Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Ante Up by Chautona Havig

Posted June 27, 2016 by meezcarrie in Chautona Havig, Christian, contemporary, giveaway / 36 Comments

about the book

Out with Murphy and in with O’Reilly!

O’Reilly’s Law: Murphy was an optimist!

Marriage has been good to Aggie. After a few years and a baby under her belt, she’s confident that she can take on anything–including adding child number ten to the home! Blessings aren’t always easy, and Aggie is about to discover that in a whole new way!

When their near-idyllic life was turned upside down by senseless vandalism, Aggie and gang spent a week on “Aunt” Willow’s farm. Luke worked day and night to get them back home for Thanksgiving. But when things, once more, seem to pile up, Aggie flounders. Her pregnancy grows precarious, and her husband doesn’t recognize her anymore.

Only the Lord can soothe her rumpled spirit, but will she allow Him to comfort her as only He can?

Aggie’s sure that she just needs to “knuckle down” and “ante up” to keep from losing ALL her marbles.

Ante Up! is the fourth book in the Aggie’s Inheritance Series

goodreads button RIMSP

SERIES: Aggie’s Inheritance #4
GENRE: Women’s Fiction, Christian Fiction
PUBLISHER: Wynneword House
RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2016
PAGES: 395

“…nothing irritates a pregnant woman more than someone trying to calm her when her hormones have determined agitation to be the rule of the day.”

Fans of the Aggie’s Inheritance series will be delighted to return one last time to this full-of-love but charmingly chaotic blended family. Trouble plagues Aggie and her family from word one – vandalism, health issues, a difficult pregnancy – any one of those stressors would be enough to raise someone’s anxiety level. Combine them all together, along with the ebb and flow of daily life in a houseful of NINEchildrenplusoneontheway, and you have the perfect storm.

Ante Up book reviewAggie’s faith has always been solid, but the events in Ante Up shake her and to that end I really appreciated Chautona Havig’s honest and authentic approach to the character. Aggie and Luke are a team but that doesn’t mean that their marriage is immune to conflict; anymore than Aggie’s strong relationship with God immunizes her to depression and confusion when things very much fail to go the way she’s planned. This is real life, and that is the focus of this series. The chapters are stitched together in a pattern resembling what I think of as “reality fiction” (is that a real phrase? If not, can I coin it?) – a glimpse into their lives as though Havig is just documenting the ins and outs of each day for them. We see the highs and we see the lows and everything in between (and … um… this childless cool aunt totally could have done without the pregnancy bladder TMI 😉 ) and in the process we fall in love with Aggie and Luke and the kids they claim as their own.

“You’re throwing a temper tantrum, Aggie.”

Touches of subtle humor (my favorite) keep the one-angst-after-another plot from becoming too heartwrenching, and I loved the witty chapter-titles-slash-hymn-parodies. Also, if you grew up in a church tradition that sang the older hymns and praise choruses, then I dare you to make it through Ante Up without breaking into “hum” 🙂

Bottom Line: Ante Up by Chautona Havig is brimming with kids and love and solid spiritual truth delivered naturally (if at times a bit often) from authentic characters. While some of the plot borders on repetition throughout (family crisis, pregnancy crisis, mood/faith crisis, rinse & repeat), the relationships between the characters make this book so heartwarming. Luke’s character shines, and countless women will be able to relate to Aggie’s experiences and her crisis of faith. Humor and heart make it a well-rounded story, perfect for fans of the series!

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 3.5 stars / Liked it!!

Purchase your copy here.

about the author


Chautona lives in a small, remote town in California’s Mojave Desert with her husband and six of her nine children. When not writing, she enjoys paper crafting, sewing, and looking forward to retirement from home education. Chautona writes stories of fictional people who have real problems, weaknesses, and triumphs. Through their stories, she tries to share the Hope that is within her.

website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Guest Post from Chautona Havig

“You have eight kids? How do you do it? I can barely manage with the one (or two or three) that I have! I could never do eight.”

How many times had I heard those words? Ten? Fifty? A thousand? I suspect it was between fifty and a thousand. I guarantee it felt like a million. And the reason wasn’t that people were rude or unkind about it. It was simply because they assumed things that weren’t reasonable. They acted as if I’d woken up one day with eight kids and never had a problem with adapting to it.

The cold, hard truth? I never planned to have children—ever—much less the eight I had then or the nine I have now. I didn’t like children, and even now, I really just prefer mine and others’ in very small doses. I’m naturally a very selfish person. So the comments that made me sound excessively patient and maternal were, in a word, ridiculous.

I had one answer I always gave—just one. “I didn’t get them all at once. I got them one at a time, the old fashioned way. And with a minimum of about eighteen to twenty-two months of getting used to having two, three, six, seven before I got the next.”

But that thought haunted me for weeks. What would happen if someone did get eight at once? How would she handle that? Not like the women with multiples—five, seven, eight at a time. No, I was thinking of what it would be like for someone to have my kids just dumped on someone all at once with all those different ages to deal with. I think I should have known at that moment that my childhood dream of being a writer would come true, because my next thought was, “And what if she was single?” From there, I added more. A grandmother-in-law to rival any horror stories of mothers-in-law, home renovations with kids (every mother’s nightmare), grieving, and accident prone kids who can’t stop calling 9-1-1 and you had all the worst things I could think of without becoming ridiculous.

