Book Review: Run Walk Crawl: Getting Fit in my Forties by Tim Lebbon

run walk crawl

Title: Run Walk Crawl: Getting Fit in my Forties

Author: Tim Lebbon

Release date: March 10, 2021

Source: Digital ARC from the author

“Slowly, I went from hoping I could to thinking I could,” – Tim Lebbon.

I hope you’ll bear with me for this review. It’s going to be a bit introspective.

Many of you know me from my reviews. Many from my writing. And many know me from my professional career as well as my athletic endeavors. It was interesting to read this, knowing Tim has very similar parallels. There will be a large percentage of you who know him as a writer of amazing dark fiction. But also a number will know him from his passion over the last decade. And even then, some of you will know of him through is Netflix movie ‘The Silence.’

I remember when Tim threw the concept of this book out to the world on Twitter. An almost ‘if I write this, will people read it’ tweet. I was emphatic there was an audience for this, because it ticks a number of boxes that people look for in non-fiction, sports/health books.

Within the pages of this fantastic book, Tim takes us on a journey from where he was on the precipice of turning 40 years old and a fateful Holiday season that transformed his life. Finding it difficult to walk up a hill with some friends and realizing he was not at the level of fitness he was happy with, he had a conversation with a long time friend who himself had worked on his own fitness. When he mentioned to Tim that they were going to attempt a grueling event where you scale three different peaks in 24 hours, Tim decided to pursue that and fell head over heels in love with what can be described as “duration challenges.”

It was interesting for me to read this book. Here I am at 39, roughly four years post-retirement from a goal I had set of trying to make the 2018 Winter Olympics. Where Tim states he was active growing up and even competed in canoeing for a few years, he’d never been a gym goer. Joining and stopping time and again as he found it just wasn’t for him. Myself, I was the opposite. Growing up, I played Golf and Soccer and when I turned 17, began to hit the weights, falling in love with Body Building and Power Lifting. That transformed into a love of the throwing sports and at 24, I returned to Track and began competing in Shot Put. A series of injuries slowed my progress and then an opportunity came up. Bobsled. Much like with Tim going from triathlon training to full on Ironman level events, I devoted myself. In my 29th year, I set a goal of transitioning into a sliding sport. I trained seven days a week, often twice a day. I completed adjusted my diet (which I will say was 100% the hard work of my wife) and over the course of a year, I went from a 375lb shot putter, into a 245lb slider. (Hey, I said you’d get some introspection here!)

So, I’m going to hop into my normal review format from here and return the focus onto Tim’s book (with still some nuggets of my journey!)

What I liked: ‘Run Walk Crawl: Getting Fit in my Forties’ isn’t your normal ‘training’ non-fiction book. No, what Tim’s done here is to write an incredibly heart-felt, emotional book that is incredibly motivating. The book pops back and forth between what he loves about doing Tri’s/Ironman’s and Race Reports. Through this set up, we get to see one of the most talented writers out there go into great depth and detail about the hills around his house that he trains on, the delicious cakes that he partakes in and how the chase of the ‘runners high’ can motivate someone to reach for a goal and achieve it. Much like the sliding sports, Tri’s and Ironman’s are unique, in that these are individual sports done within a community setting. Where everybody wants to see you succeed and people come from all around to watch on race day and cheer you on.

The Race Reports are fantastic insights into Tim’s mindset and experiences from those days. Each one was originally written back at the time of the race and updated for the book. I loved that we get a great snap shot of different race courses and set ups, from open water swims to encounters with vehicles and animals, Tim doesn’t sugar coat anything and the book is elevated because of this.

I found time and time again, Tim peppers this book with golden moments of pure motivation.

“That’s part of the reason for writing this book – talking about what I’ve achieved because it’s fun to look back, and also in the hope that it might inspire other people to take on their own challenge, and perhaps even change their own lives.”

