Book Review: Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Title: Arsenic and Adobo
Author: Mia P. Manansala
Genre: Adult Mystery / Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…” (Goodreads)

Before this book I had never read a Cozy Mystery before. I have read books in the Mystery / Thriller genre but it was nice to read something less thrilling that still kept my attention and had me trying to guess the outcome of the murder!

Lila Macapagal has recently moved back to help her aunt and grandma with the family restaurant. She hasn’t had the best of time being back as her ex-boyfriend is a dillweed. Seriously, he is the worst! Now there has been a death at the restaurant and she must investigate to clear her name with the help of family, friends, and others in the community.

This book has a lot of togetherness whether it comes from the community or those closer to her like friends and family. I am always here for bonds like that because it just shows how caring those around us can be, even from people you don’t really know. Her friendship with Adeena is a great one but they do have their struggles as well. I liked seeing them work through it. I also loved her familial bonds! It reminded me a lot of the one from Dial A for Aunties.

When it came to the plot I was pleasantly surprised with the mystery of it all. I kept thinking I had it figured out but I was completely off! I really had no idea until just right before the big reveal, ha. It kept me intrigued and I honestly binged the whole book. It was hard to put down.

There is also a lot of talk about food. I liked the glossary in the beginning to help with pronunciation and giving a description of what it is. I have ate lumpia before and boy, did it make me hungry for it!

Overall, this was a really fun read. I’ll definitely be checking out more Cozy Mysteries and can’t wait for the next installment of this series.

Arc Review: Dial A for Aunites by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Title: Dial A for Aunties
Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance / Mystery
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Publisher: Berkley

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!

“A hilariously quirky novel that is equal parts murder mystery, rom-com, and a celebration of mothers and daughters as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture, by debut author Jesse Q. Sutanto.

1 (accidental) murder
2 thousand wedding guests
3 (maybe) cursed generations
4 meddling Asian aunties to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working, at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for their family wedding business—“Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream cake flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?” (Goodreads)

This book was definitely the most unique rom-com I have ever read by far.

Meddelin Chan has grown up knowing about a curse that ultimately leaves the women in her family menless. She stays close to home unlike her cousins and remains close to her family, which includes her aunts and her mother, and helps with their wedding business as a photographer.

The family in this book is one that I really liked. They were always there for her even if that means concealing a dead body, ha. Just like any other family, they also meddle especially her mom who tries to find her a husband. All of this played into the plot well and made for some funny moments. I also liked the author’s note about how the character’s resemble her family in ways.

I did mention funny moments and although I laughed a bit, there were also times that should have been funny but they just weren’t for me and I am sure this is just because of my own preference on what I find funny. My sense of humor is kind of bland and I do think other readers will like the quirkiness of the story more than me. But it’s not like I didn’t like it overall. I’m complicated. 🤷‍♀️😂

The romance is one that involves a second chance at love with the one who got away. There is a bit of development for it as there are past-tense chapters to explain what happened between them and why it didn’t work the first time. There isn’t too much development in the present-tense but I think this is due to the other plot points which I didn’t mind.

Overall, I liked this one and am looking forward to more books by this author.