Writing Portfolio

Young Adult Fiction

Reviews & Essays

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I began writing book reviews in January 2011, two years after finishing my Master’s degree in Literature. Over the years, I have published my reviews in various places online, including my own book blog for a time. I particularly enjoy re-reading and reviewing the original Nancy Drew series and other novels that I enjoyed in my childhood, as well as the occasional contemporary YA novel. I sometimes review other types of fiction and non-fiction that I’m currently reading as well.

To get a sense of my tone and writing style in more casual contexts, scroll through the different books that I've reviewed and pick a favorite or two.

A Northern Light

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and also came highly recommended from several book bloggers, so my expectations for this novel were high. And let me be clear from the start: it more than met my expectations.

Donnelly’s protagonist is actually the most believable feminist character that I’ve read in a very long time. A poo...

Ring Of Endless Light

A Ring of Endless Light

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

As I have read and re-read Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet, I have to admit that I’ve found most of the series less than thrilling. The exception has been A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which I really enjoyed. For this reason, I was hesitant to pick up another one of L’Engle’s novels, but reviews of A Ring of Endless Light are so positive all around that I decided to give the author one more shot...

Wind In The Door

A Wind in the Door

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

In the Newberry-winning novel A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L’Engle introduced readers to Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe. The three children were called upon to rescue Meg’s father from a monstrous, disembodied force that sought to absorb all creatures with free will. Now, in the second book of L’Engle’s Time Quintet, Meg and Calvin are once again visite...


A Wrinkle in Time

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

A Wrinkle in Time, the first book in Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet, begins very much like many other children’s adventure stories: with an unhappy adolescent. Meg Murry feels unattractive with her braces and glasses, her grades are steadily dropping, and she’s getting into fights at school. Her father went away on a business trip and never came back, and now rumors are flying around town that Dr. Mur...

Boy Roald Dahl


Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

In You’ve Got Mail, one of my favorite movies, Meg Ryan plays a Manhattan Children’s bookstore owner whose shop is a treasured part of their neighborhood until a chain store moves in around the corner and puts her out of business. Ryan’s character is a sweet, whimsical woman who holds a reading hour for the children in her shop; dressing up in a princess hat and calling herself the Storybook Lady, one Sa...



Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

Philip Pullman’s novella Clockwork, which won a Children’s Choice Award in 1999, is one of four fairytales in the collection Four Tales. This particular story illustrates how situations in life often work together as intricately as the machinery within a time piece, with circumstances driving one another much like the cogs and wheels of a clock. The story is written in the deceptively simplistic l...

Coraline 01


Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

Having enjoyed the Newbery-winning The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, I was excited to check out Coraline, his other children’s novel. Coraline was awarded the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 2002 Bran Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers. This book should be a good one.

But as I read through the first fifty pages or so...


Island of the Blue Dolphins

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

While I was earning my Master’s Degree in Literature, I was assigned to read Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe one semester. I have to admit that it was the only novel that I chose not to finish during my entire graduate school career – I could only take so many of the tedious ledgers and descriptions of the shipwrecked man’s available building supplies. I was so bored that I felt like throwing the book ac...

Little House

Little House in the Big Woods

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

Although I did not read a lot of historical fiction when I was a child, the Little House books were once series that I remember enjoying (although I was never a fan of the television series). I’m sure it has been almost twenty years since I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novels about life in the vast woods and prairies of Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri. I always knew the rough pioneer life wa...

Mandie And The Secret Tunnel

Mandie and the Secret Tunnel

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

It had been something like twenty-five years since I first read the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard when I discovered the series had been published on Kindle. I already remembered some of the characters well, such as Mandie’s handsome friend Joe Woodward, her Uncle Ned the Cherokee Indian, and her kitten Snowball. But as I re-read Mandie and the Secret Tunnel, the first volume in the series, my memory of...

Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest, the winner of the 2011 Newbery Award, is a story about stories. One summer, Gideon Tucker sends his twelve-year-old daughter Abilene to live with his friend Pastor Shady in Manifest, Kansas, his former hometown. He tells Abilene that the separation will only last a summer, while he is working for the railroad. But she still feels lonely and abandoned, and as she tries t...

Hidden Staircase Original

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1930)

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

Note: this is a review of the ORIGINAL version of The Hidden Staircase, published in 1930. Want to know the plot differences between this story and the revised version that was published in 1959? Check out The Hidden Staircase Wikipedia article.

In The Secret of the Old Clock, the first volume of Mil...

Hidden Staircase

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1959)

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

Back before cell phones existed and women were apt to sit anxiously at home by the phone waiting for news, Nancy Drew went zipping through her Midwestern town in her sporty blue convertible. She would be leaving the scene of a burglary or a supposedly haunted house and going to the local police station – to deliver the evidence she had found in person. Refreshingly, the police appreciated her independent, take-charge...

Peter Pan Wendy 02

Peter Pan and Wendy

Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

When I was young, my family had a video recording of a stage version of Peter Pan, which starred Mary Martin as the title character. I didn’t have a particular dislike for the movie, but neither did I find it very compelling – I wasn’t so entranced with the story to remain a devoted fan the way I have with C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. To be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed with Mary Martin h...



Review by Lauren Alise Schultz

In early February 2011, seventy-one-year-old Children’s Fantasy author Brian Jacques passed away. His obituary in the New York Times started out with the following description:

“He was a longshoreman and a long-haul trucker; a merchant mariner and a railway fireman; a boxer, a bus driver and a British bobby. But it wasn’t until he became a milkman that Brian Jacques found his métier. ...

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