Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s One Question Interview Blog Tour!

I got the chance to ask  Lauren Baratz-Logsted one question for her One Question Interview Blog Tour, and because I’m always interested in books people recommend to one another, it was this:

Q: I noticed in your bio that you used to work at a bookseller and you had other book related jobs. What are some of your favorite books to recommend people (let’s say top 5 or 10?) and why?

Lauren Baratz-LogstedA: Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s my favorite novel by a living author. (The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel by a dead author.) I once saw someone on the beach reading it and experienced intense book envy that the person had the discovery of much of the book still ahead.

Freeze Frame, by Heidi Ayarbe. This YA novel about a boy who isn’t sure if he intended to kill his friend or not is a perfect example of why adults love YA these days too.

The Memoirs of Cleopatra, by Margaret George. The title tells you exactly what it’s about and this doorstopper has given me more pleasure than any other historical novel.

Breath, by Tim Winton. This Australian novel was my favorite adult novel in 2008. Without the framing device of an adult telling a story about his teenage self this could have been easily published as YA. The story, about a boy’s fascination with surfing and the dark road down which it leads him, is thoroughly gripping.

Forever on the Mountain, by James M. Tabor. A nonfiction account of a real mountain-climbing expedition gone bad, this is so well done that even though the reader knows from the start just exactly who will make it down the mountain and who will not, it’s still edge-of-the-seat suspenseful.

Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns. Back when I was a bookseller a woman came into the store wearing dark glasses. It was obvious she’d been crying. “Just give me something good to read,” she said. After mentally rejecting more serious literary and dark commercial fare for fear those books might send her running for the open windows, I handed her this charming crowd-pleaser. She bought it and came back the following week to thank me. She said I’d saved her life with that book. How can I not love and go on recommending a book that saved a woman’s life???

The Education of Bet
Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Baratz-Logsted has a new Young Adult novel, The Education of Bet, coming out on July 12th. The story is about a girl pretending to be a boy in Victorian England. From the blurb on Amazon:

“When Will and Bet were four, tragic circumstances brought them to the same house, to be raised by a wealthy gentleman as brother and sister. Now sixteen, they’ve both enjoyed a privileged upbringing thus far. But not all is well in their household. Because she’s a girl, Bet’s world is contained within the walls of their grand home, her education limited to the rudiments of reading, writing, arithmetic, and sewing. Will’s world is much larger. He is allowed—forced, in his case—to go to school. Neither is happy.

So Bet comes up with a plan and persuades Will to give it a try: They’ll switch places. She’ll go to school as Will. Will can live as he chooses. But once Bet gets to school, she soon realizes living as a boy is going to be much more difficult than she imagined.”

It sounds like it could be cute, especially since she develops a crush on her roommate at the Betterman Academy.

Previous stop (June 22) @ Persephone reads: If you could bring any character – not your own – to life for a day, who would it be and why?

Next stop (June 24) @Wendy Toliver: If an alien offered to give you any position in the world, what would you choose?

Originally posted on

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Premise: Well. I really think the blurb for this is better than anything I could say because…hooks for hands people:
“In an explosion of his own making, Lucius blew his arms off. Now he has hooks. He chose hooks because they were cheaper. He chose hooks because he wouldn’t outgrow them so quickly. He chose hooks so that everyone would know he was different, so he would scare even himself. Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don’t scare her. They don’t keep her away. In fact, they don’t make any difference at all to her. But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from its suffering. Or maybe she’s just a girl who needs love just like he does. “

My Thoughts: At 197 pages (at least that was the length of my ebook), this was a short read that I read in a couple of hours. The narrative goes back and forth between Lucius and Aurora’s points of view, but they are very short passages, sometimes just one sentence. There’s a sort of poetic quality to the writing, as if sentences are used sparingly for maximum dramatic effect.

This is a Beauty and the Beast tale, but there’s a lot more going on than this (although it’s one of my favorite tropes). Lucius and Aurora are both high school students going to a new school. They’re both sophomores and encounter different reactions from the student body.  Lucius is treated badly, both for his appearance and rumors of what he’d done to get his hooks, but Aurora is immediately accepted and well liked. The way it was written, it conveyed high school and family in a believable way. Lucius is an outsider but he didn’t strike me as a real bad boy, despite what he’d done (and this book’s cover). His attitude was more of an intelligent guy who is marginalized by others, but I liked how Aurora trusted her own judgment in him. I could see this happening in any high school with regular students rather than a Hollywood version of high school with the usual cliches. There’s the idea of starting over, which both Aurora and Lucius have to do, going with or against the crowd, rumors, the consequences of your actions and a really sweet romance. And had a couple of laughs at Lucius’s sarcastic sense of humor, especially when he goes shopping with his younger sister and is forced to discover how pitiful his fashion sense is.

When I look at other reviews for this book I see people wanting more to the story, wanted to see more of what happened after it ended, but I didn’t have so much of that problem just because I knew that the book was short, and I guess I had that in the back of my mind. I think I ended liking it better than them. The only minor complaint I’d have is wanting to know a bit more about what Lucius was up to when he blew up his hands. It takes a while before we get there and when we do, his reasons behind it weren’t delved into and I wish they were, but maybe this book didn’t want to focus on the past as much as focus on moving forward.

Overall: I liked this quite a bit. A short, feel-good kind of read with a sweet romance in it.

Buy: Amazon | B&N

Reviews elsewhere (seems to be rated average by most, so I think I liked it a better than them. Main issue was wanting more fleshing out to the story):
Genrereviews – 3 pints of blood
Fantastic Book Review 3.5 out of 5 stars
Tempting Persephone wanted a bit more

Win it (contest ends Sept 25th) at Fantastic Book reviews