… I know that sounds like the start of a blog about someone going on a long journey with just a backpack and a few dollars in their pocket. Well, when someone makes a decision to make a huge change in their life (or the change is thrust upon them), there is always some element of giving up and feeling loss. Sometimes, it’s a spiritual change, where you give up things that interfere with your relationship with God, or a physical change, where you give up things that cause your body to be sick, fat and tired. In Cassie’s case (the star of Vintage Wren), she gives up things that make her a wasteful and lazy person and that cause her to contribute to the gluttony and wastefulness of consumerism that is so prevalent in this country (and much of the world).
Back in the old days, when entertainment was listening to the radio or reading magazines, stories were written as serial novels. If you were an author you could have your stories released by chapters, in a publication (a great way to keep people buying your magazines). Chautona Havig has adapted this idea to email and usually has a series being released chapter by chapter into our inboxes each week, then they are compiled into volumes and sold as books. So far, she has serialized: Past Forward, Hearthland, Confessions of a Decluttering Junkie and now …… the Vintage Wren Volume 1:
About the Book
Book Title: the Vintage Wren Volume 1
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Christian / Fiction / General / Romance
Release date: May 25, 2016 (still in progress)
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-
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.
To start, I have read almost all of Chautona’s books. I know her style and I know what she is usually looking to achieve in her writing, so it’s hard to provide a review starting with a blank slate. Which I fear may color my review a tiny bit – if I miss something as a result (whether it’s positive or negative – forgive me).
What I liked:
I like the subject matter of being ecologically minded. Cassie’s friend Joel is a great guy. He’s loyal, kind and he’s very much in love with Cassie, but for some dumb reason she won’t see the light. I like that one of my favorite towns in Chautona’s imaginary world is coming into play in the story – Hearthland. I like that Cassie is sensitive about things, but that also gets annoying (upcoming comments about that). I also like that Chautona doesn’t write people that are always likable, she presents people, as people with flaws and good points, just as we all have and are. I like that Cassie commits to doing something hard and sticks to it, when a lot of people would have baled or compromised.
What I didn’t like:
I didn’t like that Cassie is whiny-weeper who cries over some of the stupidest things. I worked for a guy who used to say, “If you’ve volunteered to do a job, don’t complain and whine while you’re doing it.” Cassie complains, whines and literally cries over not being able to use stuff, that SHE herself committed to not using. I also don’t like the guilt that I feel with how horribly wasteful we are, in our home and as a country. But that’s a good guilty, because it helps to keep me aware of not being resource glutton. But these reasons are not reasons to give less stars.
Technically, I find almost a piece by piece account of Cassie’s life a little tedious. There’s a lot going on, and that moves the story along, but I tend to lose interest quickly. I have high hopes for the upcoming volumes and will continue reading and reviewing them, because I do enjoy the story and some of the non-wasteful ideas are really helpful. It’s a good start to the series.
Click here to purchase your copy!
About the Author
The author of dozens of books in a variety of genres, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert where she uses story to nudge her readers to the feet of the Master Storyteller.
Guest Post from Chautona
How Writing about Cassie’s Eco-Challenge Has Changed My Way of Living
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.
- 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. 🙂
- 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.
- 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.
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, and a $10 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!
Click HERE to enter.