Tim doesn’t preach to the reader in here about health, he doesn’t try to make you believe in a specific fad diet or a weight training regimen and for that, this book sets itself from many others in the pack. This isn’t a self-help or guided training book. You’ll not find running programs, swimming splits or riding intervals. Instead, Tim pleads with the reader to find something they love and to dive in and do it with passion. Throughout my many, many years in athletics/sports, I can absolutely say that this philosophy or approach will work every time. I hate running. But, for a year I would go to the track and do 30m, 45m and 100m sprints as well as bleacher sprints. Why? Because I had a goal, I had a passion and honestly, I loved what I was attempting to do. In my case, I also absolutely loved going to the gym and clanging weights.

The last thing I’ll mention here that I loved, is that Tim fills this book to the brim with humor and does it absolutely create a truly amazing read. Many books similar to this want to jam it down your throat that only the elite will finish a race and that training is tough and the weak will fail, blah blah blah. I didn’t keep track, but I’m fairly confident in saying that at least once in each chapter, Tim mentions that no matter how tiring or difficult training or a race had become, he was doing it for fun. In that regards, Tim and I share that philosophy. It was actually something I took heat from a number of coaches over the years. Me keeping things light, cracking jokes and supporting other athletes. In fact, one of the few times I ever lost my cool was with a bobsled pilot from another country who told me to shut up and focus. A few of my sliding friends will remember that confrontation in the Ice House and chuckle over him turning tail and leaving when I got serious and raised my voice.

This book, as I said, will be an introspective journey and will be an incredible motivator no matter where you are in your own personal life and health, but one thing is for certain – no matter what you are doing – make sure you have fun and it makes you smile. Tim makes sure to tell the reader this frequently, but also sets the example with the humor within.

What I didn’t like: You know, sometimes I hate this section. I set this section up as a way to let readers know why they may not like this book and when I love a book and think it’s hit every target, I struggle. So, here’s what I think some readers may not enjoy – if they are specifically looking for training programs – there are none. If you’re looking for tough love and/or declarations of “only the strong survive!” – big miss.

Personally, and this may be different in the paperback than the digital book I had for review – I wish there were more photos. Especially from the Race Reports. Three big reasons may have prevented this – 1) formatting. That can be really tough. 2) photo credits and rights – the Race Reports are from sanctioned events, so it is very possible that the photos Tim has were taken from race day photogs and credits and rights may be tough or expensive to acquire 3) publication costs – I myself have released a book that has illustrations and paintings in it. I wanted to keep them in color. This greatly increased the cost of printing the books, so that may have been a factor.

Why you should buy this: Tim Lebbon has excelled with what he’s delivered here. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim for my professions publication a few years back, and even then the passion he expressed about training and doing these events was palpable. To read an entire book of the last decade and a bit of his life was phenomenal. This book will not be for everybody and that’s fair. But, like me, if you’re wanting some motivation to get into the best health of your life, Tim leads by example. I turn 40 in July. I have suffered so many significant injuries from my attempts to achieve my goal that I am limited with what I can do and I’ve struggled mentally to kick myself in the butt and start moving again. I personally wouldn’t change it for the world and after reading this – Tim’s already achieved what he set out to do – motivate a reader to rekindle their passion for exercise and get moving again.

A top-notch, non-fiction read that I really can’t recommend enough. I’ll be ordering this in paperback on release day!


Book Review: Mayan Blue by The Sisters of Slaughter

mayan blue

Title: Mayan Blue

Authors: Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason aka The Sisters of Slaughter

Release date: May 25th, 2016

* Nominated for HWA Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel (2016)

From the very first day that I entered into the dark fiction community, Michelle and Melissa have been cheering me on and encouraging me every step of the way. I’ve been recommended their work time and time again, but it was ‘Mayan Blue’ and ‘Tapetum Lucidum’ that really stood out for me. (I’ll be starting Tapetum shortly!)

‘Mayan Blue’ always interested me as I’ve always been intrigued by Xibalba and the Mayan lore of the Underworld. The Mayan Death Gods, specifically Ah Puch, have always got my imagination running and because of this, I wanted to see what type of carnage the Sisters of Slaughter could conjure up.

What I liked: The story begins innocently enough. Four college students and the Professor’s Assistant hike into the Georgia wilderness. They’re off to meet up with the Professor of Archaeology who has discovered a doorway in a cave, that he believes is Mayan. Little do the group of five know that the Professor has accidentally disturbed things that should never have been disturbed.

