Monthly Archives: February 2013

Cajun Carousin’ to Mountain Meandering

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I’ve been living a Rock’n’Roll lifestyle, traveling first to New Orleans and then to Killington, VT with barely three days between trips.  It’s been exciting, ridiculously fun…and a bit exhausting.

So Sunday morning, I was lounging away at the ski resort debating whether I was motivated enough to get any editing or blogging accomplished when I found myself struck by the extreme contrasts on how I spent the last two Saturdays.  Given that the thought of doing any real work was a bit daunting, I decided to fritter away my time by cataloging said vacations.

The recap:

Morning:

New Orleans, 9:30AM: AWAKE. For some odd (and greatly distressing) reason, my friends and I woke up super early this first morning in NOLA. After a day of travel and hitting Bourbon St until 3AM, we still rolled out of bed before a decent hour (and by decent, I of course mean noon).  I just didn’t understand it.

Killington, 9:30AM: ASLEEP. Thank God!

Afternoon:

New Orleans: After getting ready, the girls and I finally managed to sneak out of the hotel around noon, and hopped in a cab to Mahoney’s Po-Boy Shop. The adventure began here with our charming local NOLA driver, albeit he was a blatant racist. Though I imagine he’s the type who wouldn’t consider himself racist. You know the type, like your older racist grandpa who served in the military and makes off color comments about pretty much very other ethnic group or demographic except his own.  While I find racism abhorrent, he reminded me of my grandfather so I largely ignored his prejudicial comments and instead focused on his anecdotes about the city. Luckily, it was only a 10-15 minute cab ride because the comments had almost reached their all too uncomfortable limit when we arrived at our destination.

On to the food:  Mahoney’s. We shared three delicious po-boys (Fried Oyster, Shrimp & Fried Green Tomato, and Roast Beef) plus we each indulged in a round of Bloody Marys that were pretty darn delicious.  So a little toasty now and very full with food, we sauntered back to the hotel, taking our time to check out the cute artisan shops along the way. A quick stop at the hotel and then we were hopping back in a cab, this time headed to the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery.  Upon entering, they served us a Mango Peach Tea (spiked with rum of course) and then led us on the tour.  Honestly, the tour was pretty decent but I got a little bored and just wanted to get to the tasting already…and boy it was an awesome tasting! The tour guy just poured out TONS of samples of each of their 5 rum selections, and you could have multiple tastings of each type if you wanted. So good! I liked their Cajun Spice Rum (a specialty rum infused with cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, etc) the best so I picked up a bottle and a very cute wooden spoon with a hot buttered rum recipe carved into it. With all this excitement over, we grabbed dinner and then commenced to take a very long evening nap.

Killington: Lazy morning followed by lunch at Wally’s. It’s an old-timey diner complete with its own fresh orange juicer conveyer belt system.  All the food is always delicious and so fresh.  My boyfriend and I decided on Bloody Marys so this is the only part of the comparison that makes an appearance two weeks in a row. 🙂  I drank about 1/3 of mine before the food came out so I was already feeling a bit “relaxed” when my boyfriend made arrangements for our snowmobiling tour through the mountain.

Since I was still feeling my afternoon drink, I said ‘sounds awesome but you drive.’ It was really amazing! Since I’ve only skied once (and not that well), I had never been high up in the mountains during any of our VT vacations.  It was so delightful to sit back while he zipped us around.  It was lightly snowing and everything was covered with brilliant white snow–not the yellowy dank snow we get in New York.  So beautiful! It really made me want to learn to ski so I could make my way into the mountains more often.  At one point, our tour guide stopped to take a picture of us and as we started back down the trail, there was a woman snowshoeing downhill with a baby swaddled to her front, and I thought that’s awesome and crazy and where the heck am I??!!! I mean it was a ski resort not the wilderness.  Astounding! With our snow adventure over, we joined our friends in the hot tub.  Nothing better than soaking in a hot tub after a cold weather excursion though it was still snowing at the time so it was a little brutal on the face (not to mention that the jets were a little aggressive) but overall I was warm and content!

