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Keeping Christmas II by Havig, Bouldin, Beatty, Siennes, Wardwell, and Simmons; Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Keeping Christmas Volume II

Authors: Chautona Havig, Tabitha Bouldin, Susan K. Beatty, Jennifer Sienes, Melissa Wardwell, and Stacy T. Simmons.

Genre: Christian Christmas Romance

Release date: October 18, 2022

In castles far and near, long ago and yesterday, find happily-ever-afters wrapped in love and tied with Christmas joy.

Escape to Greenaway (by Chautona Havig): She just wanted to escape another holly, jolly family holiday. Because snowbound in a castle B&B with one of Santa’s elves (or as good as) is so much better. With the help of the castle’s owner, Tonya plays matchmaker in a bid to get that Christmas-loving girl out of her hair.

The King’s Promise (by Tabitha Bouldin): In a world of airships and kings, a prince makes a promise that tears him away from his love. An ordinary baker’s daughter finds herself caught in the middle of a game where the winner earns the queen’s crown. They both want what they can’t have as they struggle toward a seemingly impossible happily ever after.

A Castle for Christmas (by Susan K. Beatty): Sadie Foster abhors wealth. Will Randolph, on the other hand, works for the uber-wealthy owner of an over-the-top castle on the California coast–Sadie’s father. When Christopher Foster leaves the castle to her, Sadie doesn’t want anything to do with it or his money. But what if Sadie and Will use the castle and her inheritance for the good of others—together?

An Irish Christmas Heart (by Jennifer Sienes): Will she choose love or an arranged marriage? In the midst of post-famine unrest, Eleanor Blake, daughter of an English nobleman, is thrown into a maelstrom of emotions. How will she escape the duty for which she was born and the confines of the ill-fated Menlo Castle of Galway, Ireland to find her true love?

Christmas at Curwood’s Castle (by Melissa Wardwell): A Christmas party at Curwood Castle should have been Angel Davis’ Cinderella moment. Especially when her dear friend Jimmy arrives. Instead, one obstacle after another threatens to break any chance at a happily-ever-after.

Christmas in the Cotswolds (by Stacy T. Simmons): She’s a paleontologist and ardent Jane Austen fan. He’s enmeshed in the exactitude of mathematics, can they find common ground? Do opposites attract, will the romantic castle, and dashing duke be the undoing of Victoria’s plans?

Grab a mug of something hot and delicious and curl up somewhere comfy. Your literary chariots await to take you on a journey from an early twentieth-century castle in the San Gabriel Mountains of California all the way across the pond to the beautiful Cotswolds of England. These six novellas, all set in castles real and fictional, celebrate the heart and joy of Christmas in this second volume of castle Christmas novellas.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Authors

USA Today Bestselling author of Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including several in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.

Tabitha Bouldin is a student at Southern New Hampshire University, where she is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she works with critique groups and provides endorsements for other authors. Tabitha’s genre of choice is Contemporary Christian Romance which she describes as: Adventure with heart. Tabitha spent ten years working as a Medical Assistant before God opened the door which allowed her to become a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom and author.

Melissa Wardwell resides in Owosso, Michigan with her husband and three teen-aged children.She doesn’t mind alternating between the world of writing and the reality of being a mother, but she would rather sit with a good book or a good friend and a cup of coffee. When she isn’t penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books for her blog, Back Porch Reads. To see more from Melissa Wardwell, visit www.melissawardwell.com

Who says you can’t begin a new career after middle age? Certainly not Susan K. Beatty. She is passionate about writing about finding courage through faith and grit, particularly through the trials of breast cancer and other life trials. Her daughter is a metastatic breast cancer “thriver” and has been an inspiration for her writing. Susan’s first novel, Faces of Courage, debuted May 2021, as part of the Faces of Courage series, including several novelettes. She is also the author of An Introduction to Home Education (AKA California Homeschool Manual). Susan is a professional writer/journalist and is active in the writer community. She is proof you can begin a fiction writing career at any age.

Stacy T. Simmons writes uplifting fiction that delights the reader’s romantic sensibilities. Thirty-four years of marital bliss is a great contributor. She is a mom of two grown children, and she and her family have a menagerie of pets she likes to call “Noah’s Ark.” You can find her working on her next manuscript with a piece of dark chocolate and a cup of coffee nearby. Connect with Stacy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Fueled by Faith and Caffeine.

More from Tabitha

Castles near and far. Over time and across worlds both real and fictional. When it came time to write for Keeping Christmas, the world opened up to offer each of us a jewel for our stories. While I chose to base my castle off of a real castle in Romania, others chose a different route. Yet we all came together with a singular mission to write stories about Christmas and to bring the joy of Christ into each and every book. Keeping Christmas is about more than overseeing a holiday. It is looking back through the years of Christmases far and wide, from our real world through fantasy lands some of us dreamed up, and keeping the spirit of the season alive.

Come and keep Christmas with us as we journey across land and sea, through the skies on an airship, and deep into the contemporary halls and towering turrets. Here you’ll meet characters to fall in love with and read stories that span the ages, from a scribe in King Herod’s castle to a paleontologist in the Cotswolds.

My Impressions

Wow! Please don’t ask me which of the six novellas in Keeping Christmas II by Celebrate Lit authors is my fave. I may tell you, “all of them!”

I love Chautona Havig’s story, Escape to Greenaway, because Havig had me laughing within minutes of starting the novella. Snarky, unlikable characters transform into caring friends when trapped in a castle during a snowstorm.

From there, I entered a totally different world, Tabitha Bouldin’s historical steampunk tale, The King’s Promise. Yet, it was so much fun to read about a forbidden match, and a competition to find the new queen of the realm. I love the direction Bouldin takes the novella.

Susan K Beatty’s contribution, A Castle for Christmas, is enjoyable as we see two people of opposite thinking start to work together for a common goal. I appreciated the emphasis on prayers by the two main characters. They both took their problems and worries to God, as we should.

An Irish Christmas Heart by Jennifer Siennes shows the historical conflict between the English and the Irish. Mrs. Doyle wins my vote for best supporting character of the book. She is a spiritual mentor, wise, loving, and able to get involved in others’ lives without being a busybody.

In Melissa Wardwell’s story, Christmas at Curwood’s Castle, a party at a local castle is the backdrop for the reunion of two lifelong friends. This one had a few unexpected twists and played out differently than I had imagined.

One of the most romantic was penned by the late Stacy T Simmons. A paleontologist falls for a Duke she meets while on holiday in the Cotswolds. I loved seeing Victoria able to mix business and pleasure, and do her job well. The dreaminess evoked by this couple make the novella a fave.

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. I also bought a copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Just a great, feel-good, faith-filled Christmas read!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 16

Through the Lens of Scripture, November 17

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 18

By the Book, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 19

deb’s Book Review, November 20

Blogging With Carol, November 20

Texas Book-aholic, November 21

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 22

For Him and My Family, November 22

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 23

Older & Smarter?, November 24

Mary Hake, November 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 25

She Lives To Read, November 26

Holly’s Book Corner, November 26

Simple Harvest Reads, November 27 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Splashes of Joy, November 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 28

Writing From the Heart Land, November 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 29

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, the Celebrate Lit Authors are giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/22acd/keeping-christmas-volume-two-by-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, Purchase

Keeping Christmas Vol. I by Celebrate Lit Authors Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Keeping Christmas Volume 1

Authors: Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Olivia Talbott, Kathleen J. Robison, Denise L. Barela, Marguerite Martin Gray, and Naomi Craig.

