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Reading Rush Book Challenge


The Reading Rush has begun!

Yesterday marked the first day of a week long Reading Rush book challenge.

If you don’t know what Reading Rush is, it’s a reading challenge that dedicates an entire week of reading to book loving participants based on daily themes and includes contests and prizes for various activities that take place throughout the week. It was formerly known as Book-Tube-A-Thon.

My pick for the entire week (I think it will meet all of the challenges) is:

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I’m doing it a little different this year because, I feel like painting at the moment, and when you feel like you’re in the mood to paint, you have to paint. Before the inspiration and desire goes away. In fact I’m in the middle of painting a pirate ship at the moment, so I’m mostly listening to audiobooks this year.

I’m also participating in the Summer Listening Challenge as well. I really want to win a year of free audiobooks!

If you are interested in participating in any of these challenges this year check them out here:

Reading Rush Summer Listening Challenge

Here is my list of books that I have read over the past year that maybe you may be interested in:

Book List

Let me know if you are participating in any of the challenges and what books you are currently reading and plan to read in the comments below, I’d love to know!

Also be sure to mention your book recommendations!

Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Mystery Thriller

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin


Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It’s hard work, and totally solitary—perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he’s so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.

More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice’s obsession with catching the poachers escalates, leading to hostile altercations with the locals and attention from both the law and Rice’s employers. Partnering with his predecessor, a scientist who hopes to continue her research on the preserve, Rice puts into motion a plan that could expose the poachers but risks revealing his own whereabouts to the dangerous people he was running from in the first place.

James McLaughlin expertly brings the beauty and danger of Appalachia to life. The result is an elemental, slow burn of a novel—one that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

BearskinBearskin by James A. McLaughlin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this one! I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a read that takes place in a woodsy setting, who appreciates the outdoors and is looking for a creatively layered mystery thriller.

I started it out on digital and ultimately changed to the audiobook version, which I’d highly recommend as it made it even more thrilling.

I really liked the way the author set up the scenes. It was gripping and suspenseful and there were inter sprinklings of humor which I much appreciated. The characters were compelling in the sense that their thoughts and subsequent actions made me want to “see what happens next” with each line. I liked the plausible approach to everything that was happening from the mindset of those participating in the drug and bear cartels to the way to the interactions and dialogue between characters.

I did feel that the author could have made the writing style a bit more colorful to make the storyline match the risks that were being presented. The descriptions for example: the green grass, whitened teeth, a strong grip, overcast sky, the hot sun… the hot sun… and repeated again, the hot sun… The story structure as a result could have been just a bit more fascinating to read.

I guess I wanted a bit more picturesque, creatively written, take a risk prose. I will say that there were wonderfully written parts that were engaging to my soul. I wanted just a little more of what drew me to the book in the first place. But I definitely enjoyed the story as a whole and it’s definitely not boring. There were just a few opportunities within the writing itself that I think could have really added depth and vividness to the story.

I will look forward to reading more books by this author.

Winter in the Pines © 2019 | All rights reserved.

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Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin © 2019 | All rights reserved.

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Audiobook version at

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2018 BookTube-A-Thon


Today marks the day kicking off the 2018 BookTube-A-Thon!

BookTube-A-Thon is a week-long read-a-thon hosted by Ariel Bissett and takes place from July 30th – August 5th. It’s an event that celebrates reading by creating bookish content and reading a lot of books. There are seven main challenges and various mini-challenges that YouTubers and BookTubers alike have created on their social media platforms. Anyone can join. This is my first year participating. I don’t know how far I’ll get with each one, but I think it will be fun nonetheless.

Here are the main challenges and my reads for the week:

1. Let a coin toss decide your first read. Heads was Old Man’s War by John Scalzi and tails, Earth by David Brin. Heads won and I’ll be listening via audiobook which is narrated by William Dufris.

2. Read a book about something you want to do. I am learning French, so I’ll be listening to French Short Stories for Beginners, authored and narrated by Frederic Bibard and Mariem Nouni.

3. Read and watch a book-to-film adaptation. I love maritime reads. My pick is Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.

4. Read a book with green on the cover. Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer. The cover is so very cute.

5. Read a book while wearing the same hat the whole time. I’ll be wearing one of my favorite black caps by A. Kurtz. Maybe you’ll recognize it, here’s a hint: Bailando. And because the challenge says to read seven books, I’ll be reading One What Grounds by Cleo Coyle.

6. Read a book with a beautiful spine. I feel like reading a classic or a reread from my childhood so I’m going to continue with my reread of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes which is one of my absolute favorite books of all-time. It has that classic literary spine. It’s on the 100 list of America’s 100 most-loved books from The Great American Read that PBS has put together. I have to admit, it’s taking me forever and a day to finish because I’m reading as much as I can in Spanish and following along with one of the Open Yale Courses. The course I’m taking is SPAN 300 and it has been excellent so far. It’s taught by professor Roberto González Echevarría. You’ll have to check it out along with the other courses they offer, for free.

7. Read seven books. I’ll be reading Earth by David Brin from the coin toss.

Have you participated in the past and are you planning on joining this year’s read-a-thon? What books have you chosen? If you have any children’s or beginning French language books you’d recommend, let me know! P.S. the voting for your favorite read from America’s 100 most-loved books is still open as well. I hope you can join along with me!

Did I mention how much I love book photography?