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Posted in Giveaway

Summertime Giveaway!

This year has been filled with lots of exciting and unexpected events and opportunities, for which I’m super grateful! At the same time, it’s flying by at a speed I feel incapable of keeping up with.

And now, here we are, on the brink of summer and I haven’t managed to keep one single 2019 Blogging Goal:

I haven’t started reading through the Harvard Classics.

I haven’t managed to consistently blog once a week, let alone four days a week!

And I haven’t run a single giveaway… UNTIL NOW! I’m finally starting to catch up and my first order of business is a summertime giveaway!

I’ll be giving away one book of the winner’s choice (up to $30) from Book Depository*. The winner will be chosen and announced on Friday, June 21 and you have until June 15 to enter! Entry form is below.

Quick note: This is my first time doing a giveaway and using Rafflecopter, so please excuse any hiccups in the process, and feel free to give feedback and suggestions for future giveaways! Thanks and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Book Depository must deliver to your location in order to win. Winner will be contacted via e-mail and announced on Combing Through the Pages and Twitter.

Posted in book reviews

Be back June 1!

Hey guys! Just a quick post to let everyone know I’m not gone forever, just until June 1. And… I’ll have a new sidekick joining me when I return!

Till then, happy reading everyone!

~Jess

Posted in book reviews

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonaldThe Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
Published by Gallery Books on February 5, 2019
ISBN: 1501184008
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

I received this book for free from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on The Night Olivia Fell:

The love I have for my daughters exceeds anything else found on this earth. If you ask Thing 1, she’d tell you I love my children more than most other parents love theirs… to the point that it gets annoying and suffocating at times!

Thing 1 and I are especially close and she knows my biggest fear is to get “the call.” Even if you’re the type of parent that spends 20 hours of your 24 hour day complaining about your teenager, you know and fear “the call.” It’s the one that causes your stomach to drop before you even pick up the line, the one that changes your life forever, the one where a complete stranger tells you your child is seriously injured — or dead.

It’s every parent’s worst fear.

Thanks to some past events in my life, I suffer from PTSD. My particular trauma involves harm to my children and so this fear is even more magnified for me (probably why I get all suffocate-y sometimes).

It’s probably also why The Night Olivia Fell was such an emotionally gut-wrenching, roller-coaster ride of a story for me!

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it… But it was hard to get through. I saw so many similarities between Olivia and Abi’s relationship to my relationship with Thing 1 that it all felt way too personal and real!

Abi and her daughter are obviously super close and Abi loves Olivia fiercely. But then comes the night Olivia falls… suddenly, Abi has to come to terms with the fact that maybe she didn’t really know her daughter at all.

Not only does she have to keep processing that bit of life-altering, earth-shattering news, but her daughter’s pregnant, the police refuse to believe the fall wasn’t an accident, and Abi’s life is just all around spinning out of control! She’s built her entire adult life around Olivia and now she’s gone. Even if she does find out what happened that night, how does she go on???

Final Thoughts:

I’ve got to tell you, this book gave me chills! (And nightmares.) I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good suspense novel featuring relatable characters and a totally believable plot!

What do you think? Have you read The Night Olivia Fell? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

four-half-stars
Posted in Adventures in Audiobooks

Adventures in Audiobooks

Well guys and gals, I’m finally ready to announce what the heck has been taking up so much of my time and keeping me from all you lovely people (and totally screwing up my original 2019 blogging goals).

I’ve been incredibly blessed since I started book blogging at the end of last summer. I’ve met some amazing bloggers, authors, editors, etc. It sometimes feels as if my bookish dreams are being granted by a fairy godmother…

Bookish Dream #1 – Free Books to Share the Book Love

My love for books has always exceeded my bank account.

Before discovering the amazing world of book blogging, I had no idea what an ARC (“Advanced Review Copy”) was, let alone how to get my hands on one.

I did love sharing my thoughts on everything I read though. Nothing makes me happier than helping someone discover their next great read… except maybe keeping them from picking up the next horrible one!

Enter Twitter and it’s amazing bookish community! I posted a review of a book last year and shared the post to Twitter. I had no idea how that one post would change me and this blog…

After that post went live, I started getting followed on Twitter by some book bloggers. From checking out their sites and reviews, I learned SO MUCH! I discovered NetGalley, started getting approached by authors looking for reviewers, and my TBR pile grew taller than my 5 feet 4.5 inches without me spending a single dime. But the best part…

I got to share my love of the books I was reading with other people who actually cared what I had to say!!!

Before book blogging, I pretty much shared my love of books with anyone who would listen (whether they wanted to hear it or not). Now, I have actual bookish people to talk to and share my passion with.

Bookish Dream #2 – Getting Paid to Read to People

As a book lover, I’ve always secretly dreamed of getting hired to do nothing but read to people.

I didn’t even care who the people were… kids, adults, iguanas?? Who cares as long as their listening to the story!

And after a lot of second thoughts, training, construction, and even some tears, I finally feel comfortable sharing with you all that this dream is coming true!!! I’ve embarked on a new adventure and I am now an audiobook narrator!!!

By the end of this summer, you’ll be able to find at least 6 books on Amazon, Audible and iTunes narrated by yours truly!! So far, genres I’ve been involved in are suspense, short stories, science fiction & fantasy, and Christian non-fiction. I’ll be sharing titles as they come available and I can’t wait to hear what you all think!

