Friday, July 8, 2016

Ante Up: A Review

I enjoy book series.  I like to see the stories evolve, watch the characters mature, and see how they approach life's challenges.

This was true for Chautona Havig's Ante Up, the fourth book in the Aggie's Inheritance series.

The series starts out with Aggie, a young college graduate who inherits her sister's eight children when her sister and brother-in-law dies. Aggie struggles to learn how to be a mother "on the job", and somewhat intimidated this mother of one!

I'd recommend reading the books in order so that the reader can fully appreciate the progression of Aggie and her family, but since this book takes place a few years after the initial novel, it can be a stand alone. The book is easy to read and conversation flows well, making this a good choice to read when the reader is looking for a way to escape without overthinking.

This last book in the series finds Aggie much more mature, but struggling in her faith. When faced with parts of herself that she may not necessarily like, she struggles to find herself in the midst of the chaos of regular life. Aggie and her family are relatable in the challenges they face, and the cast of characters of Aggie, her husband, and the children, and Aggie's best friend Tina are delightful. Aggie and her family show us that even in tough times, God has a plan and is with us, even when we don't feel Him there. Throughout this book, I laughed, I cried... but I found hope and grace.

And that's always a good thing to find in a book!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through Celebration Lit. I had previously purchased the first three books in the series.

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 Series

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.

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.

For more reviews on this book, visit the other Celebrate Lit blogs:

Blog Stops

June 30: Quiet Quilter
July 2: Mary Hake
July 7: Cassandra M’s Place (spotlight)
July 10: Karens Krayons
July 11: cherylbbookblog (spotlight

In connection with this book, the author is giving away a Kindle Fire!  Just enter at this link:


  1. Eeks! I am loving your review! Congrats!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to read. It must have been a bit painful working from an ARC but I so appreciate it!

    1. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity!