Monday, October 10, 2011

Review of Southern Fried Sushi--with Interview and Give Away!

AP journalist Shiloh P. Jacobs loves her life in Tokyo, her best friend and co-worker Kyoka, and her Argentinian fiance, Carlos. So she spends a bit too much on her credit cards. So Carlos has a new female (but apparently platonic) roommate. So Shiloh forgot to interview the prime minister's wife before the lady left on vacation, and the article is due. So she copied information from an older article she found on the internet...

Then Shiloh's estranged mother dies in Virginia and Shiloh finds herself in the unfamiliar American South to settle affairs. The people are nice, but weird, and Shiloh could say the same about the food.

When Shiloh's links to Japan are brutally severed, how will she manage? Will she accept the South or keep fighting for the Far East? And, some of us want to know, would someone really deep fry sushi? :O

Take a look at that cover! Isn’t it great? I love the blend of cowboy boots and the Japanese fan. The colors are so fresh and I could really ‘get’ the first-person pov straight from the image presented.

Southern Fried Sushi is a cross-cultural tale that sings with authenticity. Shiloh’s deep love for Japan–and her longing to return to Japan when in the South–spoke to me about what makes a place a true home. What causes a person pack up and move halfway around the world? How does a wanderer know when they’ve found a place to belong, a place to put down roots, a place to cling to with all their being?

Back in July, Jenny guest-posted here on the ICFW blog and explained why her book is set in Japan and Virginia instead of where she currently lives. But having a book release in the USA when you live in Brazil, while complicated enough, gains complexity when your country is in the midst of a mail strike! That's right. Jenny hasn't held her book in her own hands yet, though it released October first. What's a gal to do?

Of course, Jenny knew marketing would be challenging, so she had a plan:
I've been on this one for months since I live abroad and don't have the normal range of marketing opportunities. I rely heavily on word-of-mouth to market my books - but that means I need to be visible and be proactive. I don't have any books yet to get away, but I've been posting about my books on Facebook and by email for a long time.

I created a professional website with all sorts of links, developed a Southern food recipe page for contributors, blog about book stuff and writing tips on my personal blog, and have asked for photos of readers with the book (and received something like 40 so far!).

I use book info on my signature in every email and participate in every interview or guest post I'm invited to. I guest post on different sites and always take an opportunity to mention my books and direct people to my sites. Business cards, giveaways through other people's blogs, following up reviews with a thanks and a comment... lots of things!

I think we should give Jenny a hand getting the word out about her book. Check out her blog and have a look at the photos folks have been sending her with their copy of Southern Fried Sushi. I want to give one of you the chance to join Jenny's Wall of Fame. That's right! Barbour Publishing sent me TWO copies of her novel, so I have one to give away*! This opportunity is available only to addresses OUTSIDE the USA (but perhaps not Brazil--no point in having another copy of Jenny's book stuck waiting for the strike to be over!) All you have to do is share a experience you've had (good, bad, or hilarious) with either Japanese or Southern food. If you haven't had either, tell us what you'd like to try! Please add your email address with your comment before Saturday, October15, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com.

Jennifer Rogers Spinola lives in Brasilia, Brazil, with her Brazilian husband, Athos, and two-year-old son, Ethan. She teaches ESL private classes and is the author of Barbour Books' "Southern Fried Sushi" series and an upcoming romance novella collection based on Yellowstone National Park (also with Barbour Books). Jenny is an advocate for adoption and loves the outdoors, photography, writing, and camping. She has previously served as a missionary to Japan, a middle- and high-school teacher, and National Park Service volunteer. Jenny has a B.A. in English/journalism from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughter.

She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. Her first work, a novella, will be available in the collection Rainbow's End from Barbour Books in May 2012. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.

*"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."


  1. Great review, Valerie. I agree with you on the cover. The boots and fan are a very striking cover. This sounds like a fun book.

    Congratulations, Jennifer!

  2. Sounds like a good part of her story is in her book! I was especially interested in Jennifer's novel, Valerie, because I featured the story of how she met Athos...and it was fascinating. You can find it on my blog,entitled "The Ring" from Oct 1 (it's was there for a week.)

  3. Valerie, thanks so much for posting this!! What a great interview! Too bad I can't enter and win and see my own book! Ha ha! :)

  4. Suzie, thanks so much! And Rita, I'm so thrilled that you featured me on your blog! Thank you so much! I hope you both enjoy the novel - and if you do win one or get one, I'd love to have your photo with the book! Valerie, can't wait to see yours! :)

  5. Yay, Jenny! Glad you found the link today.

    No qualified entrants yet for Jenny's book! Remember, here's how you can qualify:

    1. Live outside the USA

    2. Share an experience you've had (good, bad, or hilarious) with either Japanese or Southern food. If you haven't had either, tell us what you'd like to try!

    3. Add your email address with your comment before Saturday, October15, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com

    Good luck! :)

  6. Does alligator qualify as Southern food? I discovered I could've had an alligator burger when I was in Denver a couple years ago, but we never got another chance to eat out after that. Would've loved to give it a try!

