re still encouraging people to interact with each other, but we’re also adding a new wrinkle for this year. Some Overachievers have already been adding on to their challenges so let’s make it official: fiftyfifty+PLUS, meaning you’re going to try to read fifty books, watch fifty movies, and do fifty of something else. Whoa! Some people have chosen music albums, some people are going for graphic novels, Lilly is doing her +Plus on recipes. Whatever you want! Get creative and tell us what you’re up to. Again, our Twitter is @fiftyfiftyme and email us if you like! Have a great start to 2014!

Things To Do:

  • Register for the site if you haven’t already. Introduce yourself on the Community topic page if you like!
  • Sign up for our mailing list, which will be the easiest way for us to communicate with you.
  • Read, watch, record what you’re consuming and share away (leave a link in the comments below for your blog/Pinterest/etc if you like)! And if you want to guest post on, we’d love it. Just contact us!

Come on over to the new site, now with profiles, forums, and a brand new design! Please change your RSS links too, if necessary!

[Edit: 2017] The new site on Wordpress broke down, we're back on Blogger! So, um, just stick around here.

Sculpture by Su Blackwell

We had our first finisher months ago, and we know there must have been so many more. Just on Twitter alone we saw quite a few people announce their successful 50/50 campaigns and each one urged the rest of us slowpokes forward to complete the challenge. Even if you didn't finish, the gift is in the trying right? We'd love to know how you did, so comment away!

Here's some wrap up posts and tweets. We hope you'll join us again in 2013:

Boy Girl Party
Fiddy's [Two] Cents
Maurene Goo
Miranda Childs
Ms Gabbana
Olivia's Papa

Please link below, or tweet us and we'll add you on! Thanks all!

Illustration by Nan Lawson

They said it couldn't be done.
They called us crazy.
In some cases they just called us losers.

Me: "Dad, are you going to join us and do!"
Dad: "NO. Unlike you guys, I have a life!!!!!!"

My started like this - Jon came up with this brilliant idea to read 50 books and watch 50 movies during the year. Inspired, I got the idea that not only would I want to join him (because it sounded like a massive nerdy undertaking, and therefore, just my sort of thing), but perhaps others would too. Looking at our site now, 355 people publicly signed on, with others doing it on the wings.

And here we are, one by one, crossing the finish line.

As you can imagine, my brain is a little bit fried (particularly as I lived the month of December in a state of college finals-style panic). But here's the list! ** denotes favorites.

1) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Agatha Christie)
2) Knowing Your Value (Mika Brzezinski) **
3) Before I Go to Sleep (SJ Watson)
4) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (Jennifer E Smith)
5) The Tiger's Wife (Tea Obreht)
6) Yeah, I Said It (Wanda Sykes) **
7) Food Rules (Michael Pollan)
8) Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
9) Before the Mortgage (ed. Christina Amini & Rachel Hutton)
10) Divergent (Veronica Roth)
11) Lions of Little Rock (Kristin Levine) ** (Loved this one. Read my review here)
12) Stories I Only Tell My Friends (Rob Lowe)
13) StoriTelling (Tori Spelling)
14) Uglies (Scott Westerfield)
15) The Little White Care
16) L'Amant (Marguerite Duras)
17) Fifty Shades of Crap Grey
18) The Story Behind the Song
19) Scar Tissue (Anthony Kiedis)
20) Trinity (Leon Uris)
21) Trinity (Leon Uris. 900 pages)
22) But Enough About Me (Jancee Dunn)
23) Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) **
24) I Feel Bad About My Neck (Nora Ephron) **
25) Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) - (Sarah Mylnowski)
26) The Lover's Dictionary (Devid Levithan)
27) I Remember Nothing (and Other Reflections) - (Nora Ephron)
28) Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (David Sedaris)
29) The Game (Neil Strauss)
30) The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (Aimee Bender)
31) As Husbands Go (Susan Isaacs)
32) Code Name Verity
33) The Giver (Lois Lowry)
34) Is Everyone Hanging Out WIthout Me? (Mindy Kaling)
35) Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (Maria Semple)
36) More Baths, Less Talking (Nick Hornby)
37) Soulacoaster (R Kelly)
38) The Fault In Our Stars (John Green) **
39) How to Be a Woman (Caitlin Moran) **
40) The Affair (Lee Child)
41) Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys
42) Tiny Beautiful Things (Cheryl Strayed) ** (Obsessed. Read my review here)
43) Seriously, I'm Kidding (Ellen Degeneres)
44) Confessions of a Video Vixen (Karrine Steffans)
45) Maus (Art Spiegelman)
46) Not Dead & Not For Sale (Scott Weiland)
47) Cool, Calm and Contentious (Merrill Markoe)
48) In the Bag (Kate Klise)
49) Smut (Alan Bennett)
50) For the Love of Letters (Samara O'Shea)