Evening/Night:

New Orleans: Left the hotel at Midnight. While I’m no wallflower, I wholly admit that starting a night out at midnight is a younger girl’s game but missing Saturday night out in NOLA wasn’t really an option.  My friends and I were all a little disorientated from our nap but preserved and ended up having a crazy night out.  I won’t go into details except to say I made it back to the hotel at 5:30 AM.  Don’t worry nothing too scandalous happened just lots of bar hopping and meeting/flirting with random groups of boys. Good times! Yay, girls’ weekend! It had been way too long.

Killington: Our group headed to the Wobbly Barn, a steakhouse and weekend nightlife venue.  First, we headed downstairs to the restaurant for a leisurely dinner (and an amazing glass of Meritage for me).  After dinner, we went upstairs for some dancing.  The band was already in full swing.  My boyfriend pulled me to the dance floor almost immediately and I don’t think we stopped dancing for three hours.  It was so much fun! Around 1AM we headed back to the hotel and went to sleep on the earlier side, and when I say earlier I just mean I didn’t see the sun rise this Sunday. 🙂

End result: New Orleans was a roller coaster of drinking and eating at night tempered with city exploration and book research during the day.  Killington was a relaxed vacation with outdoor sports and spending time with the boyfriend.  Both weekends were so much fun but just so different.

Smugglers, Dirigibles, and Valentines, O My!

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Last month, I reviewed Heather Hiestand’s novella, Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas, the first title in her Steampunk Smugglers series.  If you read my review, then you know I wasn’t overly impressed.  However, I decided to give Hiestand another chance. Why? Because despite the obvious flaws in the first story, it definitely had an interesting premise and some solid world-building. So with Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I choose to indulge with Captain Fenna’s Dirigible Valentine. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. 

Background: Three years ago, Terrwyn Fenna was arrested during a smuggling raid and consigned to London’s corrupt Newgate Prison. During her imprisonment, she was subjected to significant torment and sexual exploitation– abuse that ultimately resulted in pregnancy.   With a little bit of luck (and lots of help), she managed to escape just prior to giving birth. 

Flash forward two months later: Terrwyn lives in hiding outside of London, desperately trying to maintain a low profile.  Unfortunately, her safe haven is compromised when she encounters a few officers from the British Air Force. She flees and avoids getting recaptured by securing command of a new airship and resumes the family smuggling business. All of her focus centers on rebuilding her air pirate reputation and keeping her daughter safe. As you can imagine, her harrowing experiences in prison have left her uninterested in men. That is until she finds herself increasing drawn to Ian Cavil, one of her crewmen.

Ian is no stranger to imprisonment himself. In fact, he has only recently escaped his enslavement aboard a military airship run by the Blockaders, a government group that kidnaps unsuspecting men and forces them into military service. Smuggling life proves to be advantageous for the duo until Terrwyn is discovered by an old enemy. The ensuring drama draws both Terrwyn and Ian back into the clutches of those who would enslave them, and they must work together to maintain their freedom.

Captain Fenna’s Dirigible Valentine is far better than the author’s first attempt.  The plot has a clearer focus and more streamlined storyline.  The sequel’s longer length probably has the added benefit of allowing the plots to resolve themselves more naturally rather than forcing a happy ending. My big complaint with this book centers on the lack of real depth given to the main character regarding her heinous abuse in prison.  Hiestand never really explores the long-lasting emotional trauma except in a way that feels too one-dimensional for such a strong topic. It’s as though she wanted her character to be flawed but didn’t want to really touch on the dark aspects of sexual abuse.  That said Terrwyn is a likeable, more fully fleshed out character than the first installment’s heroine so I give the author credit for imaging a stronger main character this time around.

A bit of warning: this story isn’t very Valentine-y or overly romantic despite the name (or its romantic side plot for that matter).  However, I recommend Captain Fenna’s Valentine Dirigible if you want a quick, fast-paced read filled with airships, mechanicals, automatons and adventure.  Even though it is the series’ second title, there is enough background information present to make reading the first title unnecessary. 

Find it at any of your favorite online retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Smashwords