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Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

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Plot Summary: When Jonathan Harker pays a visit to the castle of Count Dracula, it sets in motion a terrible chain of events that threaten him and those around him.

My Review: One of the best things about this book is that the author makes you feel scared through action and description. It’s like he has a camera that freezes a tense or scary moment in the story and gives you vivid details.

Some lines that demonstrate this are the following: “There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth.”

Another great thing about this book is Count Dracula himself. Although he is evil, he is a very interesting character that pop culture references barely scratch. He has many strengths and weaknesses that make him formidable. A personal favorite trait is the power to control wolves.

In addition, the book has some good words of wisdom sprinkled here and there.

One phrases states,”I have tried to keep an open mind, and it is not the ordinary things of life that could close it, but the strange things, the extraordinary things, the things that make one doubt if they be mad or sane.”

When it comes to the novel’s faults, one of them is  the sexism toward women. There are quotes such as, “A brave man’s blood is the best thing when a woman is in trouble.” that will touch the nerve of female readers. However, the character of Mina Harker makes up for it somewhat. She is an intelligent, clever, pious, and resilient woman.

Besides this, the author’s writing style can be bothersome until you get used to it. Sometimes, the description can be too much and the third person point of view may disappoint and confuse, even as it adds depth to the plot.

All in all, this was a very good book. I recommend this book to anyone who likes horror stories or classics.

Written by Serena Zola

October 30, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Neil Gaiman On Reading and My Two Cents

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I was making my usual rounds on the Huffington Post when I saw this link to an article about why author Neil Gaiman thinks reading is important for the future. The article is lengthy, but thought-provoking.

As an avid reader and aspiring author, I agree with every word Gaiman said. The only thing that would impress me more is if Gaiman turned this lecture into a fantasy novel. However, I want to add a few things.

First, fiction is not the only genre that can impact a reader.

As they get older, kids get exposed to other things and have to read non-fiction. If they have to do a paper on their favorite author, then they will have to read biographies or autobiographies.

If a reader enjoys an author’s work enough to read the author’s  biography or autobiography, then the reader might appreciate the author’s work even more. The same thing can apply if you read a biography or autobiography about any creative or innovative person.

By reading more about certain people, you can learn to appreciate certain aspects of life more or want to do something to improve it.

Secondly, reading fiction has a special message for some readers. That message is, “You are not alone.”

One of the worse things that you can feel is that you’re only person experiencing something. Finding a character in a fictional work going through the same thing you are is as comforting as a warm hug.

Last but not least, I think the ultimate reason reading is important is that it inspires other people to express themselves through any medium.

The short stories I have been writing as practice have been influenced by teen fiction, news stories, and a little personal experience. Some of my poetry has a similar influence, but has also been inspired by classic poets.

Without people reading books, the world wouldn’t be where it is today.  I will always be grateful for libraries, books, and the authors who write them.

Written by Serena Zola

October 18, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Random Post: A-Z Book Survey Answers

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Credit: Krys from Black n’ Write

I was doing my daily rounds on my WordPress Reader and I saw this post by Black ‘n’ Write about this book survey. Being a book nerd in need of something fun and different to do, I decided to fill it out!

Author You’ve Read The Most Books From:

I’m pretty sure it’s Lemony Snicket but let me go to Goodreads and make sure. Yep, I’m right.

Best Sequel Ever:

There are many authors I can think of,  but in order to avoid mentioning the same author twice, I’ll say every book after Alanna: The First Adventure in the Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce.

Current Reading:

Villette by Charlotte Bronte. This could take a while (curse you slow pacing!).

Drink of Choice While Reading:

I never drink anything while reading except water to keep myself hydrated.

E Reader or Physical Book?


Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School:

Ponyboy Curtis from The Outsiders. Don’t care if he is a Greaser; his love of literature and his deep view of things is so wonderful!

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance:

The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. These books exposed me to great supernatural bonds and powers and a kick-ass heroine. Not to mention, a better vampire series than Twilight.

Hidden Gem Book:

Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi. Would have never known about this book without the site MyAnimeList and the author’s request for reviewers.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:

Sometime when I was in community college, I realized I could appreciate other genres besides teen fiction and fantasy. I discovered other genres and had fun doing it.

Just Finished:

The last book I finished reading was The Korean Word for Butterfly by James Zerdt.  It was good, but it could have wrapped up better and had less spelling errors.

Kind of Books You Won’t Read:

Mystery. I have no patience for every detail in a story about solving a crime.

Longest Book You Ever Read:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Not sure of the exact page number, but I know it’s over a thousand pages long.

Major Book Hangover Because of:

The Diary of Anne Frank. When I read it the first time, I cried at the end. Her spirit will haunt me forever.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

One, but only because my room is small. I also have manga and books piled in a drawer.

One book you have read multiple times:

The Outsiders by S.E, Hinton. It’s one of my favorite books and my inspiration as an aspiring young adult author 🙂

Preferred Place to Read:

Leaning against a furry purple back rest on my bed in my room

Reading Regret:

None that I can think of.

Series You Started and Need to Finish:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I have the entire series in one movie-edition.

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books:

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Tears for Water by Alicia Keys (yes, the singer)

The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth by Alexandra Robbins

Unapologetic Fan Girl For:

The Harry Potter Series. I mean come on, this was my childhood and my introduction to fantasy fiction and mythology!

Very Excited for This Release More Than All Others:

Meh. It’s been a little while since I got excited about a new book release…

Worse Bookish Habit:

Finding excuses not to read a book when it gets slow. Did I mention I’m currently reading such a book?

