Posted in blogging

No, I’m not dead…

Hello everyone!

I know, I disappeared after my steroid injection post, but they didn’t kill me or anything! (I’m actually going to get the second one today. Yikes!)

I am sorry for the radio silence over the last few weeks, we’ve just had a lot going on! Some was just personal stuff, but on top of that we started getting the house ready for a sibling group we thought we were going to get from foster care, but that fell through, and now we have a completely different placement…

So a lot of transitioning going on in my home! Which means a lot of randomness and sporadic posting here.

I do hope to at least get caught up on reviews and my other planned posts over the next couple weeks and then hopefully get back to normal and fully open up to review requests again soon!

In the meantime, I just wanted to pop in quickly to say hi! I’ve missed all my blogging world peeps! Hope all is well with you!!

Posted in blogging

2019 Blogging Goals

Another Year Has Come and Gone…

Well, It’s officially 2019 and I’m both excited and a little sad to say goodbye to 2018.

The last part of the year was especially hard. To name a few of the most difficult…

1) We said goodbye to our foster kids, which just about killed me. 2) The pain in my neck spread to my arm, back and even caused problems with my head and vision. (I just realized I never actually posted about that.) And 3) My youngest went to live with her dad so I only see her on the weekends.

Some really great things happened during that time too, though…

1) I was able to interview my dad for StoryCorp. 2) I changed the name of the website and went self-hosted! and 3) I was blown away by the love my post received as the blog of the day via The Write Reads (go check them out!)

And with both the good and the bad of the entire past year now gone, it’s time to look forward to a new year and all it will bring with it!

Goodbye Jess Combs, Hello Combing Through the Pages!

So when I started blogging three years ago, it was a short-lived experience that revolved around me. It made sense for my blog to just be my name.

But I’m boring!

I quickly got tired of talking about myself and the Jess Combs blog died a quiet death.

One of the most exciting things about 2018 was combining the fun of blogging with my passion for reading and bookishness. Enter the name change and the birth of “Combing Through the Pages.”

Now that I have a new bookish name and it’s a new year, it’s time to start making some goals for 2019!

Blogging Goals for 2019

There’s a lot I want to do with Combing Through the Pages in 2019! Some of my goals are far-fetched dreaming, some are just practical things I should have been doing all along, and others are exciting ways to connect with other book lovers and bloggers.

Without further ado, I give you my goals list for 2019:

1. Catch Up on Review Posts!

My top priority for 2019 is to catch up on all the books I planned to have reviewed before the end of 2018. It’s no excuse, but with everything that happened from October-December, I got behind. There are some great books I’ve read that haven’t been written about yet, and a couple I didn’t get finished in 2018.

So my first goal is pretty simple… get caught up!

2. Finish Becoming “Combing Through the Pages”

So simply changing the site name from “Jess Combs” to “Combing Through the Pages” was pretty easy. But as I quickly learned, it takes a lot more than that to actually make the change!

A new logo, new about page, new headers, new social media banners, etc… There’s a lot that still has to be done to finish “re-branding.”

In a way, this one probably could go under catching up, but it’s a whole other beast to tackle and so it’s number 2 on my list!

Among the major things #2 requires, is settling on my logo. What do you guys think of the one I’m using currently? Do you have suggestions? I would absolutely LOVE any and all feedback on the site! I’m still learning so please leave your ideas, thoughts and opinions in the comments or send me a message through the Contact Me page!

3. Hit 1,000 WordPress and E-mail Subscribers

This is one of those far-fetched, if all my dreams came true goals.

I’m currently at 343 WordPress/E-mail followers. So I’d need 657 new people to subscribe to Combing Through the Pages before the end of the year. If I average 2 new followers a day, I’ll hit it, so even though it’s a “daydreaming” goal, I think it’s possible.

4. Spend 2+ Hours Every Week Supporting My Followers Blogs

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I want to be intentional in 2019 about supporting those who support me.

So my goal is to take at least 2 hours every week and just visit, comment and use affiliate links on my followers blogs. Those are all things I appreciate others doing for me, so I want to be sure to do the same for them!

5. Show More Love to Other Book Bloggers 

The book blogging community, as a whole, is amazingly supportive!

