Blog Tour: Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen

On tour with Sourcebooks.

I'm super excited to welcome Jordan Jacobs to my blog today! He's going to share with us some unusual food experiences. He cracked me up and grossed me out (especially that last one) all at the same time. Lol! Definitely check it out! Then scroll down for the book info and my review.

Top Ten Travel Food Experiences
by Jordan Jacobs

I’m very lucky to have traveled to around 50 countries--for research, work, and fun. I love how travel challenges my sense of what’s normal, and alerts me to the parts of my own culture that I simply take for granted.

This is a something I explore in my writing, as well. As I drop brave Samantha Sutton into places that are very foreign to her--Peru, in the first book, Labyrinth of Lies, and England in Winter of the Warrior Queen--I want to show that the cultural discomfort she feels is more often than not a product of her own perspective.

Food’s an easy way to make this point, and--with its potential gross-out factor--a fun thing to explore in kids’ books. Below are the things I’ve eaten in my travels that have most challenged my own worldview on what’s normal-- and edible--and what is not.

1. Guinea Pig (Peru)
“Cuy” have been a staple of Andean cuisine for centuries. I first encountered them in food form at a community picnic, and probably turned a little green as I watched their preparation from cage to plate. The biggest hurdle for me was the plating: butterflied, whole (they taste, not surprisingly, like rabbit). Sam has a similar experience in Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies.

2. Jellied eels (UK)
Samantha Sutton bravely faces this dish in Winter of the Warrior Queen. A standby in eastern England since Roman times or earlier, jellied eels are exactly what they sound like: segments of eel, suspended in their own gelatin. The texture seems a little like dessert (my own cultural bias here, of course), but with lots of hot sauce, they’re not half bad.

3. Flash-Cooked Moths (USA)
This was at a summer camp in Oregon, between seventh and eighth grade. Using a technique dating back--or so the counselor said--thousands of years, we grabbed handfuls of tiny moths from a notch in a cliff face and threw them through the campfire, killing and cooking them instantly. Plucked up from the dirt, the now wingless torsos had the taste and yielding crunch of shelled sesame seeds. Nutty!

4. Durian (Cambodia)
Going to Southeast Asia, I was eager to seek out this fruit of ill-repute. IT wasn’t hard. It’s the smell that’s made durian notorious, and why the fruit is banned from hotels, businesses, and public places throughout the region. And yeah, it is that bad (some say rotting flesh, I say sunbaked garbage). But they taste like a slightly funky custard, and I totally get their appeal.

5. Scrapple (USA)
The Pennsylvania-Dutch roots are all on my side of the family, but it was my wife’s Berks County grandma who introduced me to this staple of my forebears. Scrapple is a collection of meat scraps, congealed, sliced and fried. It was the texture that I found tough to deal with: a little too mushy, a little too...damp.

6. Crickets (Mexico)
These were for sale all along the path to the top of Cholula’s Great Pyramid, and I had to give them a try. They were actually a pleasant surprise. The chili flavoring helps with the gag factor, and they do have a pleasant crunch. What’s not so fun is finding legs between your teeth for the rest of the day!

7. Frog Soup (Vietnam)
This was the specialty of a restaurant close to my Hanoi hotel, and I gradually worked up the courage. I was expecting just the legs to be involved, and was surprised when the little guys were served bobbing in a broth, boiled and whole. I couldn’t manage more than one.

8. Horse Burgers (Slovenia)
Another specialite-de-la-maison situation, this time at a cozy mountain inn on the shores of snowy Lake Bled. Sea Biscuit was served in patty form, with potatoes and veggies. Good, hearty stuff.

9. Live Scallop Sashimi (USA)
I’m a big sushi fan, so when I got a gift certificate to a big-name New York sushi restaurant, I was eager to use it. Among other fresh specialties, the place is known for its very fresh scallop sashimi. How fresh? Alive fresh: served just moments after it’s pulled from its shell and strapped to a bar of rice with a thin seaweed band. It was delicious, even if eating it feels like chewing and swallowing an undulating tongue.

10. Buffalo Paste (Laos)
This one was tough. Arriving in Luang Prabang hours after the restaurants were closed, dinner was graciously provided by the very kind proprietor of my guest house. On the menu: the local specialty--Mekong River weeds, fried into chips, with a side of mashed water buffalo skin for dipping. The weeds were fine, like crispy spinach. But the paste was sour and gamey, and full of tiny hairs. Desperate not to offend, I did my best: easily the most challenging eating experience of my life.

Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen
Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen
by Jordan Jacobs
Middle Grade Action/Suspense
Paperback368 Pages
January 7th 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky               


Another thrilling adventure awaits this bold heroine…
Twelve-year-old Samantha Sutton isn't sure she wants to go to England with her Uncle Jay, a brilliant, risk-taking archeologist. But the trip seems safe enough--a routine excavation in Cambridge--and Samantha has always had a love for the past.

At first the project seems unremarkable--just a survey to clear the way for a massive theme park. But everything changes when Sam uncovers something extraordinary. Are the local legends true? Is this the site of the ancient fortress belonging to Queen Boudica, the warrior queen? What treasures might be found?

When others begin to learn of her findings, Samantha senses she is in danger. Can any of her friends be trusted? Samantha will need to solve the mystery of the site in order to protect herself and let the world know of her remarkable discovery.


My Review

I love suspense and action in my books. Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior King has plenty. The prologue had me wondering right away who the villain was going to be and what exactly Samantha found that she is trying to flee with. As I read, I was thinking about my middle-grader and how he would love this book!

I liked that Samantha's character acted her age. She has had some experiences, some not so good, in the past that have matured her in some ways, but really she is still just a tween with all of the insecurities that come along with that. Her brother and uncle and the other characters were all great. Several cracked me up or made me want to roll my eyes *cough* (Evan).

I found the story interesting and fun. Yes, fun, even though it is supensful. I'm definintely planning on checking out the first book, Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, and sharing them with my middle grader.

Content: Clean

Source: From the publisher/NetGalley, which did not affect my review in any way.

About the Author

Jordan Jacobs’ career as an archaeologist began with a love of mummies, castles, and Indiana Jones. He journeyed to his first archaeological excavation at age 13 in California’s Sierra Nevada. A Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge-educated man, Jordan has worked as an archaeologist at world-class institutions such as The Smithsonian and The American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Jordan is passionate about public awareness for the illicit looting of artifacts at globally important archaeological sites. He works with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), where his recommendations have helped to protect historic sites and to alert agents around the world about precious artifacts smuggled on the black market. Jordan is currently a senior specialist at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.

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