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Arsenic and Adobo

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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 wh 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…


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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 wh 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…

30 review for Arsenic and Adobo

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Finally my favorite cozy mystery book of the year is out! 🥳🎈🍹 Oh no! I’m literally craving for more this fantastic Filipino family adventures! Why good things end so fast!!! Let me introduce you the stars of this journey briefly: The threatening, tough grandma Lola Flor, sweetest Tita Rosie, entertaining and smart Calendar Trio(sharp tongued April, negotiator May, smart June) our witty, brave, kind hearted, stubborn, tough heroine Lila who has impressive investigation and culinary skills and let’s Finally my favorite cozy mystery book of the year is out! 🥳🎈🍹 Oh no! I’m literally craving for more this fantastic Filipino family adventures! Why good things end so fast!!! Let me introduce you the stars of this journey briefly: The threatening, tough grandma Lola Flor, sweetest Tita Rosie, entertaining and smart Calendar Trio(sharp tongued April, negotiator May, smart June) our witty, brave, kind hearted, stubborn, tough heroine Lila who has impressive investigation and culinary skills and let’s not forget her loyal bestie Adeena who create hell of dreamy drinks and her love interests hot, sweet dentist Jae and charismatic old time crush lawyer Amir. Riveting whodunnit cozy mystery, fantastically witty, adorable, genuine characters and lots of mouth watering foods including Japanese kitchen to American BBQ, Mexican dishes and to die for Filipino recipes: yes, I died and directly went to heaven ( which is impossible: not dying part, the latter) This book is dreamy combination of foodie, coffee addict and thriller fan like me! Lila Macapagal’s story started like romcom cliche: cheated by long time boyfriend, summoned by aunt Rosie to return back to her hometown Shady Palms she ran from for bigger dreams in Chicago to save her family restaurant and her ex lover Derek turns into mean, vindictive food critic who does everything to destroy their business with his slandering reviews. This part sounds like a romcom opening or Nora Ephron romance beginning, isn’t it? You think enemies to lovers theme help two ex lovers resolve their issues and fall in love again! Nope! You couldn’t be so wrong! Because Derek passes out as soon as Lila serves him her special dessert and this is not usual pranks he throws at! He gets poisoned and wait for it : he dies at the hospital because of poisoning and Derek’s stepfather who is also their vindictive landlord blames the family to poison his son! Yes, see the transition from Nora Ephron story to Agatha Christie’s whodunnit page turners ! And Detective Perk, a skillful investigator takes the case and declare Lila as the main suspect! Lila is not only blamed to kill her ex, she’s also blamed on being the ring leader of drug trafficking in town! What??? And Detective Perk is so persistent to put her behind the bars which means Lila should conduct her own investigation to clear her name in two months ( till her court date) Thanks to Calendar Crew aunties’ suspect list: she starts talking with other restaurant owners who suffered the shitty reviews Derek has written to threat their business. I don’t know you my friends but I would have a chance I could read at least three books belong to this captivating series at one sit. I became a true addict! As soon as I finished the book at record time and I started to cry like whining brat who craves more chocolate! All of these characters in the book are like your own family members. Their genuineness warm your heart. They are so natural! You want to hang out with them drinking gallons of tea, munching snacks, having long conversations and observing their miraculous cooking! I hope Ms. Manansala won’t let us wait too long for the sequel! I already started to miss this family as soon as I finished the last page! I’m giving my five gazillion, family bonds, true friendship, mouth watering dishes, riveting mystery, best characters, perfect multicultural representation stars! I’m telling you my friends, this is one of the best of best reads I’ve recently had! I highly recommend to all readers who are big fans of feel good fictions, laugh out loud dark comedy, unputdownable cozy mystery! This is FREAKING AWESOME! Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing For sharing this fantastic digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Reid

    This book hits the exact right spot, in my opinion. I love mysteries and whodunits but in the past few years, I’ve grown weary of all the violence and anxiety that accompany a lot of true crime or murder mysteries. Somehow—I still don’t quite know how??—Mia P. Manansala manages to create a murder mystery where nothing is too horrifying and you know everything will be okay in the end. And because of that, you just get to go along for the ride of trying to figure out what really happened when Lila This book hits the exact right spot, in my opinion. I love mysteries and whodunits but in the past few years, I’ve grown weary of all the violence and anxiety that accompany a lot of true crime or murder mysteries. Somehow—I still don’t quite know how??—Mia P. Manansala manages to create a murder mystery where nothing is too horrifying and you know everything will be okay in the end. And because of that, you just get to go along for the ride of trying to figure out what really happened when Lila Macapagal’s ex-boyfriend Derek drops dead in front of her at her family’s restaurant. I’ve heard it described as a “cozy mystery” and that’s exactly what it is, a perfectly cozy puzzle to solve. Also, it will make you very hungry for Filipino food—and then it delivers with recipes in the back!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Lauren

