Blog Tour: Run, Walk, Crawl by Tim Lebbon

At forty-one I was overweight and unfit. As I turned 50 I was thirty pounds lighter, having spent my fifth decade training for, and racing multiple Ironmans, marathons, and other crazy adventures. This account of that fitness journey through my forties includes broken bones, severe chafing, regular cursing, rubber and lycra, an element of masochism … and cake.

From New York Times-bestselling writer Tim Lebbon comes his first non-fiction book, charting his fitness journey through his forties––funny, hopefully inspiring, brutally honest, this is a book for anyone trying to get and stay fit, at whatever age!

What I Thought:

Over the past few years, despite spending my life being very lazy and eating far too much, I’ve begun to enjoy inspiring myself towards fitness by reading about people who, starting from a similar position, have been able to get themselves training and fit.

Run, Walk, Crawl is such a book and I have to say I found it incredibly inspiring to read about Tim Lebbon’s journey – although I hate to sound like the X-Factor!

I can completely empathise with waking up one day and suddenly thinking that if you don’t turn it around now, you might never do it and, whether that’s inspired partly by being a parent, or just by a fear of approaching the future not fighting fit, I get the feeling that it must come to all of us. Whether we then choose to do something about it, that’s another thing entirely.

This book is really accessible and simply tells you what Tim did to get himself fit and at a level to start competing in hard-core competitions. It never becomes preachy, or seems like a boast, although he does freely admit that the story of his fitness journey could come off as a humble-brag!

There’s some really valuable advice there too – your goal for your own fitness might be completing a leisurly 5k Park Run or, like Tim, you might decide to go for the Three Peaks challenge – the important part is for you to HAVE the goal in the first place. I found I was much more successful at completing C25K when I had a 5k run booked in, than when I was just doing it for the hell of it.

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of reading these kind of fitness memoirs as, although I might think some of the challenges are a bit bonkers, I’m filled with admiration for anyone who can set themselves a fitness goal and achieve it – especially while freely admitting to being a cake fiend!

About the Author:

I’m a New York Times-bestselling horror, thriller and fantasy writer from a little village in South Wales. I’ve written over 45 novels, including several in collaboration with Christopher Golden, as well as dozens of novellas and hundreds of short stories. I’ve written tie in novels in the Alien, Predator, Helllboy, Star Wars, and Firefly universes. Maybe a mash-up of all those properties would be fun!

My novel The Silence was made into a Netflix movie starring Kiernan Shipka and Stanley Tucci. I even got to be in the movie, starring as a bloodied corpse!

My novella Pay The Ghost was a 2015 movie starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Uli Edel.

My latest novel EDEN is an eco-horror thriller. Josh Malerman calls it ‘Instantly cinematic’. Sarah Pinborough calls it ‘Smart, prescient and gripping.’

I have several other projects currently in development for TV and the big screen, including original screenplays and a TV series with a US broadcaster.

I’ve won four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award and a Scribe, as well as being shortlisted for the prestigious World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Awards. I love running, biking and swimming, and often try to put them all together in long-distance triathlons. I raced my first Ironman in 2013. At the time it was definitely, without a doubt, absolutely the only ironman I’d ever do. Ironman Canada on my 50th birthday in 2019 was my 5th…

To find out more about Tim Lebbon and his work, you can check out his website. Alternatively, why not connect with him on Twitter?

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of Run, Walk, Crawl. For more reviews and exclusive content, check out the other participating blogs below:

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Book Review: What About The Girl? by K. T. Cavan

Berne, 1962. When Clemency is asked to help Peter Aspinal pick up some film from one of his agents, she jumps at the chance. It’s a welcome change from her routine desk job at the British Embassy. Peter himself is the kind of charming, cultured and slightly dangerous man a girl could fall for. But then the romance turns to terror as the KGB move in. Cut off from help in the Alps, Clemency finds she has hidden skills and courage. But will it be enough to save her and Peter from elimination by their ruthless opponents?

What I Thought:

I started the year by reading about 1960s espionage (in Red Corona) – and I’ve revisited that era with What About the Girl? by K. T. Cavan.

