The Divining Wand

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Lauren Baratz-Logsted and
The Twin’s Daughter, Petal’s Problems

February 07, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Twins, particularly identical ones, are a story unto themselves and for Lauren Baratz-Logsted (The Education of Bet YA, Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series Book 5: Marcia’s Madness) they became the inspiration of her most recent YA novel, The Twin’s Daughter. As the author explained:

“I love anything to do with twins and I wanted to write a story about a side of the story I’d never seen: that of someone who’s a child of an identical twin.”

The child/teenager is 13 year old Lucy Sexton, who would rather be educated than waste her time doing needlepoint and other proper, “ladylike” activities of England’s Victorian period. And it’s through Lucy’s sensibly curious, yet ultimately horrified mind that readers watch the story unfold.

Synopsis of The Twin’s Daughter:

Lucy Sexton is stunned when her mother’s identical twin sister shows up at the family’s front door one day. Separated at birth, the two sisters have had dramatically different upbringings — and have never known of the other’s existence. Lucy’s mother soon becomes determined to transform her sister Helen into the kind of lady that all of society will admire. And the change in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But is it just Lucy’s imagination, or does Aunt Helen seem to delight in being mistaken for Lucy’s mother….especially where Lucy’s father is concerned? Then one day Lucy is horrified to stumble upon the scene of a brutal murder in her own house. Who is behind the vicious slaying — and who has been left alive?

The murder victim is one of the twins, however which one is it – Lucy’s mother or her aunt? In a December 2010 Red Room blog post, The Twin’s Daughter as it Was, Lauren writes:

“That question – “‘WHICH ONE?'” – drives the rest of the story.”

Of course the author thought she knew “which one” but points out that a major difficulty in writing a suspense novel is not knowing when the reader will figure things out. If the “Aha” moment comes too early, does it spoil the suspense?

Lauren called in outside readers to determine at what point they guessed “which one” and was the story suspenseful? All agreed it was suspenseful and the timing of their “knowing guess” didn’t deter from their reading. The manuscript was fine as it was, nothing had to be changed until the author began thinking, “What if I switched things around so that the ending was now a surprise even to me?”

And that’s exactly what she did, thereby turning The Twin’s Daughter into one of the most puzzling, second guessing mysteries one could ever hope to read!

As a book for all ages, this is more than a thrilling mystery. Lauren Baratz-Logsted shines in portraying Lucy as an adolescent who possesses strength and independence, while still being naive to the details of the world. Readers will watch her grow, mature, fall in love, and face a hard truth that molds the rest of life. She’s a believable character — a great role model — who bravely faces her bittersweet reality and comes to terms with it.

The Twin’s Daughter, complete with its murder mystery, is filled with lessons learned. The Gothic tale has a charm all its own, one that will linger with wonder at how Lauren fooled us all!

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For readers/visitors unfamiliar with the Sisters 8 Series, the presentation/review of Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Marcia’s Madness is the perfect place to fill in the background.

Written by the Logsted family, about a family of eight sisters, Lauren explains what she, Greg, and Jackie wanted to create:

“One thing we have strived to do with The Sisters 8, since all three of us our huge fans of Roald Dahl, we’ve tried to emulate him to the extent that we do the best to make the quirky humor work for readers of all ages in addition to the targeted audience of 6- to 10-year-olds. We hope we have succeeded.”

With the introduction of a new book featuring another sister, every six months or so, The Sisters Eight Book 6: Petal’s Problems was released in October 2010 with this synopsis

Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no! May is almost over and that means only one thing: Petal’s month is about to begin. For most people, this would be a good thing. They would look forward to discovering their gift and their power. But not our dear Petal. As far as Petal is concerned, it could stay May forever.

At least the sisters have some excitement in their future: The wedding of Aunt Martha and Uncle George will bring them, the Petes, and the cats to Paris, where fun—and a little bit of danger—will come as surely as the changing of the month.

Rather than spoil the story, let it simply be noted that Petal is one sister reluctant to receive her “power.” Of course she can’t escape it….ah, yet that’s the story which, according to Kirkus Readers, is filled with “thrills, suspense and hijinks [that] should satisfy adventure-seeking young readers.”