You Are a Miserable Excuse for a Hero (Bob Powers)/ Choose Your Own Adventure for adults
The Moon Daughter, Zoe Ghahremani (Pub date: 2013)

1) Timer **
2) Absurdistan
3) Muppets **
4) Gattaca
5) A Separation **
6) The Artist **
7) In Time
8) W/E ** (one of my absolute favorite films this year)
9) The Joneses
10) Iron Lady
11) Friends with Kids
12) Being Elmo
13) Hunger Games
14) I Do
15) In the Land of Blood and Honey
16) Rue Cases-Negres
17) The Best Marigold Hotel
18) The Grey
19) Rock of Ages **
20) The Dictator
21) Little Manhattan **
22) The Intouchables (I haven't shut up about this since seeing it)
23) Dark Knight Rises
24) The Descendants
25) Serious Moonlight
26) Ruby Sparks
27) From Rome with Love
28) Up
29) Magic Mike
30) The Names of Love
31) Moonrise Kingdom
32) Mirror Mirror
33) The Runaway Bride
34) Argo
35) The Sessions
36) First Position **
37) Katy Perry: Part of Me [oh no she didn't. oh yes, she did]
38) Limitless
39) Anna Karenina **
40) Dumb and Dumber (had somehow never seen this)
41) Manon des Sources
42) Out of Sight
43) Rebound
44) Still Bill
45) No Strings Attached
46) Five Year Engagement
47) Safety Not Guaranteed
48) Les Miserables
49) Lincoln
50) Happy

Post-Game Wrapup:
In what is no surprise to anyone who knows me, it was harder for me to get around to the movies than the books. People ask if we cheat and read children's picture books, etc. to get the count up. No, although I did foray into Young Adult books on a few occasions (The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, is one of the best books I've read in recent years, actually). And I definitely generally found myself more willing to throw a book aside (or turn off a movie) if it wasn't doing the trick. Getting stuck and bored is one of the reasons people turn away from reading, I think, so I managed to avoid that almost completely.

In general I was so eager to hit the numbers that I gobbled up whatever came my way, which made it a much more interesting year of reading, taking in recommendations from other people at a pace I've never done before. In the end, it's a complete mash of topics and quality, but it was also, without a doubt, fun as hell.

I am most definitely signing on to do this for 2013. Starting tomorrow, in fact. No rest for the wicked, I say.

Reposted from I Have Writer's Blog (12/31/2012).

I can list on one hand the number of books that have left me breathless and in tears.  The most recent is Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things, a compilation from her Dear Sugar column.  I had seen the book around, but didn't think much of it.  From the cover I thought it might be a shallow dating column from some women's magazine that was already full of enough junk advice that I didn't need more. How mistaken I was.

I opened Tiny Beautiful Things a couple of days ago and entered a world in which people write in to confess and and try to make sense of their sins, or their deepest fears and insecurities, or their latest personal tragedy, with a complete stranger who responds each and every time with a logic, compassion, and a tapestry of words so beautiful that I found myself literally breathless.

