Blog Tour: Undead Ultra by Camille Picott (Review/Giveaway)

Undead Ultra
By: Camille Picott

thumbnail_Undead Ultra Cover

Publication Date: April 7, 2016
Genre: Science-Fiction/Post-Apocalypse/Zombies

We’re celebrating Zombie Awareness Monthwith a mini tour of Undead Ultra by Camille Picott! Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt, and a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Synopsis

It’s life or death…

…and two hundred miles to run.

Can she survive the zombies and save her son?

When the virus hits, nobody is prepared. Society collapses and Kate’s son doesn’t have a way out of his dorm. She has to go get him, but the roads aren’t safe, and the government has blockades.

Everything is at a standstill.

It will be the race of her life.

Kate loves running. She’s gone from marathons to ultramarathons and knows what it takes to run a hundred miles at a time, but this is different.

This is twice as far as she’s ever run…

…and finding food is a problem.

Is it even possible?

You’ll love this unique take on the apocalypse because the struggle is unlike anything you’ve read before.

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Review

 Zombie apocalypse stories are a bit overused in the current landscape whether its books (or movies). However, Undead Ultra takes on a different take from the fast-paced style to taking the characters on an ultramarathon of over 200 miles for these two running best friends to rescue their kids from their different locations as they realize that cars attract too much attention and are dangerous to use in the current zombie apocalypse world that has overrun the country. Packed with a lot of unknowns and their expertise in running and the limited supplies, they go on this insane run that tests them both mentally and physically to not only survive the length of the run and weather but also their biggest unknown factors, zombies.

There’s a lot to love about Undead Ultra. The execution of the whole story is done incredibly well. It balances the zombie threat in a myriad of different encounters as well as the limited amount of people they meet on this run, some good and some bad as well as sharing their own darker stories with each other that they may not have shared previously. At the same time, they strategize on supplies and the different phases that they go through during this ultramarathon, probably something that not a whole lot of people are incredibly familiar with in the first place. The zombie element brings in the bad ass character elements and builds the two characters as they harden to having to fight them. The story element gives both characters a lot of insight on their past and builds them up so that the readers can know them more and connect with them. The last element of ultramarathon is simply a survival element. Its both strategy as well as survival and sheds some light on the whole concept of ultramarathon and how tough it is and the mental exercise it really is. All of these balance well together to put together this thrilling run.

Undead Ultra features primarily the two characters, Kate and Frederico. Kate wants to go find her son Carter at his unversity where she has news and communication that he is still managing to stay alive but danger is moving closer and closer. She is the main voice of the story. However, her running companion and best friend Frederico is something of a rock and has his own hardships which include some alcohol abuse and trying to find his daughter on the way as well. These two characters have a lot of depth to them as the story unfolds further with each of their conversations and especially Kate’s memories of the past as well as Frederico’s recounts of his past. As they go through their ordeals, their characters build with the knowledge of their past as well as their present actions and decisions.

There’s a lot to love about Undead Ultra. Its a fun read and a page-turner. Its incredibly well-executed and has well-developed characters as well. While the zombie apocalypse landscape might seem familiar and there isn’t a lot to change about it, somehow the execution of sending the characters on foot for an ultramarathon-esque rescue mission is one that sounds crazy but makes all the difference in making this story stand out.

Goodreads Score: 5/5

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About the Author

Camille Picott

Camille Picott has been writing Stories from the End of the World since she figured out how to turn on her family’s Apple IIe computer and wrangle a floppy disk into the drive. She loves nothing more than penning an epic action scene or pushing a character to his limits.

When Camille isn’t writing or spending time with her family, she loves to run absurdly long distances. It’s not unusual to find her hitting the trail in her running shoes long before the sun rises or cranking out miles (and stories!) on her treadmill desk. She considers sleep optional and largely overrated.

Visit Camille at www.camillepicott.com to sign up for her newsletter.

