The Vintage Wren: January by Chautona Havig – Book Review, Preview, Guest Post

Posted October 16, 2018 by Phyllis Helton in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Guest Post /

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The Vintage Wren: January by Chautona Havig - Book Review, Preview, Guest Post

I don’t necessarily think of myself as being eco-conscious, but in many ways I am. It really started when we had to find ways to avoid allergens in food and our environment.

The more I read the more I became aware of things like the man-made chemicals that are in so many things! As a do-it-myself kind of girl, I had fun finding recipes for making everything from tooth-powder (which I LOVE!) to laundry detergent. I found that there are some products that I do not have the recipe, the time or the patience to make while others are super easy. Did you know there are these berries that you can use to wash your clothes? I kid you not, and they actually seem to work okay, though I don’t use them by themselves. If you want my laundry tricks for chemical-free laundry, drop me a note or write in the comments and I’ll share. . .

The Vintage Wren: January by Chautona Havig – Book Review, Preview, Guest Post

The Vintage Wren: January

by Chautona Havig

Series: The Vintage Wren #1
Published by Wynneword House
Publication Date May 25, 2016
Genres: Christian Fiction
Written for: Adults
Pages: 294


The Vintage Wren is a serial novel released in several chapter episodes. Volume One contains the first four and a half episodes in one full-length novel.

Cassie Wren. Legal assistant. Convenience queen. Thrifter extraordinaire. If there was a "green police" she'd be a fugitive from eco-friendly justice.

But when a friend's teasing feels like a challenge, Cassie accepts it. The result? One year. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred sixty-five days--of green.

It seemed simple enough. Cut back on paper plates, plastic forks, and straws. Easy peasy. But when her competitive side wars against her desire for convenience, Cassie finds it's not so easy to be "eco-friendly" and "Cassie-friendly."

January Shopping for Cassie's annual New Year's Eve party sparks an innocent comment that Cassie can't forget. So, during their New Year's Day goal planning session, Cassie's friends tease her about her lack of eco-consciousness, and Cassie determines to change one new thing in favor of the planet every week. For a year. Even if it kills her.

She's confident it will.

Cassie's first month includes eradicating the extraneous paper, glass, plastic, and metal from her life. However, she finds that it's not quite as easy as she thought. Paper and plastic cover everything manufactured or packaged--even water, produce, and restaurant food! Glass is great, but you can only have so many "reusable jars," and metal reduction means her hair may end up a nightmare of uncontrollable frizzies!

She doesn't even want to talk about her water reduction plans.

But it's not all been bad. She's saved a lot of money, has prospects for a new business, her impromptu blog is gaining traffic, and she even has a new boyfriend. Add to that, a few great friends who keep her going when things get rough, and the realization that there are only eleven months to go, and Cassie just might make it.

Now only if her car would cooperate and make it, too!

The Vintage Wren. A serial novel released in fifty-two episodes (for obvious reasons). Each month will be released separately as a full-length novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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My heart jumped into my throat as I watched the plastic-wrapped plastic forks drop onto the table. NO! I thought. Not those!

I was at a team lunch at a build-your-own-pizza place and my boss decided to be “nice” and get the forks for everyone. Normally I wouldn’t have even really thought twice about it, but you see, I had recently finished reading The Vintage Wren.

Despite thinking I do pretty well in helping preserve the environment, after reading about Cassie’s first month in her journey, I know there are so many areas in which I fall short. But my outlook was affected by it, as evidenced by my reaction to my helpful boss.

Cassie is the kind of person who once she makes up her mind to do something, she pours herself into it wholeheartedly. Which led to some amusing moments in the story. She also has trouble backing down from a challenge, which is exactly how she got herself into committing to a year of changes. It’s only 365 days, right?

I was able to relate to Cassie’s frustrations. Making changes, even for the better, can be sooo hard! Any time I’ve had to change my diet whether for a week or a month or forever, whatever it is that I can’t eat all of a sudden becomes the most important and craved food! So poor Cassie’s breakdowns – yeah. I get it!

Don’t run away from the book, though, if you aren’t into all of this. Though the story IS about Cassie’s exploration of living a more earth-friendly lifestyle, that isn’t the whole story. In the process of reducing her paper and glass usage, she discovers some very important things about herself. The way she interacts with others. The way she changes the truth to match what she says.