    Well. This was disappointing. The best part of this book is the cover. That is an amazing cover. Well - and maybe the opening page. That was pretty engaging. After that, expect it to go downhill. I know - I know, that's mean and as an aspiring author myself it's a bit rude but I can't help myself, this just didn't shake out. Let me point out a few key things that really grated for me: - The concept of grief in this book is really, really appalling. None of the characters have feeling. None. They som Well. This was disappointing. The best part of this book is the cover. That is an amazing cover. Well - and maybe the opening page. That was pretty engaging. After that, expect it to go downhill. I know - I know, that's mean and as an aspiring author myself it's a bit rude but I can't help myself, this just didn't shake out. Let me point out a few key things that really grated for me: - The concept of grief in this book is really, really appalling. None of the characters have feeling. None. They sometimes might swoon, or frown, or be mad at each other but the emotions last like... two seconds. I am not kidding that there are multiple times someone is found dead, or assaulted, and later on the same dang page we are hearing about what they are ordering at a restaurant (more of that later). For example - at one point in this story, a woman who was literally just at the wake of her adult son, and then later (view spoiler)[ discovered her husband murdered (hide spoiler)] decides to just hang out and bunk up at the house of her son's suspected murderer. They gossip and talk about - you guess it - food. It is mind-boggling. - The FOOD. Look, I love me a good food description and lord knows I have my characters eating all the time. Describe your surroundings, yes, but this book just doesn't stop. Everything is described and everything is described MULTIPLE times. We learn about what is on the menu, how the character orders it, when it comes, what it tastes like, what the other character's food tastes and looks like - it goes on and on. It doesn't matter and it is constantly snapping us out of the scene. I am not kidding when I say there is a FULL PAGE where a character is talking about grinding beans, then putting it in the French press, then asking about milk options... ok, I'll stop. But trust me, it's maddening. - Honestly, Lila is pretty unlikable and yet there's a kind of love triangle thing that starts? Don't expect anything close to romance here though because there is only the barest hint of it. - The "mystery" part is... not a mystery? I mean, I guess there's confusion but that's not the same thing. Our main characters goes to "investigate" (read: goes to different restaurants just to describe the food) and ends up asking the same questions, and getting the same answers, over and over again. It's honestly kind of bizarre - since when does a mystery reinforce the same thing literally five or six times? Unfortunately, I cannot recommend you pick this up. Even as a "cozy mystery" where some fluff is expected, it just isn't worth it. Read more at www.theroamingreader.com

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    This was really cute, and I loved the family in this book and learning more about the Filipino culture and the food, but I don’t know if cozy mysteries are my thing. I loved everything about this book, except for the mystery aspect of it, I just couldn’t get invested. Here’s the reading vlog where I read it: https://youtu.be/ByZvXPeSUB4 This was really cute, and I loved the family in this book and learning more about the Filipino culture and the food, but I don’t know if cozy mysteries are my thing. I loved everything about this book, except for the mystery aspect of it, I just couldn’t get invested. Here’s the reading vlog where I read it: https://youtu.be/ByZvXPeSUB4

  5. 5 out of 5

    myo (myonna reads)

    this was such a fun small town cozy mystery!! can’t wait for the rest of the series

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    A light, fun, humorous cozy mystery featuring descriptions of yummy Filipino dishes and warm family moments. I did feel like I had a few unanswered questions regarding side plots and characters, but I'm hoping those are addressed in future installments. I appreciated the dash of romance and the delightful banter involving the aunties, and look forward to the next book in the series! A light, fun, humorous cozy mystery featuring descriptions of yummy Filipino dishes and warm family moments. I did feel like I had a few unanswered questions regarding side plots and characters, but I'm hoping those are addressed in future installments. I appreciated the dash of romance and the delightful banter involving the aunties, and look forward to the next book in the series!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Addie Motta