When I started reviewing book, I was lucky enough to stumble across two incredible ways to get connected, find support, and discover other great blogs!

The first was the New Bloggers support group run by Evelina at Avalinahsbooks. Whether you’re new to the book blogging thing or you’ve been at it for a while, she’s an invaluable resource! If you’re a book blogger and haven’t already, you should go check it out right now!

Again, with everything going on, I haven’t been able to participate a whole lot this past month or so on the app and I’ve missed it terribly! So part of this goal is to make full use of the community Evelina has made and retweet, reblog, and support in any way I can my fellow book bloggers!

The second great resource for me was The Write Reads on Twitter. The Write Reads makes it super easy to support other book bloggers! Every day, a different blog post is featured as the blog of the day. Others visit and retweet the post.

I’ve discovered a lot of new bloggers, new books, and great posts through The Write Reads. There have been days when the only other blogger I’ve been able to visit was the blog of the day so I’m super thankful to be a part of it and want to keep it going through 2019!

6. Create and Stick To an Editorial Calendar!

I am great at scheduling months in advance for my family, but I am horrible at it for my blog!!!

I tried to use a calendar to come up with ideas and a schedule for last year, but when I actually used it, I never followed through.

So… my goal is to actually make use of an editorial calendar. This should keep me from needing to play catch up in 2019!

7. Post 5+ Times a Week

This one kinda goes with #6, but I decided to give it it’s own number.

One of the great things about planning out posts for a month, is that I know what’s coming up! So I can write posts in advance and schedule them to post!

I’ve been getting better about this, but I want to do even better in 2019! If I stick to it, I won’t have any problem making sure I’ve got posts Monday-Friday.

8. Host 3+ Giveaways in 2019

I think I entered almost every bookish giveaway I saw at the end of 2018!

While I wasn’t fortunate enough to win any of them, I loved the idea and am really excited to do some myself! So stay tuned as I’ll be giving away books and gift cards soon!

9. Post more about Fostering.

While this blog is mostly about books, I’m also a foster parent and I want to talk more about that.

Fostering isn’t easy and people aren’t always supportive. There are things that people don’t talk about and there are some things that are just down right funny. I want to bring it all out in the open – the good, the bad, the funny, and the sad. I’m hoping to connect more with other foster parents and other bloggers who blog about their experiences.

10. HAVE FUN!

My last goal is just to have fun. Sometimes, blogging can feel like a chore instead of a hobby. So in 2019, I want to just keep enjoying what I’m doing and sharing with all of you!

So I’m looking forward to having fun as we comb through the pages of life together!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Posted in blogging

A No Post, Post

So… I had planned on using today to draft the post for today and for the next two weeks. But I kinda hit my head last night in a weird sleep walking/dream thing and my eyes and attention span aren’t cooperating… but I wanted to post something, so here you go. A No Post post. Hope everyone is having a great Christmas Eve!

Posted in blogging, book reviews

The 5 Books I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Read in 2018

I obviously did quite a bit of reading in 2018 (there are three books sitting next to me at the moment to attest to the fact I’m still reading). But, as my Goodreads To-Read list can tell you… there are SO MANY great novels and stories that I wasn’t able to read.

It’s a little depressing because now that it’s the end of 2017, I’m starting to see other book bloggers posting their 2018 lists showing all the books they read this past year. It’s impressive, but I’m like… Did everyone else get through their top picks but me???

I figure I can’t be alone, so I thought I’d share the 5 books I REALLY wanted to get to this year but wasn’t able to read for one reason or another…
36389267

#1 – A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

I was super excited to read A Thousand Perfect Notes! It’s actually the only reason I even found out about the wonderful world of Book Depository! I had read and viewed a TON of positive reviews, but when I went to my local bookstore, they were unable to order it for me.

Then, Amazon wouldn’t sell it to me either… I was distraught. So I did what all normal, well-adjusted adults do – I went online and whined about it.

And that’s when I was told I couldn’t order it because it wasn’t being released in the U.S. but I might have some luck getting a copy through Book Depository. This changed my life! Not only did I find a way to get all the books, but I signed up for their affiliate program, as well!
So here’s the summary (from Goodreads):

An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.
Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

I’m still really looking forward to the tears this book will be bringing… it’s just not going to happen before 2019 gets here.