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Blog Tour Schedule

May 11th

Backshelf Books (Review) https://backshelfbooks.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

May 12th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/

May 13th

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

May 14th

Cup of Books Blog (Review) https://cupofbooksblog.wordpress.com/
J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

May 15th

Gemma’s Book Reviews (Review) http://www.gemmmasbookreviews.wordpress.com Read and Reviewed (Review) http://readandreviews.blogspot.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

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Blog Tour: Forever People by Alison Lyke [Review/Giveaway]

Forever People

FOREVER PEOPLE
BY: ALISON LYKE

FOREVER PEOPLE

Publication Date: March 28, 2019
Genre: Sci-fi/Cyberpunk
Publisher: Black Rose Writing

SYNOPSIS

Welcome to Zeta City, where the whole world goes to die. Here, the Node System uploads the minds of the dying so they can spend eternity in a digital Promised Land. But, this cyber heaven is causing hell on earth for the living because the System forces them to earn Points to buy data in the afterlife.

Camille is a salty mercenary out to hoard as many Points as possible by exploiting the dying with illegal technology. She’s on the hunt for Toy, a rebel leader who uploaded lethal technology to her own brain in an attempt to wipe out everyone’s Node Points.

Camille goes to increasingly dangerous lengths in pursuit of Toy. She soon finds that the Node is full of warm reunions with loved ones and otherworldly creations. It’s also full of lies.

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REVIEW

Forever People is a futuristic sci-fi cyberpunk adventure where the world lives to accumulate Node Points which helps them get better treatment when they enter the Node after they die. As per the stories from the Founders which created this system. However, when Camille, a bounty hunter with a special gadget  called the Confiner gets hired to catch a rebel before she commits suicide ends up losing out on that mission, things go sideways and a lot of secrets get discovered as a result. There’s a lot of good here. The world building and the futuristic elements from the gadgets to the universe here has a lot of thought put in and a lot of imaginative elements as well. The structure of the story gives Forever People a nice angle as it focuses on various characters and their encounters. Its a bit like how Game of Thrones books is structured (at least the first one since I only read that one) and I might have similar criticisms in the sense that some characters come by very late in the game and then there is an imbalance especially when a lot of these timelines do crossover, which shows a nice storyboard and planning elements in the writing overall but there are some characters that are used very minimal and might not exactly deserve their own narrative chapter. Although, there is a purpose in the whole scheme of things so that isn’t a huge criticism at all.

Since we’re talking about characters, that is a standout element here (aside from the world building). The main character that starts here is Camille and she is tough cracker and in the description, its apparent that she is not your typical femme fatale that Hollywood creates however has her exceptional competence and qualities. At the same time, the other characters here whether its her tech friend Remington or the rebel leader Toy or her liaison Cody and other characters, they manage to tie them together very well and give them proper crossover when necessary, especially with some characters that seem small at the beginning and end up having some part in the whole spectrum of things. The story here is quite standalone but if there was some way to have Camille be in some other story setting, it would be nice to see this character having further adventures.

Overall, Forever People started off a little slow in the setup but turns itself around and remains well-paced throughout. The world building and character, especially its main character Camille being its standout as well as using a good structure to form its point of views and narratives. While there’s this feeling that the world here feels very familiar, I can’t quite pinpoint where its from. However, there is a lot of twists and turns here plus a lot of adventure. Its always nice to see how different people envision a different version of the future and the afterlife.

Goodreads score: 4 out of 5

Purchase Here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alison Lyke

I’m an author and an English and Communications professor from Rochester, NY. I’m an insatiable reader and a dedicated writer. I’ve spent many years honing my skills and I now enjoy helping others find and explore their own voices. I write fantasy and science fiction and I aim to captivate and inspire. I’ve written two published novels: a modern mythology titled Honey, which came out in 2013 and Forever People, a cyberpunk science fiction slated to come out in the spring of 2019. I also regularly contribute poetry and short stories to literary magazines.