(To that end, if you’re a book blogger who reviews audiobooks and would like the opportunity to receive review copies, please send me a message through the Contact Me page or an e-mail to reviewrequest@jesscombs.com and I’ll add you to my list of potential reviewers and let you know when promo copies are available. And if you’re a rights holder interested in having your book(s) narrated and produced, please message me through the Contact Me page or e-mail to jessica@jesscombs.com.)

I really cannot put into words how incredibly excited and happy I am for this new adventure! But not only that, I’m so thrilled that I’ve met so many people online who I know are going to be just as excited as I am for me and I thank you all for your support and encouragement. The book blogging community is so awesome and I’m proud to be a small part of it!

Thanks for sharing in this dream with me!

Posted in keto diet

4 Surprises from My First Month on Keto

I normally wouldn’t share a post like this, but I’m kinda amazed and want to tell anyone who will listen about it…

I’ve mentioned in some previous posts about the problems with my neck/ arm but haven’t really given a lot of details about what it’s meant for my daily life.

One if the hardest and most challenging things has been my inability to exercise. I went from running half-marathons and 15-mile races on whim to nothing. Running was my “therapy.” It cleared my mind and helped me process all my anxious and overloaded thoughts.

In addition to not getting the exercise I needed for both my physical and mental health, I quit eating healthy. To be honest, I was never a super healthy eater, but I definitely got worse over the last year or so.

I started feeling really bad. It wasn’t just that I’d put on weight and was self- conscious about it, but I physically felt awful. I struggled to breathe walking up the stairs and sometimes got winded just walking around my house. I was becoming more and more miserable everyday.

My husband’s constant suggestion to exercise was super unhelpful because there wasn’t much I could do. And when I found that yoga helped me to feel better and eased my neck/shoulder/arm pain, he didn’t like it and so I quit. (Yeah, I’m aware how stupid that is. We’ve discussed and worked through the stupidity & stubbornness on both sides of that one… You can still feel free to harass me in the comments though if so desire.)

Then, one month ago today, I started following a ketogenic diet.

Well, I kinda started a month ago…? Actually, I’d researched it for a month before that and started lowering my carb intake because I’m a big baby and was scared off the “keto flu.”

Anyway… I’m super excited about my weight loss so far, but what I really wanted to share is the side-effects I’ve experienced in addition to the loss of pounds!

So here are the 4 biggest surprises/bonuses I’ve experienced on keto so far:

  1. Going without sleep thanks to foster babies and teenage babies, I’ve been in a constant brain fog for what feels like forever! But after the first week of keto, I noticed I was thinking more clearly and didn’t feel nearly as stupid as I have been!
  2. I have almost no desire to snack anymore. I was snacking all day long before keto. I also ate a bag of microwave popcorn every night before bed and then got up in the middle of the night craving chips. It only took about 3 days for those cravings to disappear completely! Not only that, but I don’t eat or require as much food to feel full and I hardly even get hungry during the day.
  3. The food!!! I’m not saying I never miss bread (I’ve found some great keto bread recipes), but I am loving the meals I get to eat! What other diet makes you feel this good and still allows you to eat things like bacon cheeseburger casserole???
  4. The health benefits!!! I have high blood pressure that’s incredibly hard to control. I also suffer from intense migraines. Both would plague me for days every single week. In the last month, I’ve had one migraine and one fight with my bp. Since the change in my diet is the only thing different, I’ve got to assume keto is the reason!

So those were the big surprises for me on keto so far that I wanted to share with everyone.

For those who are interested to know what my 1 month weight loss results have been:

Pounds lost: 13.1

Inches from waist: 3.0

Inches from hips: 2.75

I’m interested in others stories… Have you tried keto or been shocked by other diets? Leave me a comment below!

Posted in book reviews

A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery

A Light in the Desert by Anne MontgomeryA Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery
Published by Treehouse Publishing/Amphorae Publishing Group on November 6, 2018
ISBN: 1732139113
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction
Pages: 286
Source: the author
Goodreads
three-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

A Light in the Desert traces the story of a lonely pregnant teenager, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on A Light in the Desert:

I have some very conflicting/mixed emotions about A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery. It isn’t that the book was necessarily bad or that I didn’t enjoy it, but I can’t say it was one of the best books I’ve read lately either.

The beginning started out a little too slow for my taste, yet at the same time it introduced way too many people, circumstances, and information too fast. The result was that I became confused on what was going on, who was who, and how all the different characters fit together.

Eventually, I did figure out what was happening. Eventually it all made sense how all the different people were linked, but it caused me to have a really hard time sticking with the book.

That being said, once I got over my initial confusion, I did really start to enjoy the story…. which is where all my mixed emotions come from.

Another strange thing that happens in this book is that it almost reads as two separate stories.

There are multiple main characters – Kelly Kelly/Kelly Garcia, Jason Ramm, Billy, and a couple of members from a cult-type group which call themselves “the Children of the Light.” At one point, it seems like the main story that draws them all together is over, but then it picks back up again with a completely new central issue. I was literally halfway through the book and things had been pretty much all worked out and I thought “do I even need to read the rest of the book?” That’s never happened to me before and I still don’t know how I feel about it.

Like I said, I still ended up enjoying the book. And actually the second half turned out to be my favorite… it was just a different experience than I’m used to.

Final Thoughts:

I know this has been a really vague post, but this a book where I feel my reactions and feelings about it are probably more helpful than actually talking about what happens in the book itself. Especially since telling the characters stories would probably give away a lot of the “surprise” about how they all fit together.

Overall, I think it’s worth the read. There are some trigger warnings that you should be aware of before picking it up. They include: incest, rape/attempted rape, violence, PTSD, and sexual abuse of a minor.

three-half-stars