Genre: Christian Christmas Romance

Release date: October 4, 2022

In castles far and near, long ago and yesterday, find happily-ever-afters wrapped in love and tied with Christmas joy.

The Lights of Castlebourne (by Cathe Swanson and Chautona Havig): He bowled her over at first sight–his dog, that is. Sydney just wanted a chance to do the landscape design at Castlebourne. She never dreamed the owner’s electrician would light up her heart at Christmas.

The Girl From Dalarna (by Olivia Talbott):She’s the most beautiful woman in Sweden, but she doesn’t want to be. A simple life among milk cows is all she desires. Will a scandal upend her plans and ruin her chances for love?

The Cross at Morioka Castle (by Kathleen J. Robison): In the ancient land of shoji screens and tatami mats, Ariko finds the stone ruins of Morioka Castle, and the mysterious cross that holds the secret of a Christian faith extending far deeper than Ariko ever imagined.

The Ghost of Christmas… (by Denise L. Barela):Abbigayl needs to get away for Christmas this year. No family, no questions about why she’s still single, no suggestion about being set up with someone’s friend. What will happen when Neuschwanstein Castle’s past converges with Abbigayl’s future?

Crystal Clear (by Marguerite Martin Gray):Rosalind’s muddied past and foggy future crystalize in Château Chenonceau, a refuge from gossip and more. Watch as the château and Christmas work their magic and break the bonds of propriety, and rejoice as Rosalind experiences the crystal-clear hints of peace, joy, and hope all around her.

The Weary World Rejoices (by Naomi Craig):Behind the elaborate furnishings of Herod the Great’s palace, conspiracy and distrust run rampant. Mysterious visitors from the east challenge everything Amal thinks he knows as palace scribe. Will his quest to uncover the Truth free him from the ornate shackles of palace life, or will he be the next victim of King Herod’s maniacal jealousy?

Grab a mug of something hot and delicious and curl up somewhere comfy. Your literary chariots await to take you on a journey from an early twentieth-century castle overlooking the Mississippi all the way back to the Holy Land at the time of Jesus’ birth. These six novellas, all set in castles real and fictional, celebrate the heart and joy of Christmas.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Authors

USA Today Bestselling author of Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

Cathe Swanson writes books with creative plots and engaging characters of all ages, to glorify God and entertain and bless readers. Her heartwarming stories will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.

Olivia Talbott grew up in Montana, but currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two daughters, a few sheep and a border collie. She loves words, traveling, pickles and having deep conversations about how Jesus changes everything. Visit her at oliviatalbott.com.

Kathleen J. Robison is an Okinawan-American, born in Okinawa, and raised in California, Florida, Mississippi, and Singapore. Her travels and her family are the sources of her inspiration for her books. Kathleen and her Pastor husband have eight adult children. Seven are married, blessing them with eighteen grandchildren and counting. Her ethnically diverse background extends to her family of currently thirty-five personalities which provide many opportunities to share God’s amazing love amidst the challenges of real life.

Denise L. Barela is a twenty-something-year-old writer with a passion for fiction, her faith, and just being creative in general. When she’s not working away at her desk, you might find her reading a good book or following Alice down the rabbit hole…

Marguerite Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband in north Louisiana. She writes historical fiction.

Author of Biblical fiction, avid reader, pastor’s wife, Naomi Craig loves reading the Bible and imagining how things were at the time. When she’s not serving in various areas at church, trying to stay on top of mountains of dishes or convincing her rescue dog, Freeway, to be cute on command for Instagram reels, you’ll most likely find her enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee. Naomi co-hosts #BehindTheStory with Naomi and Lisa, an author interview show on YouTube and your podcast platform of choice.

More from Denise

Hello everyone!

I’m excited to share this set of stories with you! All the authors have worked hard to bring you some Christmas joy and magic. We’ve each picked a castle to center our stories around. I mean, Christmas and castles go well together, don’t you think? You’ll get to explore different castles in different time periods while also getting to know all the characters in each story. That’s a lot of new friends to make!

For my story, I jumped on the chance to write about a castle that inspired the castle that always brought me joy growing up (if I’m being honest, it still brings me joy). I’ve always been a huge Disney nerd, and Princess Aurora has always been my favorite Disney princess. Growing up, I was blessed to be able to visit Disneyland for most of my life, and Sleeping Beauty’s castle was my favorite thing (I was so sad when they closed the walk-through part for several years). Even without the attraction part of it, I loved walking into the park and seeing it stand at the end of Main Street. I actually teared up seeing it for the first time after Covid.

What does all this have to do with my castle story? Well, in 1869, King Ludwig II of Bavaria began construction on Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Let me tell you, if you thought Disneyland’s castle was beautiful, it’s got nothing on Neuschwanstein. If I were to pick a castle to live in, it’d be this one.

Setting aside the Disney connection, I was even more intrigued when I learned more about the king who commissioned it. The king was not very popular towards the end of his reign, and the day after he was sent to Berg Castle, he and a doctor were found dead in Lake Starnberg. The weird part? They ruled it a drowning, but there was no water in their lungs and clear signs of foul play.

Oh, but that’s not the only interesting fact this castle houses. This castle became a hiding place for some of the art the Nazi’s stole during World War II. Part of me wonders if any pieces are still hidden there. The Monuments Men group actually cataloged art found there, and it’s been preserved. Here’s a fun article from The Met all about it!

I hope you enjoyed learning about the castle that inspired my story!

My Impressions

Not sure what to read for Christmas? May I suggest Keeping Christmas, Vol I, is a good place to start? You’ll get castles, dogs, soba, laughter, tears, intrigue, and faith all in one book!

Chautona Havig’s name drew me in. Anything she writes is truly fun, attention-grabbing, and truth-filled. In The Lights of Castleberry, Havig and Cathe Swanson team up to produce a young landscaper who tries to convince a modern castle owner to let her beautify the grounds. Sydney and Philip fall in love, but miscommunication and Sydney’s failure to stand up for herself threaten their happiness. Meanwhile, Sydney’s cousin Arielle pushes Mark into sharing more than his curmudgeon spirit is willing. This is a story to come, hopefully!

Another of the novellas that intrigued me was The Cross at Morioko Castle by Kathleen J Robison. Set in Japan and containing several Japanese words, I didn’t connect with the characters at first, but kept reading. Soon, I found myself ensnared in the saga of a young Japanese Christian girl, whose rich great-grandmother wants to make amends before dying. Can Ariko stay true to the faith and follow Obaachan’s demands? What about the mysterious Kai? Is he all he claims to be? I loved the legend, the samurai, and even the business dealings. And God’s placement of people at just the right time and place!