From this point on, Garza and Lason craft a story filled with survival and brutal, brutal moments. As the Gods of Death march forward and lust to capture the humans and bring them to the massive pyramid for sacrifice, the humans struggle to stay alive, even if they don’t know it’s already too late.

There are some gruesome scenes in here, scenes that rival anything Barker ever conjured. We get tons of blood, amazing progression as the various creatures get their moments in the spotlight and we see just how much each of the humans themselves, want to stay alive.

I really enjoyed how fast-paced this was and how vividly each of the underworld incarnations were described.

What I didn’t like: Two things. The first was, I felt like three of the five individuals were there just to be slaughtered. I didn’t get enough of them or their actual personalities to care much about them and the one woman was incredibly annoying. The second, was I wished there was more background on the lore surrounding what was to come. I felt like I had to play catch up as various levels and events happened and some characters filled the reader in after. Minor, but I think some parts would’ve made more sense.

Why you should buy this: Absolute, underworld blast. This was a really fun time, with a ton of Mayan history and anytime you can get a horror story based around Xibalba, the reader should be happy. The twosome crafted a really frantic, high-energy story and I loved how we saw things go darker and darker. Great stuff!


Book Review: The Winter Box by Tim Waggoner

the winter box

Title: The Winter Box

Author: Time Waggoner

Release date: Originally March 16, 2016, rereleased October 7, 2017

** Winner of the HWA Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

How shameful on my part that I didn’t even have this on my radar until Friday of last week (Feb 5). I connected with Tim some time ago and have read a few of his works (even been fortunate enough to have him blurb one of my books!) but for some reason, this release completely escaped me. It wasn’t until Tim posted a really well done blog about award season and nominations that I discovered it and dove in.

(Look before you message me with ridicule and shame – Tim’s had a wonderful career, with a number of releases that could’ve easily have won the Stoker at that time!)

This was a no-brainer for me to jump into – cold weather fiction? Yes, please!

What I liked: The story follows a married couple, Todd and Heather, trying to come to terms with how their marriage has ended up as it has and where did it take a turn towards two people who tolerate each other, when a blizzard hits. 

From here, Waggoner crafts a stunning chilled, supernatural story. One thing I always love about really well done novellas, is when we get 300+ pages of story in 50-75 pages, which is what Tim does here. We get character depth with back story aplenty and from this we really begin to formulate how we feel about each of these two, even as events begin to unfold. 

I loved when the two begin to realize that they’ve each been experiencing odd moments and that it’s interconnected. Waggoner really did a fantastic job of letting things dawn on each of them and by that point their reactions felt so true, from how well Tim had breathed life into these two characters.

The ending. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that and even though it was a really dark moment, it definitely had a glimmer like sun does on a fresh snow fall.

What I didn’t like: Irrational now, but at the beginning I wasn’t a big fan of how the characters interacted. It was their anniversary after all, but that soon gets pushed aside when details are revealed. 

Why you should buy this: ‘The Winter Box’ shows just why Waggoner is so well respected and has had such a long and storied career. This was a masterclass in dread and tension while using very minimal parts. Every aspect of this story felt bigger and more expanded than was offered, which is a testament to Tim’s ability.

I loved this one and, while it took me far too long to discover it, am thankful that I did.

Outstanding work.


Book Review: History is a Lie by Morton R. Leader

history is a lie

Title: History is a Lie

Author: Morton R. Leader

Release date: January 2, 2021

Source: Purchased from Amazon

Over the last year or so, I’ve connected with Morton on Twitter and read his first two releases. One thing I’ve loved seeing is his continued growth and improvement with each release and as he’s become a more refined writer, his ability to tackle ambitious concepts has also improved.

Case in point is ‘History is a Lie’ a novel that time jumps with most chapters to follow a central character. Leader dove into this with enthusiasm, which was evident from a few direct messages he sent me, sharing how excited he was for this book.

What I liked: ‘History is a Lie’ is tale that shares how an unknown or hidden race of creatures has been behind some of the biggest moments in Earth’s history and how the powers that be are in the know, but keep it covered up. Leader does a fine job of tackling different points throughout history and I really enjoyed seeing each section tackled.

As well, the banter between two of the characters that propels this story was really great. A mixture of sarcasm and disbelief.