Although she could have just doled out some smartly-written advice, the brilliance in the column is in how far she goes into the trenches with her readers.  She scrapes up the very personal memories and stories, the lessons and experiences we, as strangers, have absolutely no right to access, and lays them before us, like a most patient teacher, so that we may learn something.  She doesn't flinch as she offers up her scars, so we can run a finger along them, perhaps even recoil, before looking again. Closely.

While I have been reading Tiny Beautiful Things I have been consumed by the themes, the plot lines of the letters, and the stories Strayed used to convey her ultimate advice. Consumed, I tell you. I hadn't even finished the book before I'd bought a few copies to fire off to friends, and as I read I kept a mental tally of the others who will find it under their Christmas trees, in their birthday gifts, slipped to them in a moment when they need it most.

I realize I'm being vague here, and it's a conscious effort not to spoil the reading experience that I hope you will have after reading this.  I understood why certain topics hit home with me, but what of the others? How was I so affected by stories of marital infidelity, of grief after the loss of a child, of dealing with middle-aged body image issues, situations that couldn't be further from my realities?

This, my friends, is the key to good writing.  We often talk about fiction being transcendent, but I don't think we talk enough about nonfiction and its ability to bring us into other people's stories and lives and make us feel their pain for the moments we share. Dear Sugar's advice is directed at the person who has written in, but in the same way that a parent will say something to a spouse fully knowing the child is listening in.  It is written to them, but entirely for our benefit.

Under the layers of jealousy or greed or regret or guilt or anger, or the hundred other emotions swept onto these pages is an underlying theme that we choose how we live. We do not choose our circumstances or the hand we're dealt - and as you read letter pile up on letter, you realize that, no matter how wildly different our lives come out, everyone has problems, everyone has difficult choices to make. Although the details of our individual lives couldn't be more different, the themes are shockingly similar.

I'm convinced that each reader will take something different away from this book. Me? This: We do not choose some of the detours or roadblocks or  forks in the road, but we choose how we proceed. We choose how much compassion and patience we bring to the most difficult circumstances. It isn't meant to be easy, but it can be done. Most importantly, we choose how we work forgiveness - of others and of ourselves - into the narrative of our lives.

This book may, like me, make you tear up in public - repeatedly. But it will be worth every tightening of the chest, every locked-away story or memory that comes up to visit you. Promise.

Reposted from I Have Writer's Blog (12/16/2012).

So it’s down to the wire.  Please tell me I’m not alone in this 5-weeks-left induced panic. Personally I’m at 38 books, 38 movies. Which means that I have my work cut out for me.

What is the graceful way to handle this challenge? I’ve mentally put myself in Finals mode. It’s game time and I have no intention of fizzing out on a challenge that I helped start. I mean, what would happen to all the millions of people counting on me? Or hey, just you?

I have devised a surefire way to get through the final month of the challenge, and here it is. Take notes.

1) Celeb Trash
When my bookclub disbanded for lack of steady, engaged participation, I asked a friend what would make her actually show up regularly to book club. She responded instantly – “read trashy celebrity books”.  So we started Celebrity Trash Bio Book Club and lo and behold, people did their reading. Why? Because celeb bios are usually written for the least common denominator. They know their audience- the audience has a frazzled attention span and is used to getting updates on said celeb’s life while children tug at them and they are checking out a week’s worth of groceries. This is good reading for when you’re busy. The books virtually read themselves.  In the past month, I gobbled up Mindy Kaling’s dripping with sarcasm Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? as well as R Kelly’s Soulacoaster.

2) Young Adult
Again with the “books for people who don’t have an attention span”.  Young adult might arguably be the hardest genre to write – you’re competing with raging hormones. I mean, if that’s not competition, what is?  As a result, many young adult novels tend to be witty, fast-paced, and high concept. I finished The Fault In Our Stars by John Green in a matter of a day. High concept: Teens meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. Granted, I spent part of that day openly weeping in a cafĂ©, but you’re a big kid, you can handle it.

