Books & Beans: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Series)

I haven’t done a book review in some time and I believe it is overdue. Especially since my last book review was part of a series and I left you hanging on the first book. Now, I know some of you subscribe to this blog because of the interesting relational topics discussed, but for those who read and enjoy the book reviews, I have decided to call this time Books & Beans. You will get a book review and a coffee/tea pairing to perfectly match the novel. Let’s begin Bookites!

The Book: The Scorch Trials (Book 2)
The Author: James Dashner
The Genre: Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic

7631105

After getting off the rollercoaster ride that is the first book in this series, you might think a breather is in order. Maybe you pick up an in between stand-alone just to take the edge off. Then, that nagging feeling starts gnawing away in the back of your mind. You need to know. You need to know what happens next. Everything was left at such a critical point, SPOLIER ALERT They finally gained their freedom and seemingly defeated WCKD. They are given all the reassurance that they are safe and protected from the clutches of their previous tormentor. Just as they are settling into this new life, a massive wrench gets thrown in and you realize, this is just the beginning.

This second installment exposes a whole new world, beyond the maze. You get to experience it with the characters as they venture out into the “real world”, the condition of which is a far cry from anything they had spent countless nights imagining. Phase 2 of what they are being put through is beginning and it’s one of pushing the boundaries of each character. Our hero, Thomas, gets betrayed in the most heart-wrenching way; and it so marks him that he is never the same after that point.
Everything is manipulated, controlled. They are puppets in a show, mice in a maze; and for the supposed benefit of humanity. They are the keys to unlocking the future, though they can barely recall their own names. They must get through, they must survive and that’s the name of the game. In the process of all this, new connections are made and old ones will be severed. True tests of friendship will occur and the truth will be exposed about who can be trusted and who can’t.

FANGIRL MOMENT:
A character is introduced in this book that I feel in love with immediately, Brenda. She is a fast talking, brazen and supposedly diseased character. Most importantly, she will push Thomas in ways that have him questioning everything he set his foundation on in the first book. Can you say, love triangle?

This novel has it all: adventure, love, mind bending plots, crazy twists and turns. By the time you get to the end of it, you’ll feel like you just ran a marathon. So much emotion, so much distrust arises (for me as the reader). The mysteries do continue to unfold, but again, are like drops of water in the desert. Dashner gives you just the right amount of information that keeps you going and pressing forward; but not enough to make accurate predictions of the future; and in true trilogy fashion, beautifully sets you up for the final book, with a nice and juicy cliffhanger.

If you interested in more information on the book or other’s opinions of it, check out the link below:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7631105-the-scorch-trials?from_search=true

COFFEE TIME
This book has more bitter than sweet, so I’m gonna have to pull out all the stops to figure out what would pair perfectly. I would say a French press of…

French Roast

It’s a dark roast that is described as smoky and singular. Now, if that ain’t scorching, I don’t know what is!

Grab a pound from Starbucks, by clicking on to the following link:
http://store.starbucks.com/starbucks-french-roast-whole-bean/011028473,default,pd.html

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Heather and the Happily Ever After

I was feeling nostalgic the other day and went exploring through old videos on YouTube of songs I used to listen to years ago. I came across a song that talked about not needing a man because they were happy being free, doing their own thing, etc… They didn’t need a ring around their finger, so on and so forth. I find this comical, when on the same album majority of their songs are about finding a man and falling in love. Isn’t that the perfect picture of human nature? We are, all of us, walking contradictions. None of the feelings that provoked the writing of these songs are any less legitimate just because one school of thought may be in opposition to another. I think, as women, we want to be independent and self-sufficient because it’s a necessary part of life and it’s also greatly empowering. I think we also want to be loved and taken care of. These are two very real and valid parts of who we are. Furthermore, I don’t think one should be sacrificed on the altar of the other.

The issue is when any one side dominates an individual’s life. I was always a hopeless romantic even before I really understood the concept of love. It was everywhere and in everything. Movies, music, human behavior, etc… All I had to do was step outside my door and it was there. In every kiss, intertwined hand, hug, etc… I was conditioned from my early years to desire love and relationships. Now, there are all kinds of love. The love between a parent and a child, between siblings and friends; but the one kind of love that everyone seemed to be inspired by and clamoring for was the romantic kind.

I was raised by a single mother, so I knew the instability of romantic relationships, yet I still held onto a lot of my naïve sentiments. My mother was also very strong-willed and independent. She taught her children to be the same way. She never told us what out lives were ideally supposed to look like. She never discouraged our dreams, but she also never encouraged them with much beyond a few words. To be plain, she was pretty hands off when it came to guiding us toward a clear path. I was left to look to media and my church family for direction. I think you can tell where this is going. Love. Love was the ultimate goal, the thing to aspire toward, to grab a hold of.

I spent twenty-eight years working toward this goal. After I got saved I talked to married couples, gleaned from experienced woman, read books, listened to sermons, etc… I was preparing myself for my husband. I was confronting my baggage, so that I could have a clean slate in my marriage. I had never worked harder at anything in my entire life. Meanwhile, everything else was put on the back burner, left to simmer and ultimately grow cold.