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not as substantive as I would have liked it to be and could be kind of cringey at times. At the beginning, it seemed like part of the narrative would be the main character exploring her identity as a second generation Filipino in the US, but that didn’t pan out. I feel like my brain was in “editing” mode the entire time I was reading. There was a lot of dialogue and description that was very very cheesy and many scenes that I think could have been parsed way down and still gotten the same point Not as substantive as I would have liked it to be and could be kind of cringey at times. At the beginning, it seemed like part of the narrative would be the main character exploring her identity as a second generation Filipino in the US, but that didn’t pan out. I feel like my brain was in “editing” mode the entire time I was reading. There was a lot of dialogue and description that was very very cheesy and many scenes that I think could have been parsed way down and still gotten the same point across. I also guessed who the killer was about 1/3 of the way through the book, which is think is too early to have that revelation. I will say I didn’t get the motive right, as I assumed Derek was somehow related to the killer (based on the adoption that is touched on) and those family ties lead to the motive. Something that REALLY bothered me about this book is how nonchalant the main character is about everything that happens. She has to spend the night in a jail cell, sees her ex-boyfriend start to die in front of her, walks in on his murdered father, and sees her high school frenemy bludgeoned into a coma...and just goes about her day! She is able to continue to laugh, make jokes, and be overly sarcastic with the investigating detective. It seems that everyone around her was also overly nonchalant considering the events that transpire. An actual line from the book is “speaking of ex-boyfriends, seems like yours is dead.” What a casual and cruel way to reference that! No one seemed scared or shaken up or even really that upset which I just did not understand and that really took me out of the story. If I saw a stranger die or get seriously hurt, I think it would be a life altering event, let alone people I knew well or dated!!! Everyone in this story needs some SERIOUS therapy. I also think the author could have done more research into detective work and the legal system, because I was very confused about exactly how the police were planning to pin everything on Lila. The burden of proof lies with them, not with her, so she didn’t necessarily need to find proof she didn’t do it considering how flimsy their evidence was. So drugs were in her locker...was she in any way tied to the prescription labels that were apparently on them? Could they produce any witnesses saying she had sold them drugs? Was there anyone in the pharmacy or hospital who could say she was acting sketchy? It just seems like their case wouldn’t hold up at all, but that’s just my opinion. Lastly, I have a lot of unanswered questions! - Why exactly was her friend Adeena so insistent on settling in Shady Palms, and why did Lila eventually agree? The other characters paint her as selfish for wanting to leave, but I disagree! - Also the novel mentions “Ronnie,” Lila’s cousin and former druggie and something that happened to him with the Shady Palms PD. This character never shows up and I don’t think the story line about him was actually fleshed out, unless I missed something. - Who is Kevin’s birth family? Was that a lie he made up about why he moved to Shady Palms? That whole thing left me confused. - Why did Cate Long not seem to give a shit about her brother?? It’s said multiple times that she only came to take care of Mrs. Long, who she isn’t related to. Why are she and Nancy so close? - Finally, throughout the novel, Detective Park seems EXTREMELY concerned with Tita Rosie’s well-being despite also acting desperate to pin the murder on her niece? The relationship that the two of them have and why he was so obsessed with her never really made sense. Personally I wouldn’t want to stay in the town where I witnessed multiple deaths and open a cafe in the same spot were my best friend and I were LITERALLY almost murdered. I seriously hope Lila gets some therapy by instalment #2 in this series. 😂

  8. 5 out of 5

    LilyCReads

    This was kinda trash, but it still entertained me and was really messy (so points for that)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shealea

    Listen. Even though I’m a sinigang girl through and through, my Filipino heart is crying happy Filipino tears. 😭🇵🇭 ARC gods, hear my plea. 🥺