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Details: A Copy of Digital Copy

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April 22nd

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) https://readsandreels.com/
Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com
Yearwood La Novella (Excerpt) http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com
Stacy is Reading (Review) https://stacyisreading.blogspot.com/?m=0
The Caffeinated Reader (Review) https://www.thecaffeinatedreader.com

April 23rd

Audio Killed the Bookmark (Excerpt) http://audiokilledthebookmark.wordpress.com
Susy’s Cozy World (Review) https://susyscozyworld.wordpress.com/
The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

April 24th

Ity Reads Books (Excerpt) http://www.ityreadsbooks.home.blog
J Bronder Reviews (Excerpt) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Excerpt) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Speedy Reader (Review) https://speedyreadercom.wordpress.com

April 25th

Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com
B is For Book Review (Excerpt) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/

April 26th

Llissa’s Book Reviews (Excerpt) http://llissasbookviews.wordpress.com
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com
Sawdust & Spoons (Review) http://sawdustandspoons.com/

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Halloween 2018: Annihilation (2018)

Continuing on with the Halloween movie watching, we’re back to something a little more current with a 2018 film. While a lot of people got this on Netflix, Canada got the theatrical release and therefore only just got it available on Netflix now. I remember watching the trailer for this and being incredibly interested in it. It felt like it would be a horror thriller with science fiction and such. Honestly, at this point, I don’t remember much from the trailer except the general storyline.

Annihilation (2018)

annihilation

Director: Alex Garland

Cast: Natalie Portman, Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don’t apply. – IMDB

As usual, I’m going to be clear that I’ve never read the source material so this write-up is based completely on the film itself.

Annihilation comes as a midway point  for myself. I had some high expectations for it when I first saw it announced but somehow that feeling has gone away a little. As for whether it met my expectations, I’d have to say that it did in one way and then it didn’t quite reach what I had expected it to be completely. A part of me also thinks that this isn’t quite horror. Its more of a scifi/fantasy thriller with horror elements. With that said, Annihilation is visually very pretty. The creativity behind the world that the five scientists go into definitely was an eye-opening experience just to see the ideas behind it and how it was executed. The execution itself is a recount of events from Natalie Portman’s character and with that centers her as being the main character which makes it out by all means but then it jumps from mostly in the past rundown of events but jumping back to the present as she is being questioned.

Annihilation

The creatures in this world and the flora and the colorfulness that covers all over the world has this sinister yet mesmerizing sort of effect. The world creation actually is the plus in Annihilation. Its the mystery that surrounds it which makes it so intriguing to keep watching just to see what more there is around the corner. There is this creeping feeling of something bad always going to happen because of the little that we know especially with the history of no one making it back from this area. At the same time, there is a lot of genuinely dangerous moments that happen at fairly unexpected moments. There are some that pack in quite a lot of atmosphere building tension.

Annihilation

As for the cast itself, I haven’t seen Natalie Portman in too many movies so I’m not sure that I’m exactly impressed with her performance. To be honest, everyone does a well enough job but nothing really does standout because it becomes fairly obvious that the scientists here are only half developed especially with anyone outside of Natalie Portman. Everyone seems to have some past that gives them some form of weakness but its never given enough attention to make them memorable. Some of them seem to fall a tad flat. For anyone back in the facility with Benedict Wong who only plays as a tough interrogator while Oscar Isaac is a survivor that pretty much that falls into a coma after the events and is the main reason behind the mystery and why Natalie Portman’s character goes into this area. His parts are best described as powerful because of what the scene delivers but its Oscar Isaac and he always has some presence but he’s more of a supporting leaning into cameo part. However, there are some familiar faces like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tessa Thompson.

Overall, Annihilation is visually very impressive and the story and execution uses ambiguity to create mystery and suspense and that works especially with the beautiful world they have created. However, there’s something lacking about it that makes it hard to really be completely memorable and that probably gets down to lack of character development. There has this effect of giving the story something to think about at the end but then, I’m not sure it actually lingered that long in my mind.

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

And the first of my list of anticipated movies for 2018 was released as a surprise Netflix launch after the Super Bowl. To see what other movies made my 2018 anticipated list, check it out here. We did watch The Cloverfield Paradox that night and it definitely reflects on the backlog that it took this long to share my thoughts on it now. Lets check out the third movie in this Cloverfield universe.