This book has a little bit more mystery about it, as K. T. Cavan is a pseudonym for an alleged member of the intelligence community, so you would hope that some of the ‘spycraft’ would be authentically described – it certainly had plenty of detail in that area.

As a book, it is indeed thrilling and mysterious, and it’s great to see a female agent pushed to the fore. The story itself deals with the Soviets (of course!), but via Romania which I am happy to confess is a country that I know little about – particularly in terms of its relationships whilst under communist rule. The most striking thing about the story was the refusal to paint the British as wholly ‘the goodies’, and an acknowledgement that espionage is a dirty business with casualties on both sides. There is a particularly good scene when Clemency realises that the man is worth less than the mission to those in command – she then has to decide for herself whether this is what she wants to be a part of.

Despite, on the whole, enjoying the book tremendously my slight quibble with it was that, even while featuring a strong female lead, there was still too much bottom pinching, and reference to her as a silly girl for my liking. I’m not sure yet whether that was the pastiche of 1960s spy fiction, but I have the second book in the series to read and help me decide.

I have to mention the cover design here too – I just loved the illustration by Jacqueline Bissett which was fully in keeping with those spy novels of old…

What About the Girl? is published by Asp.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: Body on the Rocks by Rachel Green

Mourning the death of her police inspector husband, Margot Renard moves to a small seaside town in the south of France. But when the body of a small boy washes up on a beach, Margot is drawn into a dangerous world of drug smugglers and people trafficking, and forced to cross paths with two feuding gangsters.

What I Thought:

Body on the Rocks by Rachel Green has an incredibly topical hook, with the body of a supposed immigrant found on a beach in the South of France, and what follows is an excellent mystery novel which puts Margot Renard at the heart of a criminal conspiracy.

I very much enjoyed this book, which puts a slightly older woman who had been hoping to retire with her husband to the South of France in the unenviable position of having her future shattered when her police inspector husband is killed in the line of duty.

Mouldering away and with no idea of what she should be doing, the body on the rocks grabs Margot’s attention and, with the help of a Spanish yachtsman, she investigates. But what will happen to Margot once she pokes her nose in a bit too far?

The mystery and criminal conspiracy were well-written, with a suitably vicious villain, but plenty of grey areas too. It was great to see Margot begin the novel in a slump, but slowly come back to life as she attacked the mystery with righteous fury, and I think (hope) that this book is the start of a solid and compelling series.

To find out more about Margot Renard and Rachel Green, you can check out Rachel’s website – and if you join her newsletter, you will be sent a free short story featuring Margot Renard. I grabbed it over the weekend, so look forward to reading it soon. You can also connect with her on Twitter.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of Body on the Rocks. For more reviews and exclusive content, why not chek out some of the other participating blogs below?

Please note: I was sent this book for review. All opinoons are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

An attractive student. An older professor. Think you know the story? Think again.

She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.

Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good…

What I Thought:

The dreaming spires of Oxford are once again touched by crime in The Whole Truth, the fifth book in the Adam Fawley series from Cara Hunter.

Fawley and the team at St. Aldate’s Police Station are thrust into the the middle of a high-profile investigation where perpetrator and victim both have a lot to lose – but as they investigate, Fawley is forced to confront his own past in the most dramatic way.

This book is another stellar installment in the Adam Fawley series – Cara Hunter uses traditional storytelling in combination with text messages, podcast transcripts and Twitter comments to pull together an intricate and gripping story which is, I think, the best one yet in the series.

Although this book is part of a series, I appreciated the character recap at the front of the book which will allow anyone to drop in to this book and get going straight away. Having said that, though, if you have read the other books in the series, you’ll find the pay off in this one immensely rewarding!

The main cast of characters has grown since the first novel, but they are really well-balanced as a team, and there is something to admire even in those whose behaviour has let them down in the past…there’s hope for them to redeem theselves at least.

In a market that is jam-packed with crime novels, the Fawley series is a real standout, and I can’t wait to see what Cara Hunter has in store for Fawley and his team next!

The Whole Truth is published by Penguin Books.

