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
Posted in book reviews

After the Green Withered – Blog Tour Review

It’s Day 7 of The Write Reads‘ Ultimate Blog Tour! That means it’s FINALLY my turn to talk about After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward!!!

About the Book:

After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward
on May 18, 2018
ISBN: 9781982900731
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 283
Source: the author
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

They tell me the country looked different back then.

They talk of open borders and flowing rivers.

They say the world was green.

But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality.

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?

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 After the Green Withered:

I was hooked on this book from the very beginning!

It starts with a description of the world Enora has grown up in, and the little bit she’s aware of how it got to be this way. The way everything played out was so believable it gave me chills! I could totally see this happening in real life and it terrified me.

The Story:

Basically, we’ve destroyed the planet and now there’s not enough water or other basic resources for us to survive on. Years go by without a drop of rain. Water credits are now the world currency and most families are given barely enough to survive on.

Enora is 17 and is about to graduate from school. Upon graduating, she must choose a job from her limited options (none sound appealing to her) and start working – probably in the mill like her parents. At least, that’s what she expected to happen…

Instead, Enora is recruited by the DMC, the organization that “saved” the world from it’s population of destructive humans. The DMC is a global powerhouse that started out small, but now governs the entire world. Enora doesn’t want to work from them. It’s the thing she never saw as a possibility and thought of as the worst possible outcome for her future.

But no one really cares what she wants.

And no one says no to being recruited by the DMC.

So she’s thrust into a whole new world as she begins preparing for her new life. She loses touch with her only friend and starts a path to becoming someone she doesn’t recognize. But her parents are much better off and she does make some new friends, although she still feels like an outsider.

Even though things aren’t all bad, Enora continues to be plagued by a feeling that things aren’t right. However, she rationalizes all her doubts away, ignoring the warning signs until she can’t ignore them anymore.

Themes:

There are a couple of different themes that run throughout the book and I feel like I could write a whole series of posts on them! But I’ll spare you from my ramblings and just break them down real simply here.

Enora, like many others, want to resist the pull of the DMC, but can’t see a way out. The consequences of resistance are just too severe. The phrase “resistance is futile,” while never actually used in After the Green Withered, ran through my head continually during my reading.

This is the bleak reality that I need to face. Beyond the fence of every community is nothing. No water, no food, no chance of survival. The Company knows this, depends on it. I suppose that there are some who live beyond the borders. God knows not everyone was rounded up as the Company swept through, but where those people live and how they live is beyond my imagining.

Enora, After the Green Withered

There’s also a major theme of the haves vs. the have nots. I won’t expound on that since it’s a pretty simple concept.

Of course, the underlying message throughout the entire book is basically “take care of the earth now before it’s too late.”

Also, don’t allow a single entity to become so powerful that it dictates everything for every person in the entire world!!!

The Writing:

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this story. After reading the synopsis, I was excited about getting to read it for the Ultimate Blog Tour, but the writing style wasn’t what I expected – or what I normally enjoy.

My preferred reading experience is heavy on the dialogue. But After the Green Withered actually has little of that.

Somehow, I found myself pulled more into the story than I ever have with a book written in this way. I wanted to point this out because I think it shows what amazing skill the author has in spinning a tale!

There was only one negative thing I could find in the whole book that bothered me… It happened pretty far in and so I was already hooked and fully immersed in the world and then suddenly I was thrown back into reality like I’d rode in on lightening!

About halfway through the book, there’s a place where Enora and her partner, Springer, have parked and are walking through a parking garage type structure. They’re far away from their vehicle when suddenly I read “He parks the jeep outside a large building…” It took me a good 10 minutes to get past that point and be able to jump back into the story. This isn’t something that may have bothered anyone else as much as it did me. This is the only time that happens, so it’s not a reason to ditch the book,
but if this is one of your reading pet peeves… you’ve been warned!

Final Thoughts:

I loved reading After the Green Withered and I recommend it for just about anyone! It’s thought-provoking and entertaining and I just loved it!!! I will say though, it’s caused me to feel some guilt about how much water I use!

What do you think? Have you read “After the Green Withered?” Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious about it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang

This may be the weirdest review I’ve ever written. Probably not for anyone reading it, but definitely for me personally.

Why? I’m glad you asked!