The last novella that I want to highlight closes the book, and how fitting! You may think you’ve heard the Christmas story a million times, but until you see it through Amal’s eyes, you are missing something! My heart rejoiced along with Amal’s by the conclusion of this novella. The Weary World Rejoices by Naomi Craig is Biblical fiction that will make you shiver, review Scripture, cry, cheer, evaluate how you treat Scripture (all while being an unputdownable story)!

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. I also bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! I have found at least one story I want to read multiple times before Christmas, plus several new-to-me authors to add to my staggering TBR!!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 20

Through the Lens of Scripture, October 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 21

Texas Book-aholic, October 22

For Him and My Family, October 22

deb’s Book Review, October 23

Inklings and notions, October 24

Holly’s Book Corner, October 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 25

Lots of Helpers, October 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 27

By the Book, October 28

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 28

She Lives To Read, October 29

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 30

Mary Hake, October 30

Blogging With Carol, October 31

Simple Harvest Reads, November 1 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Literature Approved, November 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 2

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, the Celebrate Lit Authors are giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/2224d/keeping-christmas-volume-one-by-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, Purchase

Book, Chapters, Vows by Chautona Havig

About the Book

Book: Book, Chapter, & Vows

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: July 26, 2022

Falling in love with Benjamin wasn’t in the plan, but Mallory finds she’s all but lost her head and her heart after two and a half years of banter, memories, and now shared books.

But when her ex-fiance (does it count if it was just for a few hours?) shows up right in the middle of a writing project with Benjamin, the guy manages to ruin her happiness… again.

Benjamin has been keeping one tiny part of him back from Mallory–just the one thing that’ll repel her for good.
So when the ex-boyfriend-slash-fiance shows up, and things look serious again, he takes a giant step back and prays he can keep his heart intact in the process.

They’re clearly meant for each other. God obviously has a plan. So what’s it going to take for Mallory and Benjamin to work things out and get those vows made?

This Breakers Head novel is Chautona Havig’s final book in the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Say the hard things. Admit the faults, choose to make the sacrifices, step out in faith.”

A lady after my own heart, who loves books, coffee,( and other hot drinks) and loves to sell them together! Mallory Barrows is struggling to make her dream of a small bookmobile/ hot drink shop on the islands a reality. Now she has finally fallen for islander Benjamin Hornigold, a young friend of her beloved uncle Bud. Benjamin loves Mallory enough to do almost anything for her- except bare his soul of the secret that could separate them.

Chautona Havig invites us to slow down and return to life on Independence Islands, where Mallory Barrows is hoping for that big question from her true love, Benjamin. But deep-seated fears in both Mallory and Benjamin could overpower their love as a new threat or two lingers on the horizon. Will a joint project of love and some negative examples from the past be enough combined with faith and prayer to see these lovers united, or are they destined to a repeat their loved ones’ examples?

The quote at the top expresses one of the basic truths of the novel. So many to be gleaned from a Havig book. Another truth Havig’s characters are confronted with, one it took me years to learn, is this one:

“the Lord blesses our service however we offer it, but that doesn’t mean that every job is ours to do. He said sometimes we need to step aside because that frees up the work for the person the Lord has planned for it, and it frees us to do the work He has planned for us. I never saw it that way.” So happy Mallory and Benjamin could learn this early in life! It will save them a lot of frustration, thinking they are serving the Lord, when He may have other people better equipped for the job.

And Havig always makes me smile! “Is that what you get with a degree and success? A masters in rudeness?” This is especially potent as it applies to the characters’ situations.

Bottom line: if it’s a Havig novel you’re considering, buy it!! One read won’t do it justice. Considering the spiritual and wisdom value of this book, coupled with the entertainment value, I give it five stars!

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“I plan to live the story in my heart. That’s how I best tell a story, lovey.”

“If the primary love of your life isn’t Jesus, you’ll fail the one you vow to love until death.”

‘…the lessons you learned don’t change based on the number of years you’ve been married. Truth is truth.’”

“But if you go through life as if everything you say and do is part of some checklist to godliness and marital bliss, you’ll miss out on the bold, daring life God has given us.”

“But I don’t think we should treat people like only their mistakes define them.”

“It will hurt. Change is just hard and it stinks. But sometimes we have to do the hard things.”

“Then a new character arrived on the scene. It walked over to guilt and elbowed guilt out of the way as if to say, “I’m determination, and I outrank you.’

“…every time you give in to those impulses, they become more frequent and more intense than the last. It’s harder to break the habit than it is to fight the temptation to let it form.’”

“You can’t fix it.”

… “But you can start fresh—like Anne Shirley—a new day with no mistakes in it.”

“His mercies,” Benjamin began. “‘They are new every morning.’”

About the Author

“Say the hard things. Admit the faults, choose to make the sacrifices, step out in faith.”

A lady after my own heart, who loves books, coffee,( and other hot drinks) and loves to sell them together! Mallory Barrows is struggling to make her dream of a small bookmobile/ hot drink shop on the islands a reality. Now she has finally fallen for islander Benjamin Hornigold, a young friend of her beloved uncle Bud. Benjamin loves Mallory enough to do almost anything for her- except bare his soul of the secret that could separate them.

Chautona Havig invites us to slow down and return to life on Independence Islands, where Mallory Barrows is hoping for that big question from her true love, Benjamin. But deep-seated fears in both Mallory and Benjamin could overpower their love as a new threat or two lingers on the horizon. Will a joint project of love and some negative examples from the past be enough combined with faith and prayer to see these lovers united, or are they destined to a repeat their loved ones’ examples?

The quote at the top expresses one of the basic truths of the novel. So many to be gleaned from a Havig book. Another truth Havig’s characters are confronted with, one it took me years to learn, is this one:

“the Lord blesses our service however we offer it, but that doesn’t mean that every job is ours to do. He said sometimes we need to step aside because that frees up the work for the person the Lord has planned for it, and it frees us to do the work He has planned for us. I never saw it that way.” So happy Mallory and Benjamin could learn this early in life! It will save them a lot of frustration, thinking they are serving the Lord, when He may have other people better equipped for the job.

And Havig always makes me smile! “Is that what you get with a degree and success? A masters in rudeness?” This is especially potent as it applies to the characters’ situations.

Bottom line: if it’s a Havig novel you’re considering, buy it!! One read won’t do it justice. Considering the spiritual and wisdom value of this book, coupled with the entertainment value, I give it five stars!

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“I plan to live the story in my heart. That’s how I best tell a story, lovey.”

“If the primary love of your life isn’t Jesus, you’ll fail the one you vow to love until death.”

‘…the lessons you learned don’t change based on the number of years you’ve been married. Truth is truth.’”

“But if you go through life as if everything you say and do is part of some checklist to godliness and marital bliss, you’ll miss out on the bold, daring life God has given us.”

“But I don’t think we should treat people like only their mistakes define them.”

“It will hurt. Change is just hard and it stinks. But sometimes we have to do the hard things.”

“Then a new character arrived on the scene. It walked over to guilt and elbowed guilt out of the way as if to say, “I’m determination, and I outrank you.’

