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

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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

[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.

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