Monday, November 9, 2020

Book Review and Giveaway: The Bells of New Cheltenham

I don't consider myself to be very creative.  If I have a Pinterest photo, then I can maybe copy it and tweak it (unless it's a recipe), but to come up with something new, I don't think I'm very good at it.  However, I do love to immerse myself in an environment that stirs my imagination -- much of the time, that's books; other times, it's giving something a name that elevates it from boring to descriptive.  For example, the storage area under the platform/choir loft/baptistery/baptistery changing area is usually called just that.  However, when I first actually went into it several years ago, I had to stoop under a 3-foot tall door and creep, hunched-over, through a little maze of steel 2x4s before it opened up to an area that I could actually stand up in.  I henceforth dubbed it "The Catacombs" because that's fun, and it enriches the imagination.

When Gracie was very little, I heard about a Dickens on the Square event that occurs every year out from Memphis.  I have wanted to go as a family ever since I heard about it.  It sounds like fun to see people dressed up and hear carolers, perhaps taste some food that characteristic of Dicken's England.  I don't really have anything I could wear, unfortunately, except for maybe my wedding cape and muff that I bought for my December 1st wedding (where it was in the 60's).  Well, due to one thing or another, we have yet to go.  But doesn't it sound rich for the imagination??  The only thing better would be an actual town modeled in the same way all year long!  And that's one of the best things I like about The Bells of New Cheltenham by Chautona Havig!

The Bells of New Cheltenham is not the first book set in the fictitious (but why can't it be real???) New Cheltenham.  This is a sequel (but reads just fine as a stand-alone book) to The Ghosts of New Cheltenham.  Some of Chautona's other characters in other books have visited the town as well.  I adore the setting.  I want to go there -- a living history kind of place for Victorian England.  How fun would that be?!

Before I go any further, so I don't forget, this is a 5-star book!  I was offered and sent the book by Celebrate Lit, but I had already pre-read the book in her Advanced Reader group, and I bought the collection that the book is in because 99 cents for 7 books is a steal.  The collection is also available on Kindle Unlimited.  Keep reading for the rest of my review, to learn more about the book and about Chautona, and to enter a really great giveaway!

The characters are very real and believable.  Justine is fun and quirky.  Ken is kind and steady.  They make a good match for each other, except for one thing:  Ken is a Christian and Justine is not.  I found this book also refreshing in that while living in the middle of the Bible Belt for most of my life, I have not really met very many Americans who do not have at least a surface knowledge of God, the Bible, Jesus, and the Christmas story.  Justine not only didn't know, but she also didn't really care.  She had one goal:  win the story contest so that she could take care of a huge burden placed on her.  However, in learning about the faith elements and symbolism, she learned about the whole Christmas story and how it formed the beginning of the Gospel.  Ken, an observant and kind-hearted man, started out by helping Justine, but along the way became very attracted to her.  He realized early on that "You will fall for her.  Hard and fast.  Futility at its finest unless you can convince her to give Jesus a shot."  He had to use much discernment and wisdom to know how much to tell her and when because "If he pushed at all, she'd shut him out.  His best shot was the story.  She just had to need help with understanding it, and once she did understand, how could she resist?"  They form a friendship throughout the book.  And you'll have to read the rest of the story to find out what happens!  This is a great book!

PS Three years ago, my church put on its first BIG Christmas play called A Handful of Miracles which was set in Victorian times.  My husband had a small singing part, and Gracie and I had a couple of walk-on parts.  We had so much fun with this play!  You can view it on YouTube at:

About the Book

Book: The Bells of New Cheltenham

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian fiction, Christmas romance

Release Date: October 15, 2020

Who knew that Christmas carols were love songs?

Justine Driscoll sure didn’t. Peace on earth? She’s heard of that. Holy and joyful? Something about that, too. But love songs sung by a bride about the birth of her bridegroom? That’s just weird stuff right there.

Weird or not, though, once Justine decides to enter a short story contest using a Christmas carol as the inspiration, she discovers love in the carols she investigates, in the story an ex-Army guy tells, and in the little tourist town of New Cheltenham.

