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 book reviews

DNF ARC – Root Cause by Steven Laine

DNF ARC – Root Cause by Steven LaineRoot Cause by Steven Laine
Published by Turner Publishing ISBN: 1684422590
Source: Turner Publishing

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.


Can you imagine a world without wine?

Corvina Guerra is a flying winemaker who dreams of one day settling down in her native Italy on her family's vineyard. On a visit to a vineyard in Italy, Corvina makes a startling discovery: Phylloxera, a menacing plant louse that devastated vineyards in Europe more than a hundred years ago, has infested the vines.

After reporting her findings to her company, Universal Wines, Corvina is charged with investigating the spread of the bug. Nicknamed Philomena by the media, the aphid is soon discovered in vineyards around the world. To aid in her investigation, Corvina recruits a wine expert in London, Brian Lawless. In pursuit of its origins, Corvina and Brian embark on a thrilling globetrot on which they uncover that Philomena is a genetically modified strain of Phylloxera and is being intentionally spread.

The deeper Corvina and Brian search, the more they become convinced that Universal Wines holds the answer to everything, and the harder they pursue their investigation the more surprises pile up for both of them.

In spite of devastating consequences, Corvina and Brian vow to continue their investigation and do what they can to contain the spread of the infestation - but time is running short and they always seem to be a step behind. Unless they can find a way to stop the Philomena - vineyards around the world will be ruined for decades; potentially causing the collapse of the wine industry. Can Corvina and Brian get to the root cause and save the international wine industry from ruin?

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

Buy on Amazon

My Thoughts on Root Cause:

I want to be incredibly clear before I go on to talk about this book – I did not finish it. So my thoughts are only on the first 109 pages of the 358 pages that comprise Root Cause.

What made me want this book in the first place?

There are a few different ways book bloggers acquire the books we review. A lot of it is dependent on where we live in the world, and how accessible books are, in general. For me, the books I review normally come from requests I’ve received directly from authors and publicists and if a book sounds like something I’d definitely enjoy (and I’ve got the time), then I’ll accept it for review. On rare occasions, I’ll reach out to a publisher and request a book.

Root Cause was one of those rare times when I wanted to read the book so badly that I contacted the publisher directly to request a review copy.

I mean, read the summary! What’s not to love about this book? It’s a mystery\thriller where the world’s wine is at stake! I’ve always wanted to go to Italy (and you remember the box of wine story) so I felt like there was No Way I couldn’t connect with this book!

So What went wrong?

I actually enjoyed the main characters, Corvina and Brian. Corvina is smart and relatable in a lot of ways. Brian is funny and does a great job of balancing out Corvina’s seriousness.

But too much of the story itself just wasn’t believable enough for me and turned me off.

For one thing, the entire wine industry – not just local, but GLOBALLY – is in danger, but not a single person outside of Corvina and Brian are worried about it?? I mean, if you have a billion dollar industry and there’s even a chance that it could go bye-bye, you’re probably going to want to take steps to prevent that!

Also, the way that Corvina and Brian get teamed up together made me cringe. Corvina has never heard of Brian before, she’s just talking to her friend about needing help and her friend Googles “tall, dark, and handsome wine expert” and Brian’s name pops up. Corvina calls him, but he doesn’t answer. She leaves a message and he doesn’t call back, he sends her a text with a place (a bar??) and time to meet IN ANOTHER COUNTRY and she goes!


Not only is it completely ridiculous that a woman would actually travel to another country to meet a man she’s never met before, knows nothing about, and has never even had a conversation withbut it was completely out of character! I couldn’t see Corvina actually going to meet this guy! The whole book gets started with her obsessive worry over something NO ONE else is worried about… does that seem like someone who doesn’t bat an eye at going to meet a stranger alone in a bar in another country???

There’s also a lot of wine jargon and description of every wine they drink, taste, see, etc. While questioning a vineyard owner, they ask maybe three questions about the bugs destroying the vineyards and there are about three pages describing the wines they are drinking with little about the actual problem central to the book.

So I guess the real reason I couldn’t finish Root Cause is that I just never bought into the story, which was super disappointing since I was SO excited to read it! It might appeal to people who love wine much more than I do, but I just couldn’t do it.

I’d love to hear what you think! Have you read Root Cause?

Have you been excited for a book and it disappointed you? What was the book? What about it turned you off?

Posted in Note to Self

Note to Self: You’re Not on Vacation Anymore!

Well, I’m back (sorta)!

We had an amazing time on our vacation. But I think my brain may still be there!

I cannot seem to get back into the swing of things now that I’m back home… I don’t feel like cleaning, writing, cooking, or really doing anything that requires effort at all. Even carrying on coherent, meaningful conversations is just too much! Why can’t I just Cyndi Lauper my life away?

I’m aware that my refusal to be a productive member of society again probably means the cruise we took spoiled me just a little too much!

For now, I’m okay with it. I’m usually so stressed about everything that’s it’s nice to have a more laid back attitude… At least until I starve as I chill in my dusty home reading books and talking to people on the internet. (Can someone remind me to eat occasionally?)

Seriously, am I the only person who struggles to get back into the normal flow of life after vacation? What do you do to get motivated again?

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.


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!


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

Experiencing Technical Difficulties – Please Stand By

I’m currently in the process of switching from 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.)