The Sisters Eight Book 6: Petal’s Problems — it’s a must to either begin or add to the Sisters 8 Series!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s The Twin’s Daughter AND the entire Sisters 8 Series, including Petal’s Problems in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. PLEASE indicate which book(s) you prefer. As always, comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

The Further Revealing of Lauren Baratz-Logsted

January 26, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A


As one of The Divining Wand’s most prolific authors, Lauren Baratz-Logsted (The Education of Bet YA, Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series Book 5: Marcia’s Madness) was first revealed here on March 31, 2010. Since that was almost a year ago — or four published books later –, it felt definitely time to catch up with this writer and her most recent YA novel The Twin’s Daughter, and middle grade addition The Sisters Eight Book 6: Petal’s Problems. Both were released in early Fall 2010 and received this critical praise:

For The Twin’s Daughter — “Identical twin sisters. Murder. Mistaken identity. Secret tunnel. OF COURSE it’s a Favorite Book Read in 2010.”—Library School Journal

The Sisters Eight Book 6: Petal’s Problems — “Thrills, suspense and hijinks to satisfy adventure-seeking young readers.”– Kirkus Readers

The Divining Wand has scheduled a joint presentation/review of Lauren’s latest releases for Monday, February 7, 2011 but, in the meantime, let’s become reacquainted with the author through her “official” bio:

LAUREN BARATZ-LOGSTED is the author of more than a dozen books for adults and young readers, including The Twin’s Daughter, Crazy Beautiful, and the Sisters 8 series, which she cowrites with her husband and daughter.

And now for the further revealing of Lauren:

Q: What would you choose as the theme song of your life?
A: “My Way” by Frank Sinatra.

Q: Possible pseudonym?
A: JK Rowling. The royalties would be better.

Q: Name three “bests” of being a published author.
A: 1) The actual writing. 2) Having my daughter be proud of me. 3) Fan mail, particularly from little kids.

Q: Favorite book release season of the year?
A: Fall because then I can at least delude myself for a while that “this one might be The Big One.”

Q: If given the opportunity, which reality show would you be on?
A: So You Think You Can Dance? The thing is, I can’t dance, at least not in any way that’s suitable for public consumption, but Nigel and the other judges seem lighter at heart than judges on other shows so I’m sure I’d fit right in.

Q: Favorite childhood fairy tale?
A: Rumpelstiltskin.

Q: What U.S. city would you like to visit that you haven’t been to yet?
A: Atlanta, Georgia.

Q: Your reward after a day of writing?
A: “General Hospital” from 3-4pm and sometimes wine.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are LEAST important to you?
A: Success, wealth, fashion sense.

Q: An author quote that inspires you?
A: “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who only dream at night.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Q: Where do you like to read?
A: Everywhere.

Q: Book or ebook reader?
A; Strictly book, but you never know – sometimes even I change!

Q: Growing up, who was your teen idol?
A: The authors who wrote the books I loved. I was also a big Rolling Stones fan but looking at Mick and Keith now, I’m thinking it’s just as well things didn’t work out for us romantically.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
A: I’d make myself taller, but only for a day. At 4’11 I’ve always been curious how the other half lives.

Q: Must love dogs and/or cats?
A: Cats. The Sisters 8 features eight cats. I am most definitely a cat person. Have I adequately conveyed that yet?

Q: Which author – past or present – would you have chosen as a mentor?
A: If we’re fantasizing, why not ask for Shakespeare? If I had to select a living author, it’d be Arturo Perez-Reverte. He writes literary thrillers, and sometimes the scenes are violent, but there’s so much sheer joy and intelligence that readers can glimpse in the sensibility behind his books.

Q: What book did you fake reading?
A: HA! I used to fake reading all the time when I was very young, to compete with my older brother and parents who were all very prolific readers, but it’s been decades since I faked reading anything.

Q: What is your favorite scent?
A: Peonies.

Q: What is your favorite movie adaptation of a novel?
A: To Kill a Mockingbird.

Q: Two books you always give or recommend, knowing they’ll be loved?
A: Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.

Q: What are five of your favorite things?
A: Since you said “things” I’m going to assume you mean that literally so I’ll leave people off my list. Hmm…five of my favorites… Good books, good wine, TV, anything with shrimp, and my furry blanket on the couch in the living room.

In addition to being an imaginative and talented author, Lauren is extremely knowledgeable of the book world in general. To keep up with her isights, follow the author on Twitter, and become a friend on Facebook!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Linda Gray Sexton’s Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Linda Gray Sexton and Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.