The story moves along at a really great clip, which allows the reader to really become immersed in the worlds that Leader has created and the last quarter of the book finds another level, another gear where we see things come to a head. Leader really shines here, with some fantastic descriptive moments.

What I didn’t like: The biggest thing I noticed was for a story that is set in Vegas, there is a lot of ‘UK-isms’ in the dialogue and descriptions. Granted, Leader is from the UK, but there were a number of moments that pulled me from the story when I struggled to think that a US based FBI agent would use a specific word or phrase. Not sure if Leader used a North American Beta Reader on this, but if so – they should be fired haha!

Why you should buy this: As I mentioned, Leader has continued to make leaps and bounds of progress in his writing and ability to craft a story. I really enjoyed how this one rolled along and I think for fans of dark fiction, this would be a pleasant surprise. Leader does have another book out, which may be something fans of gang/crime fiction may want to dive into (personally not a genre I enjoy very much of), but I’m excited to see where Leader goes from here.

Well done, Morton!


Book Review: She Ain’t Pretty by Renee Miller

she aint pretty

Title: She Ain’t Pretty

Author: Renee Miller

Release date: February 25, 2021

Source: Netgalley ARC

Have you read Renee Miller?

Miller has written survival/winter horror (Stranded), serial killer horror (Cats Like Cream), creature feature horror (Howl and Blood Lake Monster), cult horror (Church) and so many others. Over the last year I’ve read all of those and each time, I’m blown away seeing Miller tackle a subject and absolutely obliterate it. When it was revealed that she’d have another Unnerving ‘Rewind or Die’ release I was excited. When ‘She Ain’t Pretty’ was officially revealed and the synopsis indicated we’d get a cult/demon based story I was over the moon.

What I liked: Miller wastes no time getting dirty with ‘She Ain’t Pretty.’ Blake needs a job. A listing for a farm position comes up and he gets an interview. Within minutes of arriving he’s under the spell of Lily, the owner/head of the farm. Eva is an investigative journalist. When she finds out that Lily, cult leader, has a new commune, she decides to infiltrate and get details for a book.

Miller takes a really standard ‘cult’ idea and brings us a depraved story filled with tension and gut-churning moments. I loved how we get glimpses of Blake coming in and out of the fog when Lily is around and then leaves. His mind will clear just enough that he knows what’s happening there is horrible, but by the time he gets enough energy up to leave, Lily has returned and broken him down once again.

As more and more layers are revealed, Miller makes sure to keep the reader guessing as to what is really going on and the full understanding near the end was really well done.

What I didn’t like: I wasn’t too keen on the resolution. I want to stay spoiler free, but I felt things occurred far too quickly and with a suddenness that felt a bit light on oomph. The epilogue was a great touch, but it was still a bit reduced after how the final quarter played out.

Why you should buy this: If you love cult based horror, this should be high on your list to buy and read asap. Miller is a fantastic writer and her catalog continues to grow with each new, exciting release. With her and Unnerving frequently working together, I’m always happy to see when a new release is announced. Miller has easily cemented herself as a ‘must-read’ author for me and ‘She Ain’t Pretty’ is a perfect example as to why.


Preorder here;

Book Review: Yard Full of Bones by Armand Rosamilia and Jay Wilburn

yard full of bones

Title: Yard Full of Bones

Authors: Armand Rosamilia and Jay Wilburn

Release date: May 22, 2018

Source: Purchased from Amazon Canada

If you’ve been around the Horror Community for any length of time, you’ve inevitably interacted with Armand Rosamilia. Armand is one of the nicest guys out there, always working to support and promote and has been super encouraging. It was through Unnerving that I first came across this book and I’ve long been meaning to read an Armand release. Saying that, a number of people have also been recommending to me that I check out Jay Wilburn’s work, so this was a nice trifecta of support; Unnerving, Armand and Jay, all in one shot.

What I liked: ‘Yard Full of Bones’ starts off with a stunning opening chapter. Hollywood producer/writer Mel sits on his couch in his home, only to have intruders slit his throat. From there, the mystery surrounding Mel Silver’s death and the struggles of his estranged husband Brock and assistant Gloria begin. Not only are they trying to understand just how and why Mel was murdered, but they themselves fall under suspicion of being the murderers.