I had originally decided that Aggie would remain single. Yeah, that didn’t happen. So, I gave her personal convictions to follow. I added to that her sister’s convictions, just to keep things interesting. I wanted to show that people have convictions for a myriad of reasons, and just because they hold one, doesn’t mean they look down on those who don’t. That original story grew from a sixty-thousand word single book into a trilogy—each book being over one hundred twenty thousand words! I was sure people would hate the length, hate the story, and ride me out of the country on the proverbial rail. I just hoped I landed in the southern Atlantic—nice and warm.

Instead, Ready or Not has been my best selling book—an Amazon bestseller. The first promotion we did resulted in the book being downloaded every 3.6 seconds in a twenty-four hour period. I was flabbergasted. I did the math a dozen times to make sure. When the last book came out, fans bemoaned the loss of their favorite character. I added more of her to another series, Past Forward. That helped—a little.

Eventually, I agreed to write a fourth book. I waited, and I’m so glad I did. Nearly five years have passed since Aggie inherited her eight nieces and nephews, and nearly four have passed since she married and began a new journey with him. She’s a mother now, not “just” an aunt. She’s a wife. Her life is rich and full of the craziness readers have come to love. So in this book, I decided to explore what happens when life throws just one too many curve balls. I decided to show the children growing up and facing new trials and temptations. And, I wanted to give just a little bit of joy in the extended family front after three books of trials there. I thought it was about time.

My goal for these books has always been to point my readers to the Lord. I did that through one character’s wisdom, another’s steadfastness, and of course, through Aggie’s songs and bite-sized prayers (p-mails). In this book, I wanted to point readers to the Lord through Aggie again, but in a different way. I hope it is as encouraging to them as it was to me. I learned so much in the writing of this book. It laid open my heart before the Lord and I saw things in myself I didn’t want to see but needed to. The Lord is so good to us.

Don’t forget—for those who purchase before July 7, 2016, we’re giving away a FREE bonus devotional, Tune My Heart: 25 Hymn-Filled Moments with the Lord. Each chapter corresponds to the book and examines some of the themes of the book, so you don’t want to read it before you’ve read the book! To get your free copy, just forward your Amazon receipt to THIS EMAIL.

Other Books by Chautona Havig

giveaway RIMSP


To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a Kindle Fire! Click to enter: or enter in the promosimple giveaway widget below.

Click here to view this promotion.

Blog Stops

June 27: Reading Is My SuperPower

June 28: Melissa’s Reviews

June 29: Texas Book-aholic

June 30: Quiet Quilter

July 1: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberation

July 2: Mary Hake

July 3: Petra’s Hope

July 4: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

July 5: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

July 6: 100 pages per hour

July 7: Cassandra M’s Place (spotlight)

July 8: His Grace is Sufficient

July 9: Red Headed Book Lady

July 10: Karens Krayons

July 11: cherylbbookblog (spotlight)

What about you? Aggie is known for singing hymns as she walks through daily life. What is YOUR favorite hymn or praise song?

Tags: , ,

36 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Ante Up by Chautona Havig

  1. My real favorite is “In Christ Alone”, but Aggie wouldn’t know that one. My favorite older hymn is “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” (On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand). Like Aggie, I find myself humming or singing different hymns according to circumstances and activities.

  2. Winnie Thomas

    Thanks for the wonderful post, Carrie and Chautona. My favorite hymns are How Great Thou Art, I Need Thee Every Hour, and I Know That My Redeemer Lives. They all have beautiful melodies and lyrics.

  3. Joanne Baker

    I can’t wait to read this! Chautona Havig is one of my favorite authors. I want to crawl into her books and live there! My favorite hymns are….Just a closer walk with thee…and rock of ages

  4. Marylin Furumasu

    This book is fantastic! I was fortunate to be an advanced reader. I highly recommend it!

  5. Marilyn

    Saw the book “More Than she Dreamt” as a giveaway. You were on the blog tour list. The cover alone is beautiful. Looking forward to reading this book.

  6. Angela

    Great review! I got my copy today and I’m just about to go start reading. We’ll see if I get any sleep tonight. 😀

  7. Thank you for such a lovely review! Choosing a favorite hymn. It’s kind of like choosing a favorite book, or movie… or child. LOL.

    Right now, this minute, it would have to be “Come Thou Fount.” It’s blessing me a lot lately–probably due to the amount of time I spent on it in the book.

  8. I’m reading the book now and I loved the pregnancy bladder incident especially when Vannie follows her and wants to talk when Aggie just wants to change! This is my life! (except I only have 4 and we got them the old fashioned way, and I am not pregnant!)

  9. Emma Welch

    I can’t wait to read it! No doubt I’ll be up till 3 in the morning cause I can’t put it down haha

Leave a Reply