“But what do the words mean?”

Ken Torsney is used to fighting for causes he believes in. He just never imagined he’d go from Army “warrior” to spiritual warrior in the span of one question from a stranger. Justine is like no girl he’s ever known— hungry for the gospel even as she rejects it.

He’s falling for her, and that’s bound to break his heart.

Love is in the air in New Cheltenham this Christmas. Again.


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


More from Chautona Havig

3 Things That Make My Christmas Heart Sing

I didn’t have a ghost of a chance.

The message popped up in my messenger at exactly the moment I sat down.  This is significant, because I get dozens of Facebook messages every day, and often, they get buried when a new one supersedes it. So, as you can see, it’s a near miracle that I ever saw the message at all.

The message offered me a spot in a collection of novellas—a Christmas collection.  Yep. Not a ghost of a chance.

Still, I tried to be responsible, you know?  After all, I had quite a few books due at the same time already.  Bookers on the Rocks, The Last Gasp, my Christmas Lights Collection “noella,” and my CrossRoads Collection “noella.”  And those didn’t include anything I wanted to write in spring or summer.

Then she added another layer of temptation. This collection had a theme.  That theme? Christmas carol inspired romances.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love music, Christmas, and specifically, Christmas music?

The other authors in the set had already made their carol selections.  She sent a list of those that had already been claimed.  I read them with great trepidation. See, I already had two carols I’d want to use in the story for this collection that I hadn’t even agreed to participate in yet.

No one had chosen “The Holly and the Ivy” or “The Bells on Christmas Day.”

That ghost slowly transformed into the ghost of my resistance.

All that remained was for me to come up with a story idea.  I mean, why join a collection if you can’t even decide what to do with it?

That’s when it happened.

There’s always this moment when the first idea germinates, sprouts, and pushes up through the fertile soil of my imagination.  My favorite moment.  And it hit me.  What if the theme for the collection was my story idea?  My character could enter a contest that requires a short story based on a Christmas carol.

And once I had that idea, the rest came in a whoosh!  Mitchell, from The Ghosts of New Cheltenham could be sick to death of this annual ghost storytelling contest and decide to create his own contest.  And then… well…

The Bells of New Cheltenham was born.

If you’ve not read The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, you’ll follow this “noella” just fine. It is meant to be a stand-alone.  However, if you want a richer reading experience, I recommend reading The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, followed by the companion short story, “The Ghastly Therapist” first. Both are available through Kindle Unlimited.  Additionally, if you send your receipt (or a screenshot of the final page of the eBook from Kindle Unlimited) for the Melodies of Christmas Love collection to, I’ll send YOU the bonus short story—the one Justine Driscoll writes in this “noella.”

But I promised to tell you three things that make my heart sing at Christmas.

  1. The way people are often just a little kinder and a little more giving and understanding.
  2. The joy that seems to fill every part of life—family, friends, parties, presents, church services, reading, singing…
  3. The music that plays everywhere—and often sings of a Savior’s love.


What makes your heart sing at Christmas?

Blog Stops

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, November 9

21st Century Keeper at Home, November 9

Simple Harvest Reads, November 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 10

Texas Book-aholic, November 11

Blogging With Carol , November 11

Among the Reads, November 12

Artistic Nobody, November 12 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Inklings and notions, November 13

Batya's Bits, November 13

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, November 14

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Worthy2Read, November 15

For Him and My Family, November 16

Labor Not in Vain, November 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 17

lakesidelivingsite, November 17

Aryn the Libraryan, November 18

Lots of Helpers, November 19

deb's Book Review, November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 20

Jeanette's Thoughts, November 20

She Lives To Read, November 21

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

Mary Hake, November 22


To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize of 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. OOOH! Thanks for sharing the link to the video! I can't wait to watch it! And thanks for reviewing.

  2. I love this author! It's already on my December TBR list!

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

  4. Thanks for sharing about this book. It in my TBR pile!