“…every time you give in to those impulses, they become more frequent and more intense than the last. It’s harder to break the habit than it is to fight the temptation to let it form.’”

“You can’t fix it.”

… “But you can start fresh—like Anne Shirley—a new day with no mistakes in it.”

“His mercies,” Benjamin began. “‘They are new every morning.’”

More from Chautona

It Happened AGAIN!

I remember the first book I had trouble finishing. Beneath the Cloak. It was the last book of the Wynnewood series, and I was dying to reveal the big secret that had been a big part of the story line. I spent hours writing very few words. Someone asked if I had writer’s block, but I didn’t. I knew every word I wanted to put on that page, but I kept procrastinating.

For weeks. We’re talking long, agonizing weeks.

Finally, I realized a significant part of why I hadn’t finished was because I didn’t want to. I didn’t want the series to end. Say goodbye to beloved characters? Agony, okay? I wanted to spend the rest of my life in Wynnewood seeing what happened with all the characters and all the things that would happen.

I just wanted to write a bunch of other books, too. What can I say? It’s a thing.

So, as I dove into writing the book I’ve been dying to write since I penned the opening scene of Christmas on Breakers Point, you’d think I’d have been prepared for the inevitable. I mean, it’s happened with several other series since that first time, so… yeah. All ready to combat the problem, right? Not hardly.

To be fair, I was also coming off being very sick, my mother being even sicker, so being crazy behind on everything. I mean, that had a lot to do with it taking so long to get going on it. But once I did, I’d type like crazy and then ignore it for a day or two before the story demanded more telling.

Then, just as I neared the big scene of Book, Chapter, & Vows… I went nuts on doing everything but finishing that book. No joke. I did. Sigh. Again, you think I’d learn.

After much soul searching and even more wailing at God about the cruelty of it all (I was in a dramatic mood, okay?), the solution came to me. Okay, God smacked me upside the head with a 2×4 of memories on how I solved every other, “don’t wanna finish this series” crisis.

See, way back with Wynnewood, the only thing that got me to the finish line was a promise I made to myself. “It doesn’t have to end here. You can write more if you want to. There’s nothing to say you can do ‘Wynnewood, the Later Years’ or something like that.”

Just that one promise to myself that I didn’t have to say goodbye was all it took for me to get back on that trusty old Toshiba laptop and pound out those last few chapters.

And here I was again, not ready to say goodbye to a series—to these islands that feel so crazy real to me. I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters and their quirky ways. Would you?

Now… you’re going to laugh at me. Go ahead. I mean, I did. See here’s the deal. I didn’t have to make that promise to myself again. “What?” you say? “What do you mean?”

Yeah. I don’t have to say goodbye to the characters or the islands. Why? Because we have another island series coming, the Suamalie Islands, and Mallory is going to visit those islands.

If that isn’t enough for me, I have another series all planned for the Independence Islands, too! Yeah. That. I mean, what was I not thinking?

As soon as I thought of that, I was able to get in there, get the last few scenes written and pass it off to the fabulous Christy for her editorial magic. As for me, I think I’m going to go play around just a little bit with one of the Josie Parker Mysteries. I mean, why not?

It Happened AGAIN!

I remember the first book I had trouble finishing. Beneath the Cloak. It was the last book of the Wynnewood series, and I was dying to reveal the big secret that had been a big part of the story line. I spent hours writing very few words. Someone asked if I had writer’s block, but I didn’t. I knew every word I wanted to put on that page, but I kept procrastinating.

For weeks. We’re talking long, agonizing weeks.

Finally, I realized a significant part of why I hadn’t finished was because I didn’t want to. I didn’t want the series to end. Say goodbye to beloved characters? Agony, okay? I wanted to spend the rest of my life in Wynnewood seeing what happened with all the characters and all the things that would happen.

I just wanted to write a bunch of other books, too. What can I say? It’s a thing.

So, as I dove into writing the book I’ve been dying to write since I penned the opening scene of Christmas on Breakers Point, you’d think I’d have been prepared for the inevitable. I mean, it’s happened with several other series since that first time, so… yeah. All ready to combat the problem, right? Not hardly.

To be fair, I was also coming off being very sick, my mother being even sicker, so being crazy behind on everything. I mean, that had a lot to do with it taking so long to get going on it. But once I did, I’d type like crazy and then ignore it for a day or two before the story demanded more telling.

Then, just as I neared the big scene of Book, Chapter, & Vows… I went nuts on doing everything but finishing that book. No joke. I did. Sigh. Again, you think I’d learn.

After much soul searching and even more wailing at God about the cruelty of it all (I was in a dramatic mood, okay?), the solution came to me. Okay, God smacked me upside the head with a 2×4 of memories on how I solved every other, “don’t wanna finish this series” crisis.

See, way back with Wynnewood, the only thing that got me to the finish line was a promise I made to myself. “It doesn’t have to end here. You can write more if you want to. There’s nothing to say you can do ‘Wynnewood, the Later Years’ or something like that.”

Just that one promise to myself that I didn’t have to say goodbye was all it took for me to get back on that trusty old Toshiba laptop and pound out those last few chapters.

And here I was again, not ready to say goodbye to a series—to these islands that feel so crazy real to me. I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters and their quirky ways. Would you?

Now… you’re going to laugh at me. Go ahead. I mean, I did. See here’s the deal. I didn’t have to make that promise to myself again. “What?” you say? “What do you mean?”

Yeah. I don’t have to say goodbye to the characters or the islands. Why? Because we have another island series coming, the Suamalie Islands, and Mallory is going to visit those islands.

If that isn’t enough for me, I have another series all planned for the Independence Islands, too! Yeah. That. I mean, what was I not thinking?

As soon as I thought of that, I was able to get in there, get the last few scenes written and pass it off to the fabulous Christy for her editorial magic. As for me, I think I’m going to go play around just a little bit with one of the Josie Parker Mysteries. I mean, why not?

Blog Stops

An Author’s Take, August 9

Lots of Helpers, August 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 10

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 11

The Sacred Line, August 11

She Lives To Read, August 12

Texas Book-aholic, August 13

Splashes of Joy, August 13

Inklings and notions, August 14

lakesidelivingsite, August 15

For Him and My Family, August 15

LIbrary Lady’s Kid Lit, August 16

deb’s Book Review, August 17

Blogging With Carol, August 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 18

Sodbuster Living, August 18

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 19

Simple Harvest Reads, August 19 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 21

Sylvan Musings, August 21

Blossoms and Blessings, August 22

Miriam Jacob, August 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/20712/book-chapter-vows-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle

Spines and Leaves by Chautona Havig Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Spines & Leaves

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: FICTION / CHRISTIAN / WOMENS FICTION / ROMANCE

Release date: July 8, 2021

Spines-Leaves

 Books are the strings that tie hearts together. 

With a month to get from Orange County, California to Delaware for his next corporate challenge, Milton Coleridge decides to spend a week at Joshua Tree National Park.

He never expected to find a floundering bookstore in need of his particular business skills. Will his methods of saving companies from bankruptcy or takeover work on such a small scale? And can he convince two people to risk their hearts?