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Warning: Do not attempt to pick up this book and read it if you're hungry, or even if you simply haven't eaten in the last few hours. I had to set it down to google if I had any Filipino restaurants near me that would deliver because this book made me so damn hungry and in the mood for some lumpia... That said, the food descriptions were unfortunately the best part. I would absolutely follow a food blog if this author were to create one. And I plan to make the ube crinkle cookie recipe that is p Warning: Do not attempt to pick up this book and read it if you're hungry, or even if you simply haven't eaten in the last few hours. I had to set it down to google if I had any Filipino restaurants near me that would deliver because this book made me so damn hungry and in the mood for some lumpia... That said, the food descriptions were unfortunately the best part. I would absolutely follow a food blog if this author were to create one. And I plan to make the ube crinkle cookie recipe that is provided along with a few others at the end of the book. But would I read another installment of this series... hmmmm, maybe? Probably not. *************************** Update: I had every intention of coming back to update this with: "I tried the cookies, and at least those were great!" but alas... The recipe did NOT work for me. And I'm a pretty accomplished baker. I literally have a book and dessert blog. The three cookies below are, from left to right: Mia's cookies as written, Mia's cookies baked for longer than directed and left out at room temp for a bit prior to baking (which yielded the best result - I really did try to make these work), and Michelle Lopez's Ube Crinkles as a comparison. These were all baked on the same day with the same ingredients. It was kind of expensive for me to source these ingredients, which added to the disappointment. Maybe other people will have better luck with them, I don't know? I hope so. But I feel it's important to be honest. In the end, while very dense, they were still tasty (well the fully cooked batch anyway), so that's a positive at least! *************************** The mystery itself was kind of a let down, the lawyer and police were downright incompetent at their jobs, and Lyla's "investigation" was just plain silly. I get the whole amateur sleuth angle, but in addition to her sleuthing being ill-advised and potentially dangerous, it also was redundant as heck. I truly cannot understand why the author wouldn't have given us information a little bit at a time via each interview Lyla does, versus having every conversation be a virtual carbon copy. Not only would it help with keeping things better paced, but it simply makes much more sense than having every single person she talks to immediately spill every single bit of information they know to a stranger. A stranger with a vested interest in using that information against them no less. I was really put off by how cavalier all of the characters were about death/murder in this book. So many crazy and traumatic things happen to our main character and she's over here going "well that was weird, let me talk to you for a few pages about this new dessert I want to try baking". What on earth? And every other character is just as bad. They go on about their day as if they haven't just witnessed someone dying in their restaurant. What is wrong with these people!? Did they skip the day feelings and empathy were given out? Have they discovered some kind of compartmentalization that would change the mental health profession forever? Are they just super self-involved and kind of awful people? It makes it tough to root for anyone or want to continue a series involving them. The lack of concern from characters also extends to how seriously (or not) they take what becomes multiple felony charges. This was especially puzzling to me because the author clearly tried to make sure she had a diverse group of characters (yay representation! which is huge plus for this book), and also mentioned issues the family had with police in the past. I understand if the author wanted to keep the tone lighter and not get too political, but it ended up feeling off and adding to the lack of realism. Granted, I've never read a cozy (not counting Miss Marple, who seems to be an inspiration for the genre from what I can gather), so maybe some of my complaints are just markers that this genre isn't for me? I really wanted to like this. I mean, have you seen that cover! And as one of those people who annoys everyone around me with obsessions with both thriller/mystery books and food, I thought this would be perfect for me. Sadly, it was not. Hopefully other readers will have better luck with it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    Imagine a train with three cargoes. The first cargo consists of those gothic artifacts that'll really make you think, the creepy cool black stuff like spikes, guns, and you get the gist. The third cargo consists of all things pink and pretty- stuffed toys with sparkly eyes, pastel paper dolls, shiny things, soft pink pillows, and the likes. In the middle cargo there's a bunch of bombs and dynamites and one of them is ticked off. Now, the conductor is struggling to keep up with the weight and the Imagine a train with three cargoes. The first cargo consists of those gothic artifacts that'll really make you think, the creepy cool black stuff like spikes, guns, and you get the gist. The third cargo consists of all things pink and pretty- stuffed toys with sparkly eyes, pastel paper dolls, shiny things, soft pink pillows, and the likes. In the middle cargo there's a bunch of bombs and dynamites and one of them is ticked off. Now, the conductor is struggling to keep up with the weight and the train is too high on charcoals. And then the tracks the train is moving on is heading straight to a dead end and baam! The train explodes as it crashes and the cargoes are busted as fudge. There's a mix of the spikes, the toys- the cutesy and the dark and it's fascinating, but really, it's a mess. This is how Arsenic & Adobo came to me, a cool recipe that ended in disaster. Arsenic & Adobo is a mystery, thriller, and contemporary novel following Lila Macapagal, whose life quickly turns from a chick-lit light novel to a shocking murder mystery after her douchey food critic for an ex-boyfriend drops dead after eating one of her creations. Filled with gossipy aunts which I can relate to all too well, mentions of Filipino food cuisine, and a protagonist recovering from a toxic relationship dead-set on clearing her name when the police could do nothing about it, I was bound to love this book. (I didn't) I really wanted to love this story, really I do. It even has the elements that I go crazy for (ignoring the unnecessary love triangle, of course). I think my main problem with this book is that it tried to do too much. Like, we got the mystery, the love triangle, the identity and dream crisis, the food stuff, the gossipy titas, the moving on from toxic relationships bit, the self-realizations- at the end of it all, I have no idea what this book is supposed to be. Like, I love the idea but frankly, it's all over the place and I had never felt so lost. PS. (view spoiler)[The mystery was meh and does anyone honestly expect me to believe that Detective Park is supposed to be this brilliant detective ever but he never considered that the drugs in Lila's locker is planted and never even thought of doing a fingerprint testing or sum?? Bruhhh (hide spoiler)] PPS. (view spoiler)[Also, I got annoyed with Tita Rosie for like the majority of the book, like I know I'm supposed to empathize with her or sum but she always digs a deeper hole for their restaurant and doesn't even bother to use their lawyer. Also also, the lawyer brother is kind of like a prop, he's never there most of the times he's actually needed, and I guess that's Tita Rosie's fault sometimes but still, he's only there to be like snappy and make lovey eyes with Lila. (hide spoiler)] (I forgot most of their names LOL) PPPS. Also, I have no idea how trains work LOL