It’s from this leaping off point that Wilburn and Rosamilia craft a murder mystery that also falls into folklore/creature based horror. This was really well done and the introduction of Mel’s former life in Vermont was fantastic and incredibly creepy.

The two authors write great together, with a singular writing voice propelling this story. I loved how the distinct genre’s meshed together and the characters had so much depth that I equally hated and loved each one of them, as more and more of their personal stories come out.

The ending in this was top notch and from what came before, very satisfying. With having a book start so imbedded as one thing and morph into something completely different, they handled it with expertise.

What I didn’t like: Two things really. The first was that it took a very long time to progress from Mel’s passing and his memorial/funeral to Brock and Gloria heading to Vermont. There’s a bit of a slower section during this where it felt a bit like we were spinning our wheels in some mud, but once the car popped out onto dry land, this thing took off. The second was the character of Felix. More specifically the early interactions between Felix and Brock. I struggled to understand why Felix was so aggressive with Brock considering the recent death of Mel. I can’t say too much more due to spoiler territory but during the first half I hated whenever Felix appeared.

Why you should buy this: The duo of Rosamilia and Wilburn have churned out a really fantastic read with ‘Yard Full of Bones.’ As the story moves along and more and more pieces come to light, the intrigue will grab you, but when they arrive at Vermont and they introduce this creepy small town to the reader, you’ll be hooked. This was a really well done story and one I’m so glad to have finally dove into and read. I’m definitely going to be checking out more by both authors but for new fans, I think this would be a really great diving in point.


Book Review: The Man From Beyond by Arytom Dereschuk


Title: The Man From Beyond

Author: Arytom Dereschuk

Release date: n/a

Source: Received free when I signed up to his website

Over the last number of years Arytom Dereschuk has quickly grown to become a favorite author of mine. Starting with his outstanding ‘Master of the Forest’ and followed up with his great collection ‘Russki Dread’ Arytom doesn’t hesitate to conjure dark worlds and to use his native Russia as a backdrop. While I enjoyed his novel ‘Hate the Sin’ it still showed his willingness to craft brutal stories. I’ve already purchased his newest release ‘Outside’ and will be moving that far up my TBR.

Throughout discovering his work, one thing I’ve noticed is Arytom’s distinct lack of an online presence. Well, that’s begun to change. He now boasts a really slick website (which I’ll link at the bottom) as well as a Reddit page (which I’ll also link). I’ve had some great chats with him via Goodreads, and was very excited to see this free story offered up by joining his mailing list.

What I liked: ‘The Man From Beyond’ is a quick read, I’d estimate at around 10,000 words. I think I read it in about 20-25 minutes and it was fantastic. I was hooked from paragraph one. The story is simple. Set in the 60’s in small town USA, folks go about their daily lives without a care. Until one day a strange man arrives. He doesn’t seem remarkable until the townsfolk begin to notice his eyes and start to stay away.

Dereschuk tells us this story through 1st person POV of a young man who doesn’t pay mind to the stranger, until one night when things take a turn.

This entire story dripped dread. I loved how it slowly unrolled and the entire time I was expecting this explosion of action and gore, but Artyom kept dangling that carrot ahead of me, pulling the reader along.

I absolutely loved the ending to this. It was a great way of tying it all together and coming full circle.

What I didn’t like: Actually, it’s funny, as I loved this story a ton, but the only thing that irked me was a single line of dialogue. A character says; “maybe she’s just a gold digger.” With it being set in the 60’s, I can’t imagine that was a common phrase, but when I read it, I was annoyed haha!

Why you should buy this: Well, you don’t actually need to buy this – sign up for his site! It’s free when you do! But for why you should read this? Dereschuk has crafted a fantastic sci-fi/slow burn horror story here, one that pulls equally from The Twilight Zone as it does from The X-Files. The cover is spot on and if you like dread inducing fast reads, you can’t go wrong here. This is a perfect story to introduce you to Artyom’s work, and once done, seriously, go snag the rest of his releases.


You can sign up and get the story for free here;


Arytom’s Reddit link is here;