As I got older and relationships came and went with no wedding ring, no blissfully ever after I became disillusioned, angry, bitter and depressed. I came to realize that I was trying to control the one thing that is uncontrollable and letting die all the things that could have made me happy in the here and now. It was a hard pill to swallow, but I knew I had to come to terms that my focus had been wrong all these years. Don’t misunderstand, this is not about not wanting to be married or find love. This is about having more going on in your life that makes you happy and fulfilled than marriage.

Now, I don’t regret all the growing and learning I went through for marriage because it made me the person I am today. Someone who is whole and happy on her own. However, I do regret that I didn’t focus on my dreams, in terms of my career, sooner. Now, regret is a wasted emotion, so rather than wallow in self-pity I went back to school. It’s true, I will be thirty when I graduate, but I will finally be on the path I always wanted. The one that was overshadowed and placed on the back burner because I thought I had time, that what I was currently doing was more important. The truth is that I may still be single when graduation day comes. I can’t allow my happiness to be entirely dependent on the “one day prince charming will come”; and if I am not doing anything to better my life now, than I can claim that’s not what I am doing all day long, but it would be a lie. So, I’m active, I’m moving forward and making changes for a happier tomorrow; and I’m proud of me.

I am also ecstatic to see that media has finally seen the light and is following suit, encouraging young girls to pursue their dreams and become trailblazers. Be their own knights in shining armor, rather than sitting around, twiddling their thumbs waiting for one. Maybe this generation will finally be the ones to find the balance between independence and love.

Resting Bitch Face Syndrome

The semester is over and so I am back on the blogosphere. Truth be told I never left. Yes, it’s true… I had a blog affair. I was taking an Upper Level Elective writing class for my degree and a large chunk of my grade depended on maintaining a focused blog throughout the session. My blog was centered around book reviews, Young Adult novels in particular; but it’s over now and I am back to my true love, these diaries.

I wish I had some crazy stories or amazing news to give you guys, but the last two months have been the standard daily grind of work and school. I did go to a The 1975 concert and yell at some Laguna Beach looking white kids who were smoking weed in an indoor venue. Look, you want to get high, that’s your own prerogative, but do it in an open space. I’m not for forcing a second hand high on people inhaling your cheap weed cause you don’t have any consideration for others. I’m also not for doing it at their age, they couldn’t have been more than sixteen. I’m also not their parents, though I felt like it in the moment. To be fair, I endured it through two crappy opening bands and had had enough. Weren’t they sufficiently high by this time? So, I threatened them and they stopped for the three minutes I stuck around them.

Things like this are easy for me. I have what they call, “Resting Bitch Face” Syndrome. It doesn’t matter what I am doing or what kind of mood I am in, people only ever have three first impressions of me and I have heard them over and over my entire life: I’m mean, I’m intimidating or I hate them. This is literally the story of my life.

I have spent my entire life explaining myself or apologizing for myself because of this. It’s like people expect me to change my entire personality or my physical appearance to make them feel more comfortable. My state of being affects people’s whole worlds. I have the superhuman ability to shatter their entire existence based on my mood; and no one ever takes my word on how I am actually feeling. Why would I lie about this? I am not passive aggressive. I have no qualms about telling people what I am thinking or what emotional state I am in.

Just recently I went through an incident at work where someone who is related to one of  my co-workers decided that I was just like her husbands ex-girlfriend. Talk about projecting your issues. I had literally said two words to this woman at this point, but she felt comfortable enough to tell me exactly who I was like. In fact, people tell me all the time what they think of me as if because I am a strong person, I am made of steal and devoid of the ability to be hurt or affected by people’s words. It’s always some backhanded compliment, like I am nicer than they expected. How am I supposed to respond in these situations? What are people expecting of me? Do they want me to thank them? Comfort them? Explain myself to them so they can move on with their lives?

This incident with my co-worker’s relative is nothing new for me. I have spent my whole life trying to make other people happy by constantly holding myself back or bending to accommodate their personalities; and never was it reciprocated. All the while, I am miserable thinking the problem is me because I am the common denominator. I’m too strong, too unreadable, too intimidating, too me; but I don’t know how to be anyone else. So, I’ve spent practically my whole life thinking I was wrong, thinking I was too much to handle, too much of a challenge, too difficult. Nothing I did helped this. No amount of smiling, laughing, joking around or quirkiness could undo it. No amount of kindness, consideration or compassion could overshadow it. I was and am, marked for life.

However, something shifted after this particular instance. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was finally done explaining. I was done apologizing. I no longer cared to cater to other people’s opinions of me. Now, I know this might not make me anymore friends. In fact, it could just end up creating more enemies, but I will finally be able to stop beating myself up for something that isn’t actually my problem. I can finally be free to be happy living in my own skin, loving all of me, not just part of me; and that’s enough for me

If you have “Resting Bitch Face” just know that you are not alone. More importantly, you are understood. You have my empathy. What I would like you to know is an age old saying that has literally saved my sanity, “our reactions are our responsibility.” How people respond to you is not your issue or burden to carry around. You have no obligation to justify yourself to anyone. If they don’t understand you than a conundrum you will remain. It’s not your job to bring peace to their world over who you are and what you are about. Be yourself unapologetically. Be free.