35059797#2 – The Girl and the Grove by Eric Smith

So I follow Eric Smith and his wife on Twitter, which is how I originally found out about his book, The Girl and the Grove. But then I started seeing all the great reviews and I actually checked it out on Goodreads:

Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve.

But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park.

I’M DYING TO READ THIS BOOK GUYS!!!! It’s another one that I fully expect to have me in tears, but I’m okay with it!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to pick it up at any of the local bookstores… I just checked again today and they still don’t have it. So if no one gets it for me for Christmas, I’m just gonna have to break down and order it from Amazon.

36347878#3 – The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

This is another one I found out about through other book blogger reviews. I preordered it, but never got the chance to read it, which is exceptionally sad given the fact that the employee who handed it to me confessed to reading some of it before I got there to pick it up… he really enjoyed my book and had decided to order one for himself. I’m sure he’s read it by now. As you’ll see by the next book, this isn’t even the only book in this list that others have purchased on my suggestion and I haven’t even read yet myself! (I’m not really sure how I feel about this.)

So here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.
Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.
Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?

36952594#4 – A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Okay, so I don’t want to come across as unnecessarily dramatic, but… if I don’t read this book my soul may die a little bit!!!
This is another one that I have talked about wanting to read so much that multiple people now have it before me! Some pre-ordered, others recently picked it up for Christmas presents… and I’m still without a copy.
Have you checked this book out yet??? Here’s the Goodreads:

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.
Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

I’m really hoping this shows up under my Christmas tree!!!

#5 – Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History by Sam Maggs

This is another one I pre-ordered. I also signed up for every giveaway I could find for it!!! And yet… I haven’t been able to read it yet either.
The farthest I got was when I brought it home and read the first chapter to my daughters… I’m sad just thinking about all the time I’ve missed out on reading Girl Squads. Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

A modern girl is nothing without her squad of besties. But don’t let all the hashtags fool you: the #girlsquad goes back a long, long time. In this hilarious and heartfelt book, geek girl Sam Maggs takes you on a tour of some of history’s most famous female BFFs, including:
• Anne Bonny and Mary Read, the infamous lady pirates who sailed the seven seas and plundered with the best of the men
• Jeanne Manon Roland and Sophie Grandchamp, Parisian socialites who landed front-row seats (from prison) to the French Revolution
• Sharon and Shirley Firth, the First Nations twin sisters who would go on to become Olympic skiers and break barriers in the sport
• The Edinburgh Seven, the band of pals who fought to become the first women admitted to medical school in the United Kingdom
• The Zohra Orchestra, the ensemble from Afghanistan who defied laws, danger, and threats to become the nation’s first all-female musical group
And many more! Spanning art, science, politics, activism, and even sports, these girl squads show just how essential female friendship has been throughout history and throughout the world. Sam Maggs brings her signature wit and warmth as she pays tribute to the enduring power of the girl squad. Fun, feisty, and delightful to read—with empowering illustrations by artist Jenn Woodall—it’s the perfect gift for your BFF.

So there you have it, the books I can’t believe I didn’t read in 2018. What books do you wish you’d been able to get to but couldn’t this year? Do you think you’ll be able to check them off of your TBR in 2019?

Posted in blogging

Experiencing Technical Difficulties – Please Stand By

I’m currently in the process of switching from WordPress.com to .org. If you’re here, then you may have already noticed – I have NO IDEA what I’m doing right now!

I thought this process was going to be fairly simple, but in the process of importing/exporting I’ve lost every post since August. I’m working on getting them back, so no tears have been cried (yet). Hopefully, things will be back up and running normally soon, but please bear with me in the meantime. 

Also, if you see something crazy/misplaced/obviously or uncertainly “not right” over the next few days, PLEASE let me know! I’d be super appreciative of any advice, comments, jokes, and/or random funny gifs… basically anything you can say or do to help me not go crazy during this time is not only welcomed, but encouraged!! (Especially the jokes and gifs, although the advice and pointing out of problems would probably be more helpful.)