Step into the Spines & Leaves, Tamarisk, California’s oldest (and only ever) bookstore. Come in out of the harsh, desert sun and wind and peruse all the store has to offer. It might just be more than you think.

One man, one store, thousands of books.  What’ll it take to keep this bookstore from becoming a book ghost town… and what’ll it take for Milton to tie two heartstrings together?

Spine & Leaves is the introductory novella to the Bookstrings series.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Whew!! Spines and Leaves by Chautona Havig is a not-to-be missed, fun ride involving a barely surviving, desert bookstore. The town of Tamarisk has almost nothing going for it, with several defunct stores and a few residences in the middle of Joshua Tree National Forest. But, wait! There’s a bookstore! Only a reader would understand how strong that pull is to Milton Coleridge as he enters with his parrotlet. We meet Mercedes, the daughter of the owner, who is managing the store until her ill father can get back on his feet. We see Marcus Mendez, a police officer who hides his feelings for Mercedes as he strives to protect his heart. We begin to see the makings of a love triangle between Marcus, Mercedes, and Milton.

Chautona Havig plays this triangle up well. I wanted to choose one man over the other, but couldn’t. Just as I would choose “Team Marcus” or “Team Milton,” the other would pull ahead by some act or word.

If you’ve never read Havig’s work before, this book is a good place to start. Havig brings her signature style with literature allusions, a touch of romance, plenty of snark and wit, faith lessons, and surprising twists that will keep you reading till the last word.

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“‘Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?’”

“Just reminding myself that God’s goodness doesn’t disappear when things seem like they’re going all wrong.”

Mercedes’ heart sighed. I could have fallen for a guy like that… if stupid Marcus hadn’t been here first. Her head said she could choose to love whoever she wanted. Her heart stuck out its tongue and went, “Ptttthtt.” Heart won. Again.

Book people understand each other. There are special connections between bookworms that might exist between football fans or movie buffs, but I doubt it is the same.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Book Lover’s Paradise- both the Story and the Store!!

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author of Aggie and Past Forwardseries, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the Bookstrings series is a process rather than an idea. Each time I saw an indie bookstore close, each time I went in one with no one else in there for the hour or two I browsed, and each time I heard book lovers lament the lack of a store in their town… Yeah. Those experiences slowly grew into a wish—one where I knew how to rescue those stores from extinction. So maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but that’s how it felt.

Somewhere in the midst of all that, Milton appeared—a business genius who, along with his faithful parrotlet, Atticus (not Finch), travels the country saving corporations from takeover or bankruptcy.

Milton went through several iterations. Older, balding, mustache, and always wearing a golfer’s cap. Then I had him as a young hipster dude who got sick of the rat race on Wall Street and took off on his own, using what he’d learned. That just felt too cliché.

Instead, I have a forty-ish guy who wears chinos and oxford shirts with topsiders, shorter than most men, and with a nonchalant air about him. And charm. The quiet guy with serious business skills just oozes quiet charm.

After deciding on Milton, I had to choose where to put the stores. I’ve been watching out for towns for years—using trips different places as research times. Would I create places that felt like real towns or use actual small towns? Though drawn to real towns, I had an idea for where to end the series, and, doing that meant a fictional town. Would it be weird to have four or five books set in small towns across America followed by a final fictional one?

The solution came to me as I learned that the Mosaic authors were doing a summer collection in 2021. If I started with a novella and ended the series with both in a fictional town, at least that fictional bit wouldn’t be out of the blue!

So, the Bookstrings series has two novellas and five full-length novels. (I couldn’t resist a Christmas “noella” in the charming town of Noel, Missouri—the “Christmas City.”) We’ll be off to other small towns around the country—one in Red Wing, Minnesota, another in Berne, Indiana, and one somewhere between Kingsport, Tennessee and Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina. If I can find a place in New England, that’d be great, too. Or maybe down in Mississippi… I’d love to visit my sister down there.

The Bookstrings series books all have one very important thing in common (aside from Milton and Atticus, of course). They all illustrate that books truly are the strings that tie hearts together.

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 26

Texas Book-aholic, April 26

Lots of Helpers, April 27

Mary Hake, April 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 28

By the Book, April 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 29

The Avid Reader, April 30

Vicky Sluiter, May 1

For Him and My Family, May 2

Miriam Jacob, May 2

Inklings and notions, May 3

Blogging With Carol, May 4

deb’s Book Review, May 4

She Lives To Read, May 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 6

Simple Harvest Reads, May 6 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 7

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 8

Pause for Tales, May 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1d0b3/spines-leaves-celebration-tour-giveaway

Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, Purchase

Finding a Memory by Chautona Havig Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Finding a Memory

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: January 25, 2022

Sparrow-HAVIG-Finding-a-Memory-663x1024

He loved her then. Will she love him now?

When Mallory Barrows finds an old diary in a box of books, the story she finds within sends her on the hunt for the owner–and maybe more.

Theirs is a story ripped from a country song. A wedding, a former love presumed dead, her new love stepping aside. And over forty years later, their story is one few remember.

With Mallory determined to find the people in the pages of that diary, one couple is offered the second chance of a lifetime.

This “second-chance / seasoned romance” novel introduces the next island in the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

I was a weird child. While my friends were listening to… whatever 80s kids listened to, the enormous console in my bedroom played The Brothers Four, The Kingston Trio, Roger Miller, Billy Vaughn, Patsy Cline, and Patti Paige.  One minute I was a “Rovin’ Gambler” and the next I was “Chug-a-lugging.”  Hmmm… In hindsight, one could say I listened to some dubious music. Drinking, gambling… Oh, that reminds me of another one. The Sons of the Pioneers.  “Cigarettes, Whiskey, and Wild, Wild Women. (Hint: they’ll drive you crazy. They’ll drive you insane.  The song says so).

But there were other songs—beautiful ones.  “Greenfields.” “Little Green Apples.” “You Belong to Me.”  And of course… “Go on with the Wedding.”

If you’ve never heard it, you should listen. HERE.

That one used to tear me apart.  I never could decide which man she should have chosen.  I’m a sucker for the underdog—for a hero.  So, I always said Fred.  And I meant it. Right up to the moment I thought about Jim being away, fighting, finally making it home to his girl only to see her marry someone else.  How horrible is that?

Well, one of the tropes I chose for my books in the Independence Islands was going to be a “second chance romance.” I also wanted a “seasoned romance,” so this song came to mind. And then I had my story.  It’s not the one my twelve-year-old self would have wanted.  Truthfully, it’s not the story I wanted to write today, but it’s the right one. It’s probably my favorite of all of the ones I’ve done in this series.  I hope you’ll love Frank and Patti as much as I do.

All that’s left now is for me to write one more story—the one that has been forming through each book. It’s time for Mallory and Benjamin to both learn and write their story’s end (which of course, is only a beginning).

My Impressions

Chautona Havig has gotten me loving contemporary romance (not my fave genre), loving a song too old for me to like, and one I don’t even know! Oh, wait! I do remember looking it up and listening to it. The things a great author can do to you against your will!!