There is a lovely love triangle. Cassie’s second best friend, Joel, wants to be more than a friend. And frankly, I think he is quite the catch. Joel is one of the kindest men, loves Cassie enough to want what is best for her and is willing to watch as she dates other men. Oh, and did I mention that he cooks for her, rescues her when she freaks out, knows exactly what she needs. . . Oh, and his online name – joel213 – look up that verse and you’ll see a bit of his heart. If I hadn’t already swooned over him, that would have done it.

Then there is Evan. Who is handsome and talented and kind. And an amazing dancer! Sadly for Joel, Evan is the one she has started going out with. Don’t get me wrong. I like Evan and he seems to be a good fit for Cassie. Kinda. He just doesn’t know her as Joel does. This is just the first month of her experiment, so who knows who Cassie will end up with! I’m kinda hoping for Joel.

Then there is my favorite character. Well, he’s not really a character. Is he? In lieu of a pet, Cassie adopted her reproduction of Rodin’s The Thinker. And she has nicknamed him and talks to him. And just might have played chess with him. I so wanted to pull quotes from conversations with him or thoughts she had about him but they just wouldn’t have made any sense outside the context of the story!

The Vintage Wren is written in Chautona’s unique and quirky style. I honestly think I would be able to pick out her writing from a lineup of books. (There are not many authors who have a voice so unique I can identify it as hers.) Full of chuckles and interesting perspectives that point back to the Lord, it is a good book that will get you thinking.

Overall, this book was a little more about the process of going environmentally friendly than I expected. There is certainly a story, it is just heavy on the details. There were a few things discussed that probably had to be, but toilet paper was mentioned a few more times than I wanted to hear about. Will I read the rest of the books in the series? Most likely. I really do want to find out what happens with Joel…


Chautona's The Vintage Wren Pinterest Board

(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest)
  • The Vintage Wren, the adventures of a 20-something convenience queen on a 52 Week Challenge: Going Green! Plus a way for you to start your own 52 weeks challenge! #christianbooks #christianfiction
  • The Vintage Wren: January by Chautona Havig - Book Review, Preview, Guest Post - Among the Reads
  • The Vintage Wren on tour with Celebrate Lit and featured on
  • Sometimes friends get an insane idea, and your job is to talk them down. I sat down and talked with Joel about his methods for helping Cassie think clearly. via @chautonahavig
  • Say it isn't true.
  • Miss Gloria's Wedding dress and hat
  • Blog chat with Donna of Funky Junk
  • My repurposed tractor part table!
  • Cassie's little Grecian Statue from "The Brown House"
  • A Snippet from The Vintage Wren Week 8-- Word Reads Cassie
  • Ooooh... Neal...
  • Episode 6: I think she has a point.
  • Episode 7: And that does make a difference.
  • Episode 6: Relationships are complicated things
  • Episode 6: :(
  • Episode 7: Ahhh.. serendipity is a beautiful thing.
  • Episode 6:  Yea, I'd decline, too...
  • Get your FREE installments of The Vintage Wren sent directly to your email each week.
  • Episode 7:  Something I never could get through to my husband. He doesn't even read them!

How Writing about Cassie’s Eco-Challenge Has Changed My Way of Living

by Chautona Havig

I didn’t think it through—not really. I mean, how hard could it be? All I had to do is give Cassie my own reactions to things like giving up straws and having to use tote bags at the grocery store. I just needed 52 simple things she could change in her life—one new one for each episode.

Piece of cake.

I should have known better. I don’t do things halfway when I get into them. Yes, I’ve discovered that Cassie is more like me in some ways than I ever imagined. And as I’ve researched things for her to freak out about, I’ve done a bit of freaking out myself. Certain questions and thoughts won’t go away.

For instance, in 2017 1.26 BILLION dollars were spent on plush toys. Just plush toys. Stuffed animals. And I don’t know how many weren’t purchased. Those are just the ones that were. That’s… a LOT of stuffed toys. If each toy cost 20 dollars (and we all know most are half that or less these days), that’s 63 million of those toys purchased and brought home.
In one year.

