Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Book Review and Giveaway: Jack

I first read Jack when it came out nearly five years ago and really enjoyed it!  I may have even pre-read it during the writing stage, I don't remember.  At the time, I had had no exposure to Much Ado About Nothing, but really enjoyed the banter between Dirk and Deborah.  Although I am quiet and appear to be pretty easy-going, I have a slightly snarky sense of humor that I only let come out with people who can appreciate it and not be offended.  My daughter has inherited the same thing and I have to be careful about teaching her when it's appropriate to say things and when it's not!  A couple of months ago, before our school year started, I ordered a copy of a book that had Tales of Shakespeare meant to be read aloud to children (or read by them if they were old enough).  It had great reviews and I thought it would be an easy introduction of the Bard's stories.  Well, unfortunately, neither of us loved the book.  Some of the stories were creepy, others were boring, and the adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing was disappointing -- more telling than showing and not much dialogue.  So, I wound up giving the book to my cousin.  (I know others who love that book - it just wasn't a good fit for us.)

Back to Jack.  When CelebrateLit offered me the opportunity to read and review it, I jumped on the chance, because it'd been a while since I'd read it and because I already I knew I loved it.  I was given a free copy of it, but I already owned the book.  This book is easily 5 stars.  I might be a *little* bit biased since it's written by my friend Chautona, but, all in all, I love this book!  It combines a western and Shakespeare with a great story based on a ballad with witty dialogue, and infuses a faith element that elevates the book to something inspiring and convicting even with the heartbreak involved!  I encourage you to read Chautona's thoughts down below (and enter the giveaway for a free paperback and a $25 Amazon gift card).

My favorite characters are Jack and Deborah.  I admire Jack for standing for what's right based on both his experiences and what he knows to be right since he was saved.  I see his flawed humanity when he makes choices that are knee-jerk in effect when he doesn't take the time to stop and think beyond his heart-breaking situation.  I have been there!  I also love how he does the hard thing because it's the right thing.  Deborah is incredibly quick to speak, and I wish I were like that.

I hope that Chautona will write more books in this series soon and will maybe give a glimpse into the lives of some of the other minor characters (like Pete, Maggie, the new guy Gavin?, and even John the reprobate who deserves to be strung up but a redemption story would be nice, too).

About the Book

Book:  Jack

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre:  Historical Western Romance

Release Date: January 26, 2016

Women are trouble—lying, cheating, untrustworthy bundles of trouble.

Jack Clausen doesn’t need anyone but his horse and a boss who won’t interfere in his personal life—or lack of one.

Sure, he’s a lonely cowboy, but better lonely than brokenhearted.

If only he hadn’t met a girl who made him hope that honest and true women do exist. Maybe he wouldn’t be riding off into a snowstorm with a fresh determination to avoid women—indefinitely.

When Hazel Meissner sees a cowboy risk life, limb, and horse to save a child, she knows he’s someone special. When he finally gives her his heart, she considers herself the most blessed woman alive.

However, when he rides off without a word, she wonders if her heart will survive the loss.

One broken man. One trusting woman. One orchestrated misunderstanding that tears them apart. What’ll it take to bring Jack home again?

It’s Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing mashed up with the old ballad, “Cowboy Jack.”  Don’t miss a cast of characters inspired by the Bard himself—especially Dirk and Deborah (Benedick & Beatrice).

Jack: a lot of hullaballoo on the prairie.


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

The Inspiration I Hate to Love

The plaintive notes of a ballad filled the living room. People sat on couches and chairs or stood in the doorway, listening. Three steps up the staircase, out of view of most of the room, a little girl sat, chin in her hands, listening.

If you looked close, you’d see freckles dotting her nose and crooked teeth that never were too large for her mouth like most children’s were. Just a bit closer, and you’d see wide, hazel eyes riveted to the man with the guitar seated on the hearth. To his right, a cup of coffee and sometimes a shot of whiskey.

With a voice like Jim Reeves (the non-twangy Reeves, mind you), the songs told stories, like all ballads do—a little blind girl praying for her father’s future happiness, a girl of thirteen who barely escaped a massacre in 19th century Wyoming. “Hazel eyes,” the man called her. California Joe—he was a real man, although not as good of one as the song made out.

Sometimes the man sang happier songs, but most of them were slow, western ballads that could keep Nicolas Sparks writing for decades.

And the little girl loved them all—especially California Joe and one about a cowboy who left his sweetheart alone on the prairie after a quarrel. One called “Cowboy Jack.”

As you’ve probably surmised, I was the little girl, and that man who sang and stirred the hearts of our family at nearly every gathering was my father.

How I miss those days.

For years, I wanted to give Jack a happier ending. See, the song goes like this. A lonely cowboy (with a heart so brave and true) meets and falls in love with a maiden (with eyes of heaven’s own blue). Alas, as with all good romances, the couple quarrel and Jack rides away. He finds a new band of cowboys and would have been just fine, but someone asks him to sing a song to “drive all cares away.” Alas, the song he devises is one about a “lonely maiden who waited for her Jack.”

Of course, he rides off to ask forgiveness. It’s all his fault. He arrives too late. She died of a broken heart on the “lonely prairie where skies are always blue.”

After I began writing, the idea came to me to turn those songs Dad sang—old ones that had been passed on and down through many different versions—into novels. I’d write all the subtext the songs left out.

I’d give them happy endings.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. One by one, I figured out how to do it, but Jack… well, I didn’t want to change the stories. I just wanted to leave on hope instead of despair

Shakespeare to the rescue!

I was watching Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado about Nothing adaptation, and the answer came to me so clearly. It had the solution I needed. So, I smooshed the song and the play together. Inside, you’ll find the characters Shakespeare created (including Dirk and Deborah and their biting repartee—they steal the show!) in the setting and with the elements of the ballad, too.

Dad’s older now. His hands are gnarled with age, swollen with arthritis. His mind is slipping away. Today, you’ll find his guitar at my house. My son now owns it, but he doesn’t know the songs I heard played on the old Goya. Still, when I take it out of the case, tune it up, and pluck the strings, everything shifts. Suddenly, I’m nine years old again, sitting on my uncle’s stairs, just out of sight, watching. Listening. Heart breaking.

See, I’ll never hear my father play again, and I can’t play either. So, the songs will have to live on with stories of Mary, Jethro, Maggie… and of course, Jack.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 21

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 21

Connie’s History Classroom, September 22

deb’s Book Review, September 22

For the Love of Literature, September 23

Bigreadersite, September 23

Texas Book-aholic, September 24

lakesidelivingsite, September 24

Inklings and notions, September 25

Sara Jane Jacobs, September 25

For Him and My Family, September 26

Reviewingbooksplusmore, September 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 27

Hookmeinabook, September 27

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 28

Artistic Nobody, September 29 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

21st Century Keeper at Home, September 29

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 30

Lots of Helpers, September 30

She Lives To Read, October 1

Mary Hake, October 1

Daysong Reflections, October 2

Godly Book Reviews, October 2

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

Captive Dreams Window, October 3

Spoken from the Heart, October 4

Pause for Tales, October 4


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

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


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  1. Wonderful review! Sounds like a must read. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This sounds like a really great read.

  3. Sounds like a great book to read.  Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway.

  4. I love this author! Can't wait to read this one.

  5. So appreciate you reading and reviewing. It means a lot to me.