Finding a Memory by Chautona Havig first appealed to me because it was clear it featured older characters in a second-chance relationship. Part of the Independence Islands series, I enjoyed the book more because I was familiar with the other main couple who have been mentioned in past books.

Much of the book is presented as a mystery, as Mallory Barrows, owner of The Book Barrow, reads an old diary she finds. If you like The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, you will enjoy this novel. As the diary progresses, Mallory gets very emotionally involved in the lives of the people described. I couldn’t help myself. I was just as emotionally involved, but also in the lives of Mallory and her slow-moving boyfriend, Benjamin.

Ms. Havig always finds a way and the perfect time to insert truth. One time when the diarist was at her lowest, she writes, “This is what I learned. * God knows everything. * I don’t know everything. * I can trust God. * I have to seek Him first. * People will fail me. * God never will. * My job is to love God and others. * I must teach my child about God. * Jesus is my rock. Not …”
Another favorite quote, so appropriate for what the character was going through: “The Lord had other plans that I don’t understand, but I do trust Him.”

One last (but these are not all) reason why I love this novel and all of Ms. Havig’s books- her sense of humor and ability to turn a phrase that never fails to make me smile. Which she does often! My fave example here? “That machine makes enough noise to make mummies in sarcophaguses plead for earplugs.”

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I also bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! I Liked This Against My Will!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 26

Blossoms and Blessings, February 26

Texas Book-aholic, February 27

She Lives to Read, February 28

An Author’s Take, February 28

Inklings and notions, March 1

CarpeDiem, March 1

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 2

Lots of Helpers, March 2

For Him and My Family, March 3

Blogging With Carol, March 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 4

deb’s Book Review, March 5

Simple Harvest Reads, March 5 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 7

Splashes of Joy, March 7

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, March 8

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 9 (Spotlight)

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 9

lakesidelivingsite, March 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1b05c/finding-a-memory-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, Purchase

The Nutcracker’s Suite by Chautona Havig Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Nutcracker’s Suite

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Christmas Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: November 26, 2021

Nutcracker

“Time to dance, sugarplum.”

A painter at the Meyer’s Toys factory, Clarice Stahl, knows something is
strange about the way so many men come and go through Mr. Meyer’s
office, especially one in particular.

Then murder strikes a little too close to home and uncorks a barrel of
secrets.

When mob king, Mario Topo’s, enforcer goes missing the race is on to
prove he’s behind the murder. Police and mobsters alike are after Milo
Natale and he who finds Milo first might determine the enforcer’s fate.

A race through the city, a new friend… or more… a new life in the
offing. Milo and Clarice must find who killed Topo’s man and why before
the police arrest him for murder or Topo’s men bump him and Clarice off,
too.

This next book in the Ever After Mysteries combines “The Nutcracker
Suite” with a murder mystery set in the heart of 1920s Rockland.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Totally Terrific!! Chautona Havig can write any genre she undertakes. In The Nutcracker’s Suite, though, she outdoes herself in presenting a suspenseful mystery mashing together a retelling of the Nutcracker, a 1920s Prohibition mob mix-up, and a romance with faith interspersed. I was glued to my seat until I finished, at turns laughing out loud and terrified. I get the distinct impression the author is having a blast with the creation of this story! As a result, the reader has a rollicking good time.
I’ve read several Havig novels, and The Nutcracker’s Suite just vaulted to the top and into my list of Top Ten CF Novels of 2021!! The mystery kept me guessing and I never did quite figure it out!! Well-done!! I must admit, I loved Havig’s use of sarcasm, especially as it relates to Clarice’s thoughts. I hope there will be a book for Lily in the future.

I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“His ability to think dashed out and into the street where he was certain, it would be run over by a police car.”

“The lies are piling up faster than finished nutcrackers.”

“Did she just lie with the truth?”

“Not married, but I’ll remember that if I ever find a nice girl.” He didn’t say, “like you,” but Milo heard it and wanted to tie the man’s throat in a knot for it.”

“Keep her safe. If you aren’t a man of faith, become one and then pray until you can’t think anymore, but keep her safe.” It was a fool’s promise, but Milo made it. “I will.”

“…feelings always demanded an audience, even at the expense of truth.”

“Topo. It means mouse. I’m the attic mouse.”

“Every word the man spoke sat on a paragraph of threats.”

“People dying have a way of interfering with one’s shopping.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! A Rollicking Good Time IF You Survive Suspense

About the Author

Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours, and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

Here Are Several Fun Facts & a Secret about The Nutcracker’s Suite

You’d think that while writing a book based on the fairy tale of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, I’d have heard “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in my head as I wrote. Well, I guess for a brief moment I did, because at some point, someone actually says that. “Dance, sugar plum!”

But Tchaikovsky isn’t who played in my head as I wrote. Over and over, word after word, my fingers did their bourres and glissades across my keyboard to one, rather unexpected song. “Ballerina” (I prefer the version sung by Buddy Clark. You can listen HERE.)

However, there are so many elements of the original ballet’s story in mine. I thought I’d share a few of them.

Let’s talk about the cast of characters.

Clarice Stahl is our “leading lady.” It’s kind of obvious where I got her name since the original character was Clara Stahlbaum.

Clarice works for Mr. Dieter Meyer, the owner of Meyer’s Toys. He gives her the job of painting nutcrackers. So, it’s not too difficult to see the connection to Uncle Drosselmeyer who gives Clara the nutcracker, no?

All of 1925 Rockland is in the clutches of mob king, Mario Topo. For those not fluent in Italian, can you guess what “topo” is in that language? Remember… he’s the mob “king.” 😉

But I think my favorite name of all is Emiliano (I call him Milo) Natale (Christmas in Italian… just sayin’) who is known as “the nutcracker.” He’s an enforcer for Mr. Topo, and that means he squeezes people until they crack and do what Topo wants. Let’s hope he repents!

Yes, I had a boatload of fun coming up with this stuff! How’d you guess?

I have a secret to confess about this book. I’m writing this post when I’m only about a quarter of the way done. I went to get the synopsis for this tour and went, “oops!” You see, I forgot that I’d planned to make Milo going missing a big part of the plot.

Guess who has to flex? I’d better get back to it. They need to figure out who killed our victim… and why. And before Clarice is next!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 26

Blogging With Carol, November 26

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

For the Love of Literature, November 28

By the Book, November 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 29

Inklings and notions, November 29

For Him and My Family, November 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, November 30

deb’s Book Review, December 1

Bizwings Blog, December 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 2

Genesis 5020, December 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 3

Simple Harvest Reads, December 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Connie’s History Classroom, December 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 4

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 5

Connect in Fiction, December 5

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 6

Mary Hake, December 6

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 7

Through the fire blogs, December 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Lots of Helpers, December 8

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 9 (Author Interview)

Back Porch Reads, December 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away to three winners one Prize box each including a paperback of The Nutcracker’s Suite, themed goodies, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card in each!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/13cfb/the-nutcracker-s-suite-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite

Penelope’s Pursuit by Chautona Havig Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Penelope’s Pursuit

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense

Release date: June 29, 2021

Are mail-order-brides changing their minds or is something sinister going on in Kansas?

