Posted in blogging

My Top 5 Blogging and Reading Goals for 2020

Not gonna lie, I’m a little afraid to write this post. Last year was the first time I’ve ever put a clear list of goals “on paper” and I achieved exactly… ZERO!!

In my defense, last year was a year of the unexpected. How’s that joke go…? If you wanna make God laugh, tell Him your plans? Well, God was doing some serious belly laughing at me in 2019!

When 2019 started, we were something similar to empty-nesters. My oldest daughter was away at college, my youngest was living with her father in another county, and it was just my husband and me in an eerily silent home, figuring out life without any kids begging for our attention 20+ hours of the day.

By the end of 2019 we had six kids – Four of which were under four years of age and I honestly can’t remember the last time it was quiet here for more than 5 minutes except for nap and bedtime!!

In the “calm” before our home became something resembling a 24-hour daycare, I set up my recording studio in a closet under our stairs and began earnestly working on my audiobook career. After the youngest four of our tribe moved in, I found myself with more work than I could handle and keeping up with my blog was impossible! Plus, I just didn’t feel like it.

Even thinking about writing a blog post began causing anxiety attacks. So, for the sake of my mental health and the general well-being of everyone around me, my online life became close to non-existent while we were all adjusting to a new “normal.”

It took quite some time, but I’ve figured out how to continue narrating and producing audiobooks amidst the chaos. Every day brings at least three unexpected twists, but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier…which, now that I’m thinking about it, is pretty freaking odd. I mean, I’m probably more stressed/worried on a regular basis, but in some ways I’m more calm and laidback and…well… Happy.

And that happiness has finally extended to a desire for my website as well. I’m feeling excited about connecting with other book lovers and sharing my life and thoughts with my online peeps again. Which is something I haven’t felt since I first started blogging a couple years ago.

But that’s not really the point of this post. The whole topic is supposed to be what I want to accomplish on my blog and combing through the pages of my TBR in 2020. Instead, I once again managed to create a whole other post within a post.

Moving on…

Here are my goals for 2020:

1. Read and review at least 52 books! I wasn’t able to get much reading accomplished last year. Even when I did, I didn’t have it in me to jump online and review them. But I pretty much transformed into a reading and knitting machine in the last month or so and I’m looking forward to continuing that throughout the year!

2. Post at least 5 times a week. I’ve managed to put together a blogging planner for January that includes a post every day except Sundays! Not sure if I’ll be able to keep up that level of planning and writing the entire year, but I feel like I’m off to a great start.

3. Reestablish links with other book bloggers. One of the best parts of talking about books online is that there are so many incredibly supportive people in the community. I’ve really missed that as my “real” life took me farther and farther away from my life online. I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone again!

4. Promote my audiobooks. So I’m pretty much the worst when it comes to self-promo and marketing. I don’t know if it’s because I hate talking about myself or that I worry too much about coming across as pushy or what, but everytime I think about mentioning I’ve narrated a new book, I literally get itchy! Like right now…my left arm feels like I’ve managed to get chicken pocks! Ugh.

Anyway, I plan on dedicating one post a week to talking about what I’m working on in my studio, what’s already out, and what I’m planning on doing next.

5. Giveaways!!! I only got to do one giveaway last year. It was so exciting and much more fun than I’d expected. I really want to do at least three in 2020, and more if possible!

So there you have it. My top 5 blogging/reading goals for the year 2020. What are your goals? If you’ve posted a 2020 goals post, leave me a link below so I can check them out!

Thanks for visiting and Happy New Year!

Posted in about me, family, foster care, Note to Self

And then there were EIGHT!?!?

This year has been FULL of surprises! Big ones, small ones, happy ones, sad ones, and even strange and almost unbelievable ones (possums in the toilet?). Now, here we are. It’s almost November and I have no idea where the year has gone. But when I look back, it seems like too much has happened for less than a year to have gone by. (Such is life, I guess.)

Unfortunately, I’m a super goal-oriented person. I LOVE setting both small and big goals for myself and the feeling I get when I meet or exceed those goals! So far this year, with all the unexpected happenings, I’ve failed to hit almost every goal I’ve had, especially blogging goals. 

I’ve tried so hard to keep up with blogging but it’s been nearly impossible. So my new goal (as far as blogging is concerned) is to get used to using my phone to write and post and get caught up on reviews. Using my phone, in theory,  I “should” be able to stitch together some posts in short bursts of free time throughout my days.  So say a prayer, wish me luck, and sacrifice a chicken under the light of a full moon that this is one goal I’ll be able to stick to!

Actually, maybe don’t do that last one?

No… Definitely don’t do the last one.

Seriously, DON’T DO IT! If you have a chicken, I need the eggs!!!

It takes a whole dozen eggs just to make enough for everyone at breakfast now because one of those unexpected happenings that’s occurred this year was a previous foster placement coming back into care and back into our home, bringing our current family size to eight!!! (Note to self: you need to Google when it becomes cheaper to just raise chickens and dairy cows.)

Having 6 kids, my studio time has been cut short, but I’m finally get a bit set aside most days to work. I should get my audiobook page updated this weekend so please be sure to check that out and use the links found there to view & purchase from Audible! (As always, reviewers can contact me for promo codes.)

I’m also getting some quilting and crochet time in so I’ll try to post about those projects soon.

And, of course, I’ll be posting reviews!

I pre-apologize for any funky fonts, misspellings, or other craziness that occurs as I figure out this whole WordPress phone posting thing and appreciate any suggestions on how to keep my blog going and staying connected with the blogging community with small children! Leave me a comment below or shoot me a message through the Contact Me page. Thanks for visiting!

~Jess

Posted in Thing 1 Rants

Thing 1 Introduces a (hopefully) Semi-regular New Segment: Thing 1’s Thoughts and Rants

Hello readers of Combing Through the Pages, it is I, Thing 1, the eldest of my mother’s children.

Wow. That was more dramatic than I thought it would be.

Anyway… I’m here to introduce a new segment of posts that I will be doing this summer that are just going to be me ranting about things that I feel strongly about or about some random thought that I recently had.

These posts will hopefully be posted on a semi-regular basis on Friday. I make no promises on that though cause I’m a procrastinator at heart and it’s hard to keep that in check when it’s summer. So apologies in advance if this segment ends up not happening that often, but I will try my best.

I do hope that you all will enjoy the rants and thoughts that I do end up posting about. And I hope that you’ll find them as entertaining as me and my mom do.

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 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 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!!