Shampoo, conditioner, and laundry soap bottles. Not sure why this one bothers me as much as it does. I think, actually, it’s the huge amount of water as much as it is all the plastic.

Look, we no longer have eight females in our house. But we do still have four there at all times—five on breaks. That’s a lot of shampoo bottles every year. A big portion of both laundry soap, shampoo, and conditioner is… water. We pay for a big bottle (lots of plastic and water) and to ship that to us—either because we had to have it shipped to a store for us to buy it or we had to have it shipped to our house.

I am paying extra for water that I could add myself at a fraction of the cost.

And the things go on and on. The lake that almost disappeared in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan because of how much water it takes to grow and process cotton.

See, the thing is, I’m not a green nut.

I don’t think it’s as easy to “destroy the planet” as we like to say. I do think, much like we do with our bodies and such, that we can reduce the quality of the world around us, however.

And while I’ll never jump on Cassie’s bandwagon—certainly not for life, I have made a few changes in how I do things. And as time goes on, I find myself making even more.

Like what, you ask?

I’ll tell you.

Here are three small ways I’ve changed how we do things in our house.

  1. I started buying Dropps. They’re an automatically-shipped laundry pod. Each one is tiny—just a little smaller than the average “pod” and a whole lot cheaper. Also, there are no extra dyes or other things that are supposed to be bad for you and the planet.

I don’t really care about that. I just care that they work. And they do. And they’re cheaper than my Tide. ?

  1. I got a shampoo bar for my birthday. I thought it would be like washing with regular soap—especially after I started rinsing my hair! It freaked me out. One idea down the drain… I thought.

But no, after the second or third use, it still felt weird while wet, but it dried beautifully, and I didn’t need to use additional conditioner. It’s in the bar or something. I even tried the old way again to compare after-shower tangles. Identical.

  1. Dryer balls. Those felted wool balls really do work! A wonderful reader of mine sent me some, and it made my day! My youngest daughter and I are now trying to work with felted sweaters to try to turn them into dryer balls—or maybe even into sheets! (although, I think the balls bouncing around also kind of pound the clothes into submission or something. “Sheets” might not work, but I’m tempted to try it!

Look, you’ll never find me standing in front of a case in a mini-mart, freaking out because I want a Coke and can’t justify it. That’s not going to happen. But if I can choose a reasonable alternative to what I already do, well… it’s time to consider that.

There you have it. Three ways my life has changed since writing Cassie’s crazy story.

Blog Stops

The April Journal , October 16

Among the Reads , October 16

Inklings and Notions , October 17

Lots of Helpers, October 18

Carpe Diem, October 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 19

Real World Bible Study, October 20

A Baker’s Perspective, October 21

The Lit Addict, October 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 22

Janice’s Book Reviews, October 23

Aryn The Libraryan , October 23

Bigreadersite, October 24

Mary Hake, October 24

Cultivating Us, October 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations , October 26

Multifarious, October 26

Bibliophile Reviews, October 27

Proud to Be an Autism Mom, October 28

Texas Book-aholic, October 29

The Mimosa Blossom, October 29


To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize package that includes:

  • 5 Shopping totes
  • a Shampoo Bar
  • a Foldable Straw
  • a $10 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.



About Chautona Havig

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 on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

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10 responses to “The Vintage Wren: January by Chautona Havig – Book Review, Preview, Guest Post

  1. James Robert

    Thank you so much for taking time to bring to our attention another great read. I enjoy these tours and finding out about many terrific books.

  2. sjbraun

    This sounds interesting! Like you, I’m not super-“green,” although in many ways I have been and have been for years now. Now I’m curious about the 2 guys in the love triangle too …

  3. If it makes you feel any better, the book slowly becomes less about her changes and more about her life… and life with the changes. But like every new path, it consumes at the beginning and then becomes a little more bearable. Hint. the Agency gets involved at one point. 🙂

    And don’t forget. You can get it FREE every week. A chapter a week in your inbox every Wednesday. As my thanks for being a reader. Oh, and January is FREE starting Friday.

  4. I am thoroughly enjoying this book, one chapter at a time! I’m not sure how much more eco-conscious I’ve become from reading it, but I’d like to think we’re doing somewhat better!

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