Ten years ago, Penelope’s sister ran away as a mail-order bride, and it was the last their family ever heard from her.  Now, with their parents dead and Penelope all alone, the young woman has one goal. Find her sister.

It took enough grit for Henry to write to Miss Mildred Crenshaw about finding him a wife in the first place, but when the stage arrives and no bride steps off, the whole thing feels like a confidence scheme. Investigation, however, sends chills down his spine as he realizes women are leaving the east for the west but many never arrive at their destinations.

Is it any wonder that Penelope doesn’t trust the man who abducts her from the clutches of her new friends and rides off into the sunset? Is his explanation reasonable?  Can she convince him to help her find her sister?

And is she about to fall in love with a homesteader on the untamed prairies of Kansas?

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

Mail Order Brides: Do We Romanticize the Past?

Although I recall reading about mail-order brides in school… somewhere… Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall was my first introduction to the idea of advertising for or requesting the services of a matchmaker to find a wife. The book and the subsequent movie showed the difficulties of such a marriage and left us all with a satisfactory ending.

Some years later, while doing a bit of research, I discovered another side of the coin—a horrifying picture of what happened to some gullible young women and the unscrupulous people who used such matchmaking schemes as a means for human trafficking. It sickened me, as it should anyone.

All my ideas for mail order bride novels ended up as wadded up balls of mental paper and in the wastepaper basket of my mind. A few years passed, and I came up with a twist on mail order brides, one that will see the light of day if I ever have time to write it. A few more years passed, and a series of books featuring a matchmaking service for mail-order brides and the Homestead Act resurrected those ideas. I smoothed a couple out, reconsidered, and decided against writing them.

I’d have to miss the opportunity to join the series.

My mind never does follow orders well. Within minutes of that decision, I had a story. What would happen if there was some funny business going on with girls going west? How could I combine a satisfactory ending where two people came to a meeting of the minds and hearts in the midst of fighting something that ugly?

Penelope’s Pursuit was born.

Is my story idealized? Probably. I’ll be frank with you. I’m okay with that, too. See, sometimes all we need is a reminder that mankind is sinful and in need of a Savior before the story turns into how things should have been. After all, fiction mirrors reality, but it is also an escape.

I hope Penelope’s escape to the west and her pursuit of her sister encourages you to turn to the Lord for every decision, in every trouble, and with every praise possible in between.

My Impressions

“Penny will always be pretty because she does some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.” I love this line in Penelope’s Pursuit by Chautona Havig. So many people today base their self-image on how they look. But one point Havig makes clear is that beauty comes from within and spreads outward.

There’s just something about mail-order bride stories that appeals to a great audience. The western factor. The unknown. The strangers-to lovers trope.

Chautona Havig sets out to satisfy that reading itch, but also has another purpose in mind: showing that alongside all the romance we assign this genre and period, there was a dark side. Sometimes mail-order brides were used as another way to further nefarious activities that we think of as modern-day issues. Solomon says, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

I loved the tone that Havig sets for this book. I found Penelope very easy to identify with, and Reuben is a gem! Both are stubborn, but with good hearts. Their care for others drives them to do unusual things that they wouldn’t otherwise dream of doing. How many of us can say we love others that well?

Havig carefully weaves her faith message into the story in snippets, and it doesn’t feel preachy, but natural.

I was so thankful to see that there are two more mail-order bride books by Havig to come, as she set the bait quite nicely.

If you enjoy westerns, mail-order bride stories, realistic historical romances and tales with faith interwoven, you might enjoy Penelope’s Pursuit as much as I did.

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. All opinions are my own, voluntarily given.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Truly a Different side to the usual Mail-order Bride story!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 9

Blogging With Carol, October 9

Texas Book-aholic, October 10

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 11

Inklings and notions, October 11

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 12

Lots of Helpers, October 13

For Him and My Family, October 13

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 14

deb’s Book Review, October 15

Joanne Markey, October 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 17

Mary Hake, October 17

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, October 18 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, October 19

Vicky Sluiter, October 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 20

Connie’s History Classroom, October 21

Blossoms and Blessings, October 21

Splashes of Joy, October 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11fe1/penelope-s-pursuit-celebration-tour-giveaway

Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite

Hashtag Rogue (Agency Files #5) by Chautona Havig

HashtagRogue-banner

 About the Book 

Book: Hashtag Rogue

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Suspense

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Something is terribly wrong in The Agency. Again.    48055616._SY475_

Flynne Dortmann: computer specialist extraordinaire. The right arm of every agent in The Agency. And totally untrained for agent duty.

So when no one takes a threat seriously, Flynne does the only thing she can think of.

With money she has no authorization to use, a gun she’s never fired in her hip pocket, and more zip-ties than any agent should be allowed to carry, Flynne takes on protective detail for an unwilling client. #Rogue.

Mark Cho hasn’t had a chance to get used to being Marco Mendina—head of the Eastern US Agency. Not only that, every sign points to someone knowing he isn’t who he appears to be. His agency is in trouble.  His agents may be in danger, and with an office girl gone rogue, deciding what problem to tackle first is a problem in itself.

Not to mention, he misses his office assistant with her emoji-speak, killer tech skills, and sharp instincts.

 

Click here to grab your copy!

My Review 

Hashtag Rogue, by Chautona Havig, is a very unique Christian Romantic Suspense novel. When her secret agent boss doesn’t act to protect a coworker, valley girl/teen slang slinger Flynne Dortmann acts solo. What a wild ride this is! At times I was confused, which I believe could have been avoided by reading previous books in the series. On the other hand, it is a good author who can weave a crooked trail to land a believable ending. Sometimes a narrative simply needs time to play out, when it all makes sense. I would say this book can stand alone on that premise.

Coolio
Two things I do know. One is that I will be hunting down the rest of The Agency series.
The second? Chautona Havig can allow real subject matter( violence, swearing, gangs, human trafficking) in her books while still being very uplifting. Not only does Havig talk seamlessly about faith, but her real sound bites on swearing are hilarious. «  A sailor’s dictionary of unsavory words flew at him… » and
« …until Mark had exhausted his supply of swearing— both foreign and domestic. » I doubled over from these descriptions as Havig creatively expressed her characters’ blue language.
#Gobuythisbooknow
#Ilovedit
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit and the author. This did not affect my opinions, which are my own.

My Rating

5 Stars = Superior Reading

About the Author  

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look  Chautona-240x300startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

Read an Excerpt

Erika ordered her eyes to open. They declined the offer. Once more, and with as much of a mental drill sergeant tone as she could muster, she demanded the possibility of sight.

Neither eyelid gave so much as a twitch.

Resigned, she then tried to ascertain the reason for said incorporation by the lids of her eyes. Her brain, too, had gone AWOL. White noise replaced rational thought, grit, replaced natural eye moisture, and if the sensation coming from her tongue could be trusted, she’d transformed into a cottonmouth.

Except that I can’t slither. I know I can’t.

That, Erika decided, was improvement. It just had to be rational thought. Oh, God please.