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

cloverfield paradox

Director: Julius Onah

Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki, Roger Davies, Donal Logue

Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality. – IMDB

The Cloverfield “franchise” (since there is only two other movies) has taken its viewers for quite a ride. To be honest, they benefited the most from a very strategic surprise and mystery sort of promotional campaign which keeps its audience guessing and the intrigue and anticipation is what drives most of it. I’m a fan of both Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Both had its issues but were entertaining and effective for what it tried to do. Of course, to link the two universes together was where it does fall apart a little. In this third installment of Cloverfield, The Cloverfield Paradox takes us to space with a bunch of astronauts who are trying to achieve a risky experiment that will essentially save Earth’s energy crisis. Just looking at the summary above, it already highlights some of the generic elements that you can expect in The Cloverfield Paradox. During the movie, elements of Event Horizon and Evil Dead will definitely be comparable here. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily as long as its executed well and for the most part, The Cloverfield Paradox is action-packed and suspenseful with hints of humor here and there and visually, its pretty lovely to watch. Is it a ground-breaking or memorable movie experience and lives up to the hype? No, it really isn’t. I watched it about a month ago and honestly, its starting to fade away. It did however make me want to revisit Event Horizon, a movie that has a criticism but I personally love a lot.

the cloverfield paradox

While the story and direction worked okay, despite its familiar territory, the cast here also portrays some very generic qualities of a space crew. There are a lot of familiar faces and to be fair, they all did a great job in their roles, even Ziyi Zhang (who I’m not a huge fan of). Chris O’Dowd provided the humor the story needed along with some of his banter with other characters. There was suspense and mystery surrounding some of them as well which kept it intriguing. There was drama particularly in the main character, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who delivered a nice performance. However, the problem was that the short run time and the pacing of the story gave these characters a lack of depth. We never had enough time with any one of them to make it feel remotely connected to sense a loss when they were in peril. The story itself kept it action-packed and constantly propelling it forward with accidents, deaths, dangerous situations, mystery, suspense and it was all over the place keeping the audience on its toes but somehow where it fell flat was the characters. I did like the international aspect of the characters because it had constant foreign language and some subtitle reading which kept it authentic.

cloverfield paradox

At this point, we have to look at The Cloverfield Paradox and how it fits into the franchise. If we talk about self-contained, well, this franchise is definitely self-contained since the connection sometimes seems like a rather far-fetched idea. It felt the same way with 10 Cloverfield Lane where the final part that somehow supposedly links back to its first movie was where I found it at its weakest. The same applies here, in fact, The Cloverfield Paradox is definitely the weakest link so far. It lacks an original story and lacks powerful characters. In terms of depth and connection, it actually just adds more questions to the whole Cloverfield world. At this point, the Cloverfield franchise is really just an anthology series with movies set in the same universe. Its not necessarily a problem but something more about this universe would be nice. I mean what is this universe afterall? When are these films set? We can assume that Cloverfield is the first film where we see these creatures or aliens invading the world. The world’s fallen apart in 10 Cloverfield Lane and definitely in The Cloverfield Paradox. What is the timeline though? You know, its nice to tease and play the guessing game and they have a strong promotional campaign team but at a certain point, it stops being fun and starts being just frustrating to follow, especially when if The Cloverfield Paradox is the commencement of the downward spiral in its quality.

cloverfield paradox

There are obvious entertaining elements of watching The Cloverfield Paradox. I didn’t hate it but thinking about it more, it felt quite shallow. They had a good cast that delivered good performances, a generic story that was visually done really well but still was very predictable and it had a mix of genre elements of riding between being serious and funny. However, The Cloverfield Paradox could have been any old sci-fi movie if it didn’t have the Earth segments. There are entertaining and tense, suspense-filled elements that work in the thriller world. Its decent for a one shot watch but honestly, it was a disappointment from the expectations after the first two films. I sure hope that if the Cloverfield world continues, it will take some time to try to find a more apparent link in the universe and add a little more substance.