  7. My friend is from Kentucky, so one New Year's Eve, I decided to do a Southern Fried Chicken theme for our dinner party. We made mint juleps, and I fried everything in sight. My jaw really dropped though, when she told me to use a quart of milk in the gravy. To my eye, that white, pasty stuff looked totally unappetizing. Mind you, when she saw me make gravy with drippings and potato-water, she was dumbfounded as well. I still don't use milk in my gravy, but she's an advocate for potato water. :-)
    avaldal at shaw dot com

  8. Oh, I looooove milk gravy with sausage! It does look really gross... I won't tell you what I compared it to in one of the "Sushi" books. But it's really wonderful stuff, especially when you slather it across hot, split biscuits. Grits on the side. :) Now you're making me hungry!

  9. Alice, as a fellow Canadian, I second your appreciation for drippings-and-potato-water gravy. Also the water from any veggies making it into the meal. Mmmm.

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  11. Okay here we go: I do remember long time ago having a sort of prejudice of eating Japanese food. My Dad just can't stand it! Having this influence from my Dad, I thought it was something unhealthy for me and maybe only Japanese people were able to eat it properly. (laughs). Fortunately one day when I have decided to abandon my old sedentary lifestyle, so I have found a gym and started to workout seriously and consequently I figured out that I needed to change some old habits starting with the junk food! In a natural way that time I was hanging out with a lot of people that really cares about their bodies and healthy food such as salads and Japanese food as well. I guess it was my first time experience: one day we went as a group to a well-known Japanese Restaurant in Brasilia called "Sushi San". I am not sure if it was there, but anyway i remember that as a beginner in this completely new type of food for me I was eating only the fried dishes, because I considered them as "more normal" and acceptable for my old concept of flavor for a good food. I was the kind of person that only loved barbecue, fried stuff offered in all you can eat sort of restaurants. Japanese food was something too fancy for me! Then little by little (after many trials and a couple of months later) I started enjoying to eat sushi, it was a Brazilian adaptation of sushi, but still was sushi! Then finally one day I was brave that day and I tried for the very first time eating only: raw fish!!! (claps). It's really complicated at the first time I can tell you, (why am I doing that? I questioned myself) it's a long and complicated process of changing, but after this experimental period finished, I don't know and I can't really explain what happened to me, but in a unexpected way, I started to understand that my relationship with food in general just completely changed!(this is for real). Something completely different was happening before my eyes and specially affecting my stomach, my taste and probably chemical changes also happened in my body. (for better I hope so). I still remember when I had a dream desiring to eat sashimi so badly! It never happened with another type of food! That time I was feeling like pregnant woman! (laughs). Sometimes I still have this strong desire, specially if I stay long periods without eating Japanese food. It's a funny feeling guys, I agree, but it's also pretty exciting too. So now I can tell you very honestly specially for those who can't stand Japanese food like my Dad (he said that he tried many times, but he never been a good Japanese Restaurant). If you don't like Japanese food and never even tried it. Maybe is time to give a chance for changes. It's worthy at least to try! But a good advice for you, just keep this in mind: Talk to people that really understands about this specific type of food in advance (I have a few friends, workmates that always give me good suggestions!), so after eating in a very good restaurant and then you might change your mind, like I did in the past. You maybe get surprised, specially about sashimi I hope so! If not at least you tried! The only problem about it for me is that today Japanese food is definitively my favorite food and there are only a few excellent restaurants that are able to offer this "original good quality Japanese food", but all of them are pretty expensive Restaurants. I believe it happens everywhere, probably because they are specialized Restaurants and the professionals must be trained in Japan and also they only work with high quality ingredients/fishes. So that is my positive experience that I enjoyed to share today is about Japanese food. The nightmare became a good dream! Jenny we are praying for your book to be a success. In Jesus. mledes at gmail dot com

  12. Marcelo, this is SO AWESOME!! Thanks so much for posting here! (Marcelo and his lovely wife, Sintique, are our close friends and fellow church members here in Brasilia!)

  13. Thanks, Marcelo! In Canada there are lots of inexpensive restaurants doing Japanese food (or maybe pseudo-Japanese!). You can get sushi from street kiosks in some cities, and from mall food courts in others. I've only had REALLY GOOD Japanese food once, though, and it wasn't from those types of places!

  14. Hi, thank you for the review, and for introducing many of us to Jennifer Rogers Spinola's writing.

    I'm now in Australia, but lived in Tokyo for quite a few years (my new novel will be set in Japan) and had many funny experiences with food. Two that I recall -

    I could always make Japanese friends roar with laughter when I recounted one of my first ever Japanese meals. We were served sashimi (raw fish), and on the plate was a big mound of wasabi, intended to be shared by all, to be stirred into our soy sauce. "Avocado," I thought, taking the entire piece of red-hot (or green-hot) wasabi and putting it in my mouth. I spent the next thirty minutes or so begging for more glasses of water.