3) Essays
Here’s why I love essays: because the author’s sole goal is to engage you about a topic. They’re bite sized nuggets (“Oh, I’ll just finish this one. Oh just one more!) and before you know it, the book is done! This weekend I read More Baths, Less Talking, a brilliantly titled collection of Nick Hornby’s Believer magazine columns. Don’t know what to read? Read about other people reading!

4) Documentaries
Documentaries are a good bet for because they’re shorter than the average film but you feel like you learn something. So not only do you knock out one of your films, but you can feel intellectually superior. Consider First Position, the moving documentary about children trying for ballet scholarships (the ballet equivalent of Spellbound).  Too highbrow? You too can rent Part of Me, the Katy Perry documentary. And if you, like me, are suffering from an emotional hangover imparted by the book described in #2, you can get teary for a second time in a day when you see Katy Perry embrace her now-ex Russell Brand (whose Booky Wook you may have read, c/o #1, above. Circular, people)

The battle is not yet lost. I’m not saying to cheat. I’m saying give in to a little temptation, a little brain candy, and you might find the challenge just happens to finish itself.


Do you have a final countdown tip or recommendation to share with your fellow fiftyfifty’ers? A word of inspiration? A deep dark confession? Join us in the comment section below, won’t you?

Some people have asked if we're doing the Fifty Fifty Challenge next year. The answer: heck yes!

Even as we're scrambling to finish out our fifty books/movies this year, we're already gearing up for 2013.

Currently we're working on getting a new site together that will (hopefully) give us member pages and a way to show each other our lists, because that's something Blogger hasn't been able to do for us.

We didn't expect so many people to participate during the first year of the challenge -- seeing as we just started sign ups December 2011 -- so this has been amazing and we want put together some better tools for people to support, cheer, and meet one other. (Not to mention declare our majors and minors!)

So the timeline is for a new site to go up is mid-December, and then full scale signing up from then on. For now, if you want to make sure you don't miss when the new site is ready, you can subscribe to our mailing list below. Don't worry, there will be no spam or anything, we just figured a mailing list is the best way to keep everyone updated and informed for next year.

Thank you all for a great 2012 and hope the next six weeks are productive!

There should be a space for people to tell us when they've finished the challenge! We already had our first finisher but as the end of 2012 nears, there's bound to be more. Please link to any "I'm finished!" posts (or just comment away below) as I'm sure the rest of us would love to check them out!

Do we need some celebratory buttons or something like that? Or is it enough to know we read fifty books and watched fifty movies?

[When we saw that we had our first 50/50 finisher, we had to get a guest post from @selinalock. Read on and then go congratulate her!]

Hello fellow fiftyfiftyme participants. I'm Selina, a part-time science librarian, writer and comic book publisher/editor. I've been asked to do a guest post as I was the first person to officially declare I had hit the fiftyfiftyme target of reading fifty books new to me and watching fifty films new to me.

I completed the challenge back at the end of August and one of the things the fiftyfiftyme team wondered was whether there was a particular month or season where I had struggled to keep up with the challenge. Well, if I hadn't already hit target then September onwards would have been the answer, which is why this blog post is over a month late!

It was all Camilla's fault...
For the last couple of years I kept track of what books I'd read by adding their covers to a Facebook photo album. In January I finished adding the books I'd read in 2011, which totalled seventy books. My friend Camilla pointed out that if I'd read that many in a year then I'd have no problem joining in with the fiftyfiftyme challenge... obviously I then asked what the fiftyfiftyme challenge was, and one thing led to another...

So, as you can gather I was already an avid reader before taking up the challenge, and have been since about the age of eleven. I also enjoy watching films but do have a tendency to re-watch old favourites, like John Hughes’ 1980s teen movies or the comforting magical boarding school feel of the Harry Potter films.

What I thought the fiftyfiftyme challenge would help me do was to make more use of the extensive DVD collection my boyfriend has built up. In particular I was keen to watch some classic and cult horror films, as we have many friends who are horror writers and fans and are aghast by my lack of education. I avoided the horror genre in books and films as a teenager after witnessing my sister have one too many nightmares that would wake the whole household up!