Okay, you probably didn’t, but I’m gonna tell you anyway…

I’m not normally big on war/battle scenes outside of the fantasy genre. I have no idea why, but give me a smoked orc, a decapitated goblin, burnt elf flesh – even a highly bloody GOT battle – and I’m all in! But a real life battle scene? Machine guns, fighter jets, human vs. human in a horrific and pointless war??? Nope. Can’t do it.

But of course, that’s exactly how Wings of a Flying Tiger began — with a jet fighter shoot out and a pilot seeing his best friend being shot out of the sky while trying to parachute to safety… right before his own plane is brought down! This is NOT my kinda thing!!

So why did I love this book SO much???

Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris YangWings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang
Published by Open Books on May 20, 2018
ISBN: 194859806X
Pages: 254
Source: Open Books
Goodreads
five-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

World War Two. Japanese occupied China. One cousin's courage, another's determination to help a wounded American pilot.

In the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot’s odds of survival are slim.

Jasmine Bai, an art student who had been saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also falls in love with the courageous American.

With the help of Daisy’s brother, an entire village opens its arms to heal a Flying Tiger with injured wings, but as a result of their charity the serenity of their community is forever shattered.

Love, sacrifice, kindness, and bravery all play a part in this heroic tale that takes place during one of the darkest hours of Chinese history.

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 Open Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on Wings of a Flying Tiger:

I’m going to try my best to write a spoiler-free review, but it’s going to be tough. There’s so much I want to say about this book! At the same time, I don’t want to give too much of the story away or ruin any twists.

Let’s get this out of the way first – This book takes place during an incredibly brutal war. There are LOTS OF TRIGGERS: rape/sexual assault; extreme violence and lots of dead bodies; in-depth depictions of war scenes and horribly cruel crimes. But if you can make it through all that, you’re probably going to add Wings of a Flying Tiger to your favorites!

The Story:

While the violence is horrific, the story itself is compelling, well-written, and super fast-paced! I found myself pausing so my heart had time to slow down.

Yes, the story takes place in a war. Yes, it’s gruesome. Yet it’s also filled with hope, love, and joy.

The main character, Jasmine Bai, leaves school to travel home to convince her parents to leave Nanking before the Japanese invade. But her warning comes too late and she finds herself in the middle of Japanese-controlled territory! She ends up taking refuge at an all-women college inside the International Safety Zone, a 2-mile stretch that’s supposed to offer safety to the surviving civilians. But the Japanese military doesn’t obey the rules of the zone for very long!

Just when it seems Jasmine’s life might regain some level of safety and “normalcy,” her life is shaken up yet again when she and her cousin come upon a Flying Tiger (an American pilot volunteering to fight for China against the Japanese) named Danny.

The Characters:

The characters in Wings of a Flying Tiger are part of what keeps the story flowing at such a fast and engaging pace. They’re so well-written it’s hard not to find yourself completely enthralled with them, wondering what’s going to happen next and how they’ll get out of their current predicament.

Jasmine and her cousin, Daisy, are sweet and innocent in the beginning of the novel and somehow manage to maintain some of that in the most brutal of situations. Daisy especially seems sheltered from the harshness of the war as the two girls go through life just trying to survive.

The Fighting Tiger, Danny, is suffering from PTSD (obviously not referred to as that in the book) and struggles with nightmares while at the same time being anxious to get back to the fight after his plane is brought down. If I talk too much more about Danny, I’m afraid I’ll ruin some things so I’ll just end right there on him.

There are plenty of other supporting characters, good and bad. Everyone I either loved or hated.

Final Thoughts:

This was an incredibly hard book to read. Not because the story, writing, characters, or anything like that was “bad,” but because the story, writing, characters, and scenes were so good! The story takes place in the middle of a war, while Japanese soldiers are committing the most horrible atrocities imaginable — and the author doesn’t back down from that. She writes it in all its horridness. Normally, I can’t stomach this stuff…

So I cannot believe how much I loved this book. The entire time spent reading I either cried, laughed, experienced joy, pain, relief, fear, love or hate. And I felt emotionally spent by the time I reached the end. But sometimes, the best books just do that you!

What do you think? Have you read Wings of a Flying Tiger?