To find out more about Cara Hunter and the Adam Fawley series, you can connect with her on Twitter.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the release of The Whole Truth. For more reviews and exclusive content, you can check out the other participating blogs below:

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: The Settlement by Ruth Kirby-Smith, Guest Post

Today I’m delighted to welcome Ruth Kirby-Smith to the blog. She is the author of The Settlement, a powerful historical novel of Northern Ireland, based on real events within her family. Ruth tells us all about the origins of her novel below…

About the Book

It’s 1984 and Olivia is returning home for her grandmother Sarah’s funeral. Sarah was a loving matriarch in small Irish village Lindara, so why would someone spit at her coffin? When Olivia finds Sarah’s red leather notebook, she unearths the se- cret her grandmother took to her grave…

In 1910 Sarah promises her anti-home rule husband Theo that she’ll keep her free thinking, suffragette views to herself. But one night Sarah finds she’s drawn into something which com- promises her principles. Later, when Theo gets dementia, he pesters Sarah about something called ‘The Settlement’. She’s mystified, but on opening a letter all is revealed. As the truth unfolds, we watch as Sarah is faced with an impossible decision – will she protect her stepson or her unborn child?

The Origins of The Settlement

It is ironic that I ended up writing a historical novel as history was my least favourite school subject.  As an insouciant fourteen-year-old I was cheeky to the toughest history master at Methodist College Belfast, and he gave me such a roasting that it was still remembered at our 50-year reunion in 2017. I never turned a hair, as the Irish saying goes, meaning it did not bother me, but I had enough sense to drop the subject.

I had wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember but university, travel, career and children got in the way.  When my father died, I began to question his unusual childhood and the stories he has told us of being fostered at three days old, going home to his real parents aged ten to get an education, being ‘kidnapped’ by his foster sisters who drove 50 miles across country to secretly take him back and then having no further contact with his biological parents until he was 19.  This presented an interesting family history but when I investigated what was happening in Ireland during those years, I found a fascinating story which I knew nothing about.  The two things together gave me the basis for my book.

The main characters in the book, Sarah and John, are based on my grandparents although the story is totally fictional.  My grandfather was a lot like John – go-getting, shrewd and successful but his fortune was made with hard work in a legitimate business.  He lived until I was in my 20’s and I remember him as a kind, well-informed and interesting man. 

My grandmother was quite different from the character in the book.  I did not know her well as she died when I was nine, but I do remember a rather cold and reserved character who showed me little affection.  We children did not enjoy the monthly Sunday visits to see her because we had to sit quietly on her prickly horsehair dining chairs to have afternoon tea and I remember stuffing my dresses under my legs to protect them.  My cousin George tells the story of his mother taking him as a young baby from Belfast to Co Armagh to show grandmother her new grandson.  She was turned away at the door as she had no appointment, and my grandmother was ‘not receiving’.  Odd indeed, and I suspect she had some mental health problems.

This gave me carte blanche for the character of Sarah in the book.  The social setting is Protestant anti-home rule Northern Ireland, and I needed my main character to challenge this position and present another point of view.  And so, the independent free thinking feisty Sarah came into being and she was a joy to write. In retrospect there is a lot of myself in the main character – questioning, prepared to go against the grain, outspoken and rebellious at times.  As a teenager in the 1960’s I was the first person to attend the Sunday morning church service without a hat and it caused quite a ruction.  Our minister, Reverend Lavery, listened to the complaints from members of the congregation and then said that it was better that I come to church without a hat than not come at all.  I loved him for that, and he finds a place in the book as the local minister in Lindara taking the news of war casualties to his flock. 

I also used names of friends and family.  Lizzie, Sarah’s cousin is the name of two of my oldest friends, Violet was a kind a funny aunt, Miss Henderson my favourite teacher in primary school and Miss Blakeley is a tribute to David Blakeley who taught me social studies in 6th form at Methodist College and finally awoke in me an interest in studying. 

The colonel is based on my aunt’s old gardener and there are many stories of his comic character.  The one included in the book where he is rude to the church ladies having tea is true except that it was a local titled Lady who was his target.

The book is truly a mixture of fact and fiction and the grain of my family runs all the way through it.

Many thanks to Ruth for telling us a bit about the origins of The Settlement. The blog tour continues with the blogs below, and I’ll be reviewing the book next week.

The Settlement is published by 2QT.

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