I certainly managed to do this during fiftyfifyme as I watched things like Misery, Candyman, both versions of The Woman in Black, Alien and several others. It also helped that my boyfriend was very supportive of the challenge aims so was more than happy to go to the cinema or suggest movies we could watch that would count towards the challenge.

I did have an advantage over some other challengers, as being part-time, I had a little more time on my hands than some of you. I also have a disability which means that I am often sofa bound for several hours a day with little else to do (though it also sometimes leaves me too tired to concentrate on reading or watching anything very challenging... so please don't judge me for some of the films I chose to watch when ill!).

In terms of when and where I read: I have a pink Sony eReader which lives in my handbag, and I read on the bus home from work. Then I normally have one or two print books on the go at home at any one time, so that I can always read something that matches my mood or concentration level.

I read a lot of speculative fiction (sf&f, horror, cross-over genres) and a particular soft spot for YA fiction. Plus, as a comic book writer/editor/publisher/fan I read a wide range of graphic novels.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...
Of course, what many of you might be asking is what were my favourite and least favourite books and films from each fifty? I found this a difficult question, so I'm going to cheat a little and divide my favourite books up into several categories!

Favourite Adult Novel:
 (This is a tie between two books)
The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey, Linda Carey & Louise Carey
When three hundred concubines and their children find themselves about to be executed in the middle of the desert they must take extraordinary measures and find the strength within themselves to escape. The Careys took inspiration from the setting and structure of The Arabian Nights to weave together and embroider tales upon tales, just as the women of the story learn to weave, embroider and tell tales to survive. The rise and fall of the women of Bessa will sweep you along in an exciting, emotional and complex journey.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
Tara returns home twenty years after disappearing in the Charnwood Outwoods during bluebell season. She maintains that she has only been gone for six months and she doesn't appear to have aged. The impact of her return is felt in different ways by her parents, her brother and the boyfriend that was accused of her murder. I liked the way that we get a glimpse of some possibly dangerous fairy folk while the story also deals with the immediate assumption that Tara must be mad or lying. I also loved the fact that it was set locally (in Leicestershire) with locales I'm familiar with.

Favourite YA Novel:
The Ninnies by Paul Magrs
Alan's Dad disappears on his window cleaning round, whisked off by the tall, skinny, giggling Ninnies, but no-one will believe Alan. Not until he meets the adventure loving Amy from the local shop and the strange oldsters who live in the flat upstairs. Things go from strange to stranger as more people disappear and parts of animals (yes, parts) get taken from the Bonnitime Zoo. Magrs does a wonderful job of creating an eccentric and lovable cast of characters. Alongside some seriously creepy monsters and an interesting mystery, you have the best kind of children's book. I loved some of the pop culture and nostalgic references too.

Bubbling Under: I also enjoyed The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Favourite Graphic Novel:
Spandex - Fast and Hard by Martin Eden
Attack of the 50ft Lesbian, Pink Ninjas and a rainbow of colourful gay superheroes. What's not to love?

Least Favourite Book:
Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson
I've read all the previous books in the Undead series and I usually like the light-hearted humour surrounding Betsy, vampire Queen, her quest for designer shoes and her motley band of friends. This instalment sees Betsy and her younger sister Laura (who happens to be the antichrist) visiting Hell and doing a spot of time travelling. The focus on Betsy and Laura with little evidence of the rest of the gang just meant that unfortunately, the characters seemed to descend into whiny parodies of themselves.

Favourite Film:
The Avengers (aka: Avengers Assemble)
I had to pick this as I managed to put my back out at the cinema laughing so much at a certain scene with Hulk and Thor! We watched Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor & Hulk (as we'd seen The Incredible Hulk more recently) in the week before the film to get us into the mood and remind us of how the plots might lead into The Avengers. I don't think you had to do this to understand or enjoy the film, but it probably enhanced our enjoyment. I thought it did a great job of showcasing all the characters, with some hilarious character moments while having enough of a plot and danger element to keep the action going at a rollicking pace.