Have you ever read a book that had all the stuff you hate reading, yet loved the book anyway? Leave me a comment below and thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

five-stars
Posted in book reviews

Remarkable Hope

Remarkable HopeRemarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People by Shauna Letellier
Published by FaithWords on March 5, 2019
ISBN: 1455571717
Genres: Christian Non-fiction, Inspirational
Pages: 224
Source: FirstWords Bloggers
Goodreads
five-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

Rediscover eight people in the Bible whose hopes and expectations went from disappointment to life-changing transformation through Jesus.

Remarkable Hope reveals a pattern of hope where individuals were surprised by Jesus in drastic ways after they placed their hope in him and were--at first--disappointed. Their stories show his work was rarely what they anticipated.

As we observe Christ's faithful commitment to these Biblical characters who hoped in him, we are wowed by his unseen plan. We are comforted by his orchestration of circumstances and revived by his enduring presence. Remarkable Hope helps us gladly declare, like the apostle Paul, that "our hope does not disappoint us."

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

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on Remarkable Hope:

I feel like I’ve said this a lot lately, but I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

Like many others, I’ve had times in my life where I’ve questioned whether my hope in Jesus was misplaced. It’s seemed as if I’d never get past the pain and felt as if every day brought a new set of troubles. Remarkable Hope is a wonderful book for anyone who has ever felt that way in the past, or is going through hard times right now.

It’s filled with stories about fairly well-known biblical characters. The way they’re told makes their stories feel so much more real, and gave so much more meaning to them, that I found myself amazed I’d never seen such insight into them before! The chapter about Jairus and his daughter was particularly moving. It had me weeping uncontrollably!

As the introduction chapter, “Steadfast Hope” states,

…chapters are biblical vignettes: short retellings of times when people placed their hope in Christ and appeared – at first – to be disappointed by him. …

As we observe his faithful commitment to those who hope in him, we will be wowed by his unseen plan, comforted by his words, and revived by his presence.

excerpts from the Steadfast Hope chapter, Remarkable Hope

The set up:

I particularly enjoyed the way the book was set up/organized.

Each chapter begins with the bible verses featuring the character the chapter is about. It then moves into a fictionalized account of the same time period/scene in that biblical figure’s life. The stories themselves are incredibly moving and prove Letellier’s point on their own. But she then goes on to give a further reflection on the person and the type of hope they had. Each chapter then ends with a prayer.

Final Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book. As I already said, I think it’s perfect for just about anyone! Whether you’re a believer in Christ, or just need a ray of hope to shine in your life, this book is going to lift your spirits and help pull you up and through!

What do you think? Have you read Remarkable Hope? Could you use a book like this? Have a similar book suggestion for me? Leave me a comment below and thanks for visiting Combing Through the Pages!

five-stars
Posted in book reviews

The Frizz by Jasmine Fogwell

The Frizz by Jasmine FogwellThe Frizz by Jasmine Fogwell, Amy Martin
Published by Jasmine Fogwell on July 3, 2018
ISBN: 0995265003
Genres: Children's Fiction
Pages: 34
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

Jeannie Avery Gibbins has frizzy hair and a wild imagination. Every day her mother has to help tame the frizz to get her ready for school. But each morning, when Jeannie sees her hair in the mirror, she gets an idea. Today, she doesn't see frizzy hair, instead she sees a lion's mane. What do you think Jeannie's hair will turn into tomorrow?

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 The Frizz:

My first thought on the children’s book The Frizz, was “a kid’s book featuring a girl with frizzy hair? Count me in!” As a girl with frizzy, unruly hair, who grew up to be a woman with frizzy hair, I was instantly on board and excited for this story.

Every morning, Jeannie wakes up and looks in the mirror. And every morning she sees her frizzy hair and has an idea of what to do with it! So every morning, after Jeannie has transformed herself into whatever her imagination has made her that day (a lion, a rockstar, a mop?!?!?), her mom has to get that frizz tamed! This reminded me a lot of when I was younger and my dad had to fix mine and my sister’s hair and… well, it’s amazing either of us still has hair left!

The story itself is really cute and funny. I think it’d be great for a little girl with frizzy hair.

I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, but it wasn’t horrible. I think I was just expecting something different.

Overall, The Frizz is a cute, fun children’s book. What do you think? Have you read The Frizz or can you relate to the torture of having your frizzy hair “tamed” before school as a kid? Leave me a comment below!

three-half-stars