Book Review: Chronicles of a Radical Hag (With Recipes)

Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes) by Lorna Landvik

A bittersweet, seriously funny novel of a life, a small town, and a key to our troubled times traced through a newspaper columnist’s half-century of taking in, and taking on, the world

The curmudgeon who wrote the column “Ramblin’s by Walt” in the Granite Creek Gazette dismissed his successor as “puking on paper.” But when Haze Evans first appeared in the small-town newspaper, she earned fans by writing a story about her bachelor uncle who brought a Queen of the Rodeo to Thanksgiving dinner. Now, fifty years later, when the beloved columnist suffers a massive stroke and falls into a coma, publisher Susan McGrath fills the void (temporarily, she hopes) with Haze’s past columns, along with the occasional reprinted responses from readers. Most letters were favorable, although Haze did have her trolls; one Joseph Snell in particular dubbed her “liberal” ideas the “chronicles of a radical hag.” Never censoring herself, Haze chose to mollify her critics with homey recipes—recognizing, in her constantly practical approach to the world and her community, that buttery Almond Crescents will certainly “melt away any misdirected anger.”

Framed by news stories of half a century and annotated with the town’s chorus of voices, Haze’s story unfolds, as do those of others touched by the Granite Creek Gazette, including Susan, struggling with her troubled marriage, and her teenage son Sam, who—much to his surprise—enjoys his summer job reading the paper archives and discovers secrets that have been locked in the files for decades, along with sad and surprising truths about Haze’s past.

With her customary warmth and wit, Lorna Landvik summons a lifetime at once lost and recovered, a complicated past that speaks with knowing eloquence to a confused present. Her topical but timeless Chronicles of a Radical Hag reminds us—sometimes with a subtle touch, sometimes with gobsmacking humor—of the power of words and of silence, as well as the wonder of finding in each other what we never even knew we were missing.

Review:
I was absolutely drawn into this book by it’s fantastic title, and it did not disappoint. I tore through this uniquely written book and enjoyed getting to know the characters of this small town — and reading the yummy recipes!!
The book uses Hazel’s newspaper columns from over 50 years to structure the story of Hazel, the people in her life, and the people who’s lives were touched by her columns. It seems like this might be confusing, but it isn’t because it’s handled really well.
I love Hazel and her no nonsense point of view. She is not shy on giving her opinion and has the courage to say things that might be unpopular — with the understanding that at least she will be engaging people in important discussions.
This book gives strong opinions on a lot of hot social and political topics — everything from feminism, to gay rights, to war, and beyond. I imagine that the author was hoping to be like Hazel, to put her thoughts out there and inspire some discussion. I did find that near the end, it felt like a lot of issues were being thrown at the reader in a bit of a rush.
One of my favourite characters was Sam, the struggling teenager who learns to find his way, largely through reading through Hazel’s columns. He’s absolutely adorable and it was nice to see the growth in this teen and how he learned to inspire others.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me a review copy of this book.
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Summer 2017 Newsletter

Hello Everyone,

Happy Summer!!! I hope everyone is well and safe. Here in BC we have been hit with hot weather and forest fires, but I am proud to be part of a city that has stepped up to welcome thousands who have been displaced from their homes.The huge outpouring of kindness is inspiring.

Kick-Butt Princess Book Sale

I am excited to be taking part in a huge, multi author book sale for the week of July 17-21. Click on the image above to be taken to a page of authors who have written kick butt princess books, all of which are on sale for $.99 or are free. Now is the time to stock up on your summer reading of amazing, strong heroines who do the saving. You’ll find Prophecy there for $.99. I can’t wait to check them out myself.

Art in the Park:

On Canada Day, my writing group Books in the Belfry (you can find out more about us here on our web page), were fortunate enough to have a booth at our local Art in the Park. It was a fantastic, sunny day, filled with people coming to talk with us about books and writing. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

Betrayed:

I’ve been spending most of my writing time these days polishing off my adult novel set in ancient Greece during the time of the Trojan War, Betrayed. I really love this book and can’t wait to finish it — it is about Queen Clytemnestra, twin sister to Helen of Troy. It combines my love of Greek myth with a phenomenal heroine and lots of strong emotions. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster to write, but well worth it.

New Writing Practice:

For those of you who are writers, I wanted to share a new writing practice that I’ve adopted that I am having some fun with. It is called “copywriting.” Basically, before writing every day, I sit and physically copy out a page or two from someone else’s work in an effort to learn new ways of writing. It’s actually something writer’s have been doing for a long time and something painters do — copy the masters. You can read my blog post about it here. I was in the mood for Thoreau’s essay On Civil Disobedience, so I’m starting with that. I also think it would be a fantastic way to get into the rhythm of poetry. So far I find it a great calming and centering exercise.

What I’m Reading:

Besides loading up my Kindle with Kick-Butt Princess books, I’ve been branching out in my reading this summer and I’m in the mood for thrillers. I’ve just started The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins and it’s amazing so far. Does anyone have any other good recommendations — not too gory, though.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope you are enjoying your summer,
Take care,
Coreena McBurnie

 

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Free Prophecy Colouring Pages

I was playing around on my computer and figured out how to make the cover of my book, Prophecy, into a colouring page. In fact, several colouring pages. Here they are, so feel free to download. The reason that there are several is because of Antigone’s hair — in most of my attempts to make a colouring page, her hair just turns into a big white area. So I had an idea. I ran the cover through several different filters on a free app called Dreamscope (completely addictive, by the way), until I found some likely results. Then I took that image and ran it through another free program called Rapid Resizer that has a Free Picture Stencil Maker. This is what I came up with!

 

And, just for fun, I found a few images related to my book and made those into colouring pages too.

Here is King Oedipus contemplating the Sphinx’s riddle:

Here is Antigone and her sister, Ismene:

And here is Antigone with her father, Oedipus:

If anyone else tries this, I’d love to see the results, along with any completed colouring projects.

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