    Another time I was invited to a very expensive restaurant for a long meal of plate after plate of tiny Japanese delicacies - unusual vegetables, strange fish dishes, and more- many of them quite unknown to me. So for most of the dinner I really had little idea what I was eating. At one point we were served a dish that we ate with our fingers. After this, as a courtesy, a waitress brought us all oshibori - tiny wet paper hand towels, the kind they sometimes give you on air flights. By this time I was so inured to all the strange dishes, arriving one after another, and not recognizing the oshibori, I simply shrugged and with my chopsticks took up the paper towel and placed it in my mouth and began to chew (and quickly, of course, realized what it really was).

    Good luck to Jennifer with her book.


    Martin Roth
    martinroth (at) optusnet (dot) com (dot) au

  15. Oh my, Martin! I can't imagine wasabi eaten at the rate of avocado. Just sniffing the stuff clears my sinuses!

    Thanks for entering.

  16. Valerie, great review! I love sushi, and it's my regular Thursday lunch :) My first experience with Japanese food was when I was still at school and one of my friends had recently returned from Japan as an exchange student. She gave me sashimi to try, but neglected to tell me until afterwards that it was raw fish! It was really nice and I've enjoyed Japanese food ever since :)

  17. I´m glad to have Jenny as my sister-in-law! The entire family is proud of her! We´re proud of her meticulous observation regarding nature, art, and cultural diversity! She´s a talented mother, wife, cook, and most definitely, writer! Jenny is an influence in my life for her devotion to God and her family! I´m definite that everyone has something to learn from her multicultural background!If I were you, I would give the "Southern Fried Sushi" a try! At first, it may not seem like a perfect match, like anything on earth, but within the Lord´s trail, anything is possible! By the way, I´ve tried a sushi that´s made out of salmon and cream cheese...and guess what!? It´s fried! Here in Brazil it´s everywhere! We call it Hot Filadelfia! I don´t know the background of the dish, but it does seem like a mix from US and Japan!

  18. Kyle, what a great post! Thank you SO much! And I *love* the Hot Filadelfia roll here in Brazil... yum!!

    Since nobody's commented on Southern food yet, I've got to tell you that I LOVE Southern food! Grits are at the top of my list - love them! I love all that fatty stuff like country-fried steak with milk gravy (although I can't eat too much of it!), hot buttered corn, lima beans, collard greens, and country ham. We always had country ham for Christmas at my grandparents' house, and I loved it.

    One of the first things I'm going to buy when we move back to the U.S. is a big ol' bag of grits!

  19. I love Japanese, and eat sushi whenever I can! Here in New Zealand we sometimes get it with kumara inside (local sweet potato) and that is an awesome blend of cultures. I got a sushi kit some time ago and can't wait to try it out!

  20. I don't qualify to be in the drawing, but I can't resist commenting.

    I love, love, love sushi, and live in Texas near Fort Hood, so I get the best of both worlds. :) One of my fave restaurants has Japanese, Chinese, and Korean food (yum), but also fried chicken on the buffet. :) The first time I saw that, it made me chuckle.

    I'll be looking for this book in stores!

  21. Hi Jenny, Well done getting a book released in USA while living in another country. I hope you get to hold a copy in your hands soon.

    This is the first time I've seen a draw open only to readers living outside America.

    I live in South Africa where sushi is freely available but I've never tried it as I don't like the idea of raw fish, but I have to say all the those little dishes of brightly coloured food look very tempting.

    I think I'd like to try a vegetable sushi with no fish- I think there is such a thing!

    My email address is ruthdell (at) mweb (dot) c0 (dot) za

  22. I've never tried Southern food and have always wanted to try the "biscuits and gravy" that seem to pop up in any book set in the South!

    kjisaac (at) ymail dot com

  23. Back in the sixties (!!) I majored in Japanese at Queensland University. Apart from the head of Japanese Studies, all of our lecturers and tutors were Japanese. And of course they wanted to introduce us to Japanese food. In those days in Brisbane though, even now wellknown foods like sushi and sashimi seemed really strange and not many of us were game to try them! It's a different story now, however, with sushi readily available in lots of shopping centres, but I wish I had acquired the taste back then rather than waiting all those years!

  24. Both the title and the cover caught my eye. Love them both. My one week in Japan was great, loved the food except for one bowl of soup that my husband and I were convinced had been dipped out of a pond. Fun memories.

    Congrats on this new release!


  25. Love the title. How awful that you haven't been able to hold your baby in your hands, yet!
    I haven't tried sushi, and can't say that I want to. But I love the fact you can get biscuits wherever you go in the south, even the fast food restaurants!

  26. Jenny got her box of books today!!!

  27. Thank you guys so much! And YES, I finally got my books! :) I can hardly believe it! The colors of the cover are so bright and clear! It's amazing!

    Sandra - I love biscuits!! In N.C. they used to have a chain restaurant called "Biscuitville." :) And have you tried a chicken biscuit from Chick Fil A? Oh, my....

    Lisa, thanks for the congrats! I love Japanese food, too, and yes, there was one thing that I really couldn't stomach... OK, maybe two, if you add natto (fermented soybeans). The thing I disliked the most was called shiokara, and it's a pink paste of fermented squid intestines (if I understand correctly). Whew! I won't elaborate... :)