X-Marks The Spot (Start at the top-left of your shelve and count to the 27th book):

My 27th book (if you count the books stacked on top books) is The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference by Writers Digest. I bought this for reference purposes and possible inspiration.

Your Latest Book Purchase;

Ha! I don’t really buy regular books anymore (or manga for that matter). However, the last book I bought was a manga titled Magic Knight Rayearth II Omnibus Edition. I bought it on my b-day back in February so I could have the complete Magic Knight Rayearth series ^_^

ZZZ Snatcher Book ( A book that kept you up wayyy late)

It was only half an hour past my bed-time but the book that did this to me was Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

Written by Serena Zola

August 14, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Physical Books VS E-Books

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A few years ago, I did not have a Kindle. I thought, “What’s the point? It’s not like it will be useful for me. I’m good with getting the books I want to read from the library.”

During the summer and fall of 2011, a couple of things started to change mind. That summer, I started wishing I could take more than one book with me when I travel. I have a small backpack that is enough for a few bottles of water and a book for pleasure reading. Yet, I found myself wanting to take some how-to-write books in order to inspire my writing.

One day when I returned to class that fall, I decided to check out a classic book from the campus library. I don’t recall what book it was, but I found myself a little disgusted because it was old, worn-out, and sticky. I didn’t check it out and didn’t want to try at my local library because I didn’t want another book in bad condition. Not all classic books are like that, but it made me feel like getting books in a good condition was like finding a needle in a haystack.

When the holiday season came up, I told my older sister that I wanted a Kindle. She complied to my request and the word of e-reading was open to me.

I discovered that Kindle ebooks on as well as sites like Project Gutenberg had free e-books of classics. I also bought my first e-book, Writing YA Fiction for Dummies , using an Amazon gift card I got with the Kindle.  I enjoyed using the Kindle, but I still liked reading books I could physically hold in my hands.

Having a Kindle has some advantages. I don’t have to worry about old classic books falling apart anymore. I can take as many books as I want with me now. I can have all the book lines I like highlighted in one place instead of written down in several journals.

Yet, I like the smell that physical books have. If the books have illustrations, then I would rather see and feel them in a physical book than magnify them in a physical book. Sometimes, I like knowing what page number I’m on and the e-book doesn’t have it.

Speaking of books with drawings, I think it is impossible to read a manga (i.e. Japanese comic book) as an e-book. You can’t experience the fun of reading a book right-to-left without actually flipping the pages. Also, you can’t appreciate the artwork without seeing the detail clearly.

To conclude, I like both e-books and physical books. However, unless I want to read a manga I don’t want to buy, I will not be reading it as an e-book.

Written by Serena Zola

February 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Why I Read YA Books

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I read this article about why YA books appeal to adults when it was first published and found it amusing, deciding to bookmark it for a future blog post. Today, I decided to compile a list of reasons about why I read YA books and ask my readers and fellow bloggers, “Why do you read YA Books?” I understand this question might not apply to everybody, but I’m asking out of curiosity because I have a feeling that some of the reasons listed on the article don’t apply.

Here are my reasons in no particular order:

1. As an aspiring young adult author, YA books are my inspiration

For the most part, I read contemporary YA books because that is the exact YA genre I want to write books for. Sometimes, if ideas aren’t coming or I’m frustrated, thinking “Why am I doing this again?” I reread the book that inspired me to write for teens in the first place: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

2.  To remember the comfort received as a teen

A quote from S.E. Hinton about her enjoyment of reading goes, “The act of reading was so pleasurable for me. For an introverted kid, it’s a means of communication, because you interact with the author even if you aren’t sitting there conversing with her.” This sums up perfectly what YA books meant to me as a teen. I didn’t have a lot of close friendships and relationships, so sometimes books and their authors were my closest confidants. They made me experience a wide range of emotions that sometimes matched my own, creating an amazing feeling of empathy. As a result, a very important message was communicated to me: “You are not alone.”

3. To keep up with what everybody (or at least some people)  read

I might not like some of the trends in YA books **coughs** vampires **coughs**, but I like to think that one unlikable trend is connected to a likeable one. For instance, if I had turned my back on the whole paranormal trend completely, I would not have discovered that I enjoy a book from the Riders of the Apocalypse series.

There you have it. Does anybody have the same reasons for reading YA books as I do? Also, what do think of the article I linked to; do you agree with it? Feel free to share your thoughts by commenting!

Written by Serena Zola

January 6, 2013 at 7:37 PM

2013 Reader and Blogger Resolutions

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!                                                                                                         

Taken from

What’s up fellow bloggers and followers? I hope your holidays were great and your New Year will be fantastic! For the first time ever, I have a reader resolution and blogger resolution for this year:

Reader Resolution: Finish the unabridged version of Les Miserables before the end of the year

Ok, I started this book before the holidays. I got curious after I read a few articles about the movie version coming out, asking myself “What is the big deal?” I’m currently about forty percent of the way through the book on my Kindle. Sometimes it is enjoyable and intriguing, other times it is tedious and I end up skipping pages and thinking about starting another novel. Nonetheless, I have highlighted many lines in the book and I hope its ending will be satisfying. I also hope I won’t be too tired of the book to review it.

Blogger Resolution: Be more personal in some of my posts

If you have read any of my op-eds and youth posts, then you know that I already put personal experience into my blogging. However, I haven’t been telling everything, especially when it comes to my experience with bullying. This year, I resolve to tell the entire experience. Furthermore, I plan to review the self-help book Will I Ever Be Good Enough? and discuss how I relate to the book in order to provide a resource for daughters who are traumatized by a narcissistic mother and show those daughters they are not alone.

Written by Serena Zola

January 1, 2013 at 10:30 AM

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