Bubbling Under: The Cabin in the Woods, Midnight in Paris and The Awakening.

Least Favourite Film:
The Hangover Part II
I remember finding some of The Hangover quite funny, especially some of the surreal and unlikely things that go on. There were a few bits in this that were amusing, but adding a sixteen year old boy into the mix did not work. It mainly just showed how stupid and irresponsible the main characters were. It can be funny watching the characters doing drugs and being in danger as adults but far less so when they drag a teenager into the same world. And on what planet does this then make them better husband material...!?

Dishonourable mentions: John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars (though that almost makes it into the so bad, it's good category).

I've had great fun taking part in the fiftyfiftyme challenge and I'm continuing to add films and books to my lists, so that I can see what total I hit by the end of the year.

Hope you're all doing well and enjoying your reading and watching.


Courtesy of Amodini | | Originally posted 9.25.2012

Title : Dog Stars
Author : Peter Heller
Genre : Dystopian
Publisher : Knopf
Pages : 336
Source : Netgalley/Publisher ARC
Rating : 4.5/5

It’s a dystopian world out there. And there are few survivors, most of the world’s population and wildlife having succumbed to a fatal flu. Those that remain, remain only because they are hardy and resourceful, or because they have “the blood” and nobody can come near them for risk of infection. Our hero is Big Hig, who has lost wife and unborn child to the flu. He survives because he has combined forces with terse neighbor Bruce Bangley, to keep the predators at bay. Bangley brings with him his large arsenal of guns and ammunition and Hig has the “Beast” – his 80 year old four seater Cessna. They enforce a perimeter, and patrol it via land and air, and make short shrift of trespassers. Hig survives year after year with only Bangley, dog Jasper and painful memories for company. Their only other (harmless) human neighbors are a band of people – the Menonites – who have “the blood”, and live within flying distance.

Hig’s plane’s radio is silent, because there is no one around, but he calls out anyway, hoping for a reply. In all these 9 years only once has his call been answered. Repeat mayday calls have not brought about a repeat response. He has almost given hope of finding that lost radio caller, until one day, after one more unexpected loss, Hig, in desperation, decides to fly out beyond the Point of No Return – the point at which he would not have enough fuel to get back – to find other survivors . . .

I elected to read this via NetGalley because of the interesting premise: what happens after the apocalypse? And those that do survive, how do they do it ? Heller paints a vivid picture, via Hig’s words – clipped thought they maybe. Initially there are only two characters, and a dog, and there isn’t much going on except survival, but the book is un-put-down-able. Heller has a way with words, short sentences, casually said, but resonating with feeling:
"Sometimes back then, fishing with Jasper up the Sulphur, I hit my limit. I mean it felt my heart might just burst. Bursting is different than breaking. Like there is no way to contain how beautiful. Not it either, not just beauty. Something about how I fit. This little bend of smooth stones, the leaning cliffs. The smell of spruce. The small cutthroat making quiet rings in the black water of a pool. And no need to thank even. Just be. Just fish. Just walk up the creek, get dark, get cold, it is all a piece. Of me somehow."
Hig as the main protagonist, is at once strong and weak. Smart enough to cope with changing circumstances, he is not quite the ruthless survivalist Bangley is; Bangley has to get him out of more than one life-threatening situations. He longs for companionship, unlike trigger-happy Bangley, who is fine with solitude, and not in favor of Hig flying off of on a wild goose chase. But vulnerable as Hig is, Heller builds him up beautifully; you root for him, you cry in his sorrow and laugh in his joy.

Hig’s story, because that is what “Dog Stars” is, boils down to one main idea – that of hope. Even after devastating loss, in dire desolation and faced with lonely reality, hope survives. Hig must chance the one thing left to him – his life – to justify that emotion.

This is a magnificent novel and an uplifting read. Highly recommended.

Copyright 2017