A question arose. Do I pray? The moment she asked, Erika nodded—inwardly, anyway. I do. Not sure since when… maybe that’ll come next.

Clarity formed when a voice broke through what might or might not have been consciousness. “Oh, thank whatever you’re supposed to thank—don’t want to be, like, totes offensive if I’m not supposed to say, ‘God,’ but I was afraid you had flat-lined.”

“Flynne?”

“Yay! She lives!”

Why do I feel like that’s supposed to be “He lives?”

“So, can you sit up if I help you?”

Bile churned in Erika’s gut. Her eyes felt like they bugged, but she wasn’t even confident she could see anymore. Then Flynne’s purple, green, and blue hair came into view. She glared, wrestling her mouth into contortions and fighting back the urge to vomit. “Please!”

It came out more like, “Mmmweeeeeffff”

“Can’t understand you.” Flynne’s eyes narrowed.

Perspiration formed on Erika’s forehead, neck, and in every other uncomfortable place. Cold, clammy perspiration.

“Do you promise not to scream if I take this off?” She tapped the tape.

Erika just nodded with vehemence that nearly lost her what breakfast she’d eaten.

Again, Flynne’s eyes grew even narrower than the first time. “Okay…” Eyes wide, the girl ripped off her high-top converse and pulled a sock from her foot. “So help me, if you scream, I’m stuffing this in your mouth—supes gross.” She wriggled it for effect—just in case Erika didn’t catch the utter disgustingness of it.

Once more, Erika nodded and pleaded. You’re so going to regret threatening me with that.

If Satan wanted to recruit torturers to relieve demons, Flynne would have been perfect for the job. She worked the tiniest corner of the duct tape free. Erika choked and grimaced. She jerked her head hard to the right. Flynne stared. Once more, she jerked it.

“You want me to rip it off? That’ll hurt!”

But the moment Flynne said “rip,” Erika began bobbing her head fast enough to ensure she drowned in vomit within seconds. Flynne had mad ripping skills, however. In less than three seconds, the tape jerked free—and so did the contents of Erika’s stomach.

All over Flynne’s bare foot and Converse shoes. The moment she stopped heaving, Erika glared up at the girl and moaned, “That’s payback for this.”

The battle of the glares began. Flynne broke the silence that followed first. “If you weren’t Keith’s girlfriend and religious, I’d swear at you. Consider yourself cussed out.” Before Erika could choose between the half-dozen scathing remarks fighting for preeminence, Flynne froze. “Wait. You called me, like, every name in the book. I thought you religious people couldn’t do that!”

The churning began again. “I did?” If she could have gagged, she would have. If she could have puked she might have. “Do I want to know what I said?”

Without hesitation, Flynne rattled off every inappropriate word Erika had spent the last few months working to eradicate from her vocabulary. “Then you got all sesquipedalian on me.”

“Sesquatch-what?”

Flynne turned a little green herself as the stench of partially digested breakfast assaulted her olfactory system. “Sesquipedalian.” At Erika’s doubtful look, Flynne went into action. She removed her other shoe, disappeared outside, returned with clean feet and ready to do business. “For your information it’s a big word that means, ‘a big word.’”

“No offense, Flynne, but you aren’t exactly known for your erudition.”

The girl gave a fine imitation of a puppy cocking its head—a blue, green, and purple-haired puppy. “That’s not one of the word-of-the-day words I’ve had. C’mon… let’s get you cleaned up and inside.”

She peeked her head outside, scanned the area, and looked back at Erika. “No one’s in the neighborhood that I can tell, but you’d be smart not to go all screamo on me or anything that would call the cops.”

“And why’s that?”

Flynne tried to be surreptitious, but Erika caught her eying a white Camry on the other side of the garage before answering, “Because I can get you out of here before they arrive, and you don’t want to be awake when I’m driving fast.”

Something deep in her gut—something other than the renewed churning that hinted she might lose what was left of the contents of her stomach—hinted that Flynne might not be exaggerating. But I’m not going to let her know that. It’d serve her right if I puked all over that car. What’d she do with hers, anyway?

After throwing a dark look at her, Flynne stalked from the garage and returned a few minutes later with a roll of duct tape slid over her arm like a grunge bracelet gone wrong. “You’re already in hot water with the Big Guy for your potty mouth, so don’t add lies. Stuff it or stick it?”

“If you tape my mouth and I vomit, you’ll be responsible for my death. Just sayin’.”

“Then don’t make noise.” Flynne glared at her. “I’m just trying to help here. Just sayin’.

Didn’t know you had that much grit. The woozy, stomach-revolting-on-every-side feeling returned in time for Erika to make a decision. “I’m not going to scream. I don’t want to puke in a cop car, either. But if you don’t get me inside where I can be comfortably horizontal with a bowl by my side, I’m going to puke all over you and enjoy every second of it.” Her stomach rumbled. Mostly.

That perked Flynne up for reasons Erika couldn’t fathom. She hooked her tape-free arm under Erika’s and said, “Then let’s go, Kokomo!”

That’s way too old-school—like fifty years old school. A vague memory poked through the cloud cover of her mind. “I think Keith gave me vitamins or drugs to combat after-effects. I think I need those.”

Not until Flynne had her tucked up on a couch in the family room, a bright red mixing bowl on the floor beside it and a glass of water on the coffee table, did Flynne bother to answer. “Sorry. I was freakazoiding when I left the Agency and just got what I thought I needed to get you safe. I’m not trained for this.”

“Then call Keith. He’ll come. He is trained, and he’ll take care of me.”

Even as she said it, Erika knew it was futile. Flynne had it in her head that this was necessary. So, she could wait. The Agency would take care of her job, her bills, and Flynne could learn that being an agent wasn’t a good career choice. Everything would be just fine for a few days—until Flynne got over herself.

The first epithet marched across the stage of her mind, stepped up to the mic and tapped it, ready to let loose. Erika groaned.

As if propelled by itself, the red bowl appeared at her lips. “I’m sorry! I don’t know what I’m doing. The stuff these guys have to do—totes amazeballs!”

“I was groaning at my language. Can you be quiet for a minute or two while I pray? It’s totes impossible to take repentance seriously when you’re puffy hearting your cray-cray amazeballs.”

“Coolio. Sure thing.”

I just lost fifty IQ points. I know it. Let’s start with prayers for rejuvenated little gray cells and move onto repentance after that. Okay, Lord?

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, September 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 18

As He Leads is Joy, September 19

April Hayman, Author, September 19

Emily Yager, September 20

CarpeDiem, September 20

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 21

Moments With Mercy, September 21

EmpowerMoms, September 22

Connect in Fiction , September 22

Texas Book-aholic, September 23

Betti Mace, September 23

For Him and My Family, September 24

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, September 24

Aryn The Libraryan ? , September 25

Hookmeinabook , September 25

janicesbookreviews, September 26

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, September 26

A Reader’s Brain, September 27

Bettie Rushlow, September 27

Inklings and notions , September 28

Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife, September 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 30

Blogging With Carol, September 30

Lots of Helpers, October 1

Mary Hake, October 1

Giveaway