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    berkley, hear my filipino american prayers. also this is 100% without question going to be my lola's fave read of 2021. blessings all around and my heart is so very full! <3 Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch berkley, hear my filipino american prayers. also this is 100% without question going to be my lola's fave read of 2021. blessings all around and my heart is so very full! <3 Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch

  13. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    Arsenic and Adobo is a great start to a new Culinary Cozy Mystery series. After reading it, I can confidently say that I'm here for the long haul. Keep 'em coming, please, Mia P. Manansala!!! Following a bad breakup, Lila Macapagal moves back home to lick her wounds and try to put the pieces of her life back together. Additionally, her family needs some help. Her Aunt's restaurant is floundering. Even though the food is incredible, the business-side is tanking. Her Auntie never focuses on those de Arsenic and Adobo is a great start to a new Culinary Cozy Mystery series. After reading it, I can confidently say that I'm here for the long haul. Keep 'em coming, please, Mia P. Manansala!!! Following a bad breakup, Lila Macapagal moves back home to lick her wounds and try to put the pieces of her life back together. Additionally, her family needs some help. Her Aunt's restaurant is floundering. Even though the food is incredible, the business-side is tanking. Her Auntie never focuses on those details. Lila knows she can turn it around. When Lila's ex-boyfriend, Derek, a local food critic with a terrible reputation, shows up for dinner with their landlord, who also happens to be Derek's step-father, Lila knows stuff is about to hit the fan. However, she would never have expected Derek to fall face first into his dessert. Dead, apparently poisoned. Now the police consider Lila to be their number one suspect. As it seems all local law enforcement are wasting their time investigating Lila and her family, Lila knows she needs to get to the bottom of what happened to Derek herself. Her family had nothing to do with it, which means a killer is still out there. Thus begins a super fun and witty amateur sleuthing trope. It's no secret that I love Cozy Mysteries. I've read a few Culinary Cozy books in the past and this one definitely fits right in! It's silly, it's over the top, fast-paced, funny and there's a lot of delicious food on page. I thought this was an excellent start to a series. Manansala made me care for Lila and her loved ones. In my experience, Cozy Mystery series tend to get better with time, as each one builds out the characters you come to adore. Trust me when I say, you can become quite attached. I'm invested and already anticipating the next release in this series. That makes me a happy girl! If you are Cozy fan, especially Culinary Cozies, you should absolutely give this one a shot. I'm so interested to see what crazy hijinks the Macapagal family gets up to next!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kendall

    This was my first time reading a cozy mystery!! For one... I am obsessed with the cover. I absolutely loved the town of Shady Palms and Miss Lila Macapagal. This was quite the cozy mystery that stands out for the importance of family, full of heart, and tons of delicious food that I wanted to eat right out of the book. What I absolutely loved? The Filipino culture!! And the cast of characters just absolutely loved. But, I have to say my most favorite is the dachschund Longganisa. Gahhh soooo cute! This was my first time reading a cozy mystery!! For one... I am obsessed with the cover. I absolutely loved the town of Shady Palms and Miss Lila Macapagal. This was quite the cozy mystery that stands out for the importance of family, full of heart, and tons of delicious food that I wanted to eat right out of the book. What I absolutely loved? The Filipino culture!! And the cast of characters just absolutely loved. But, I have to say my most favorite is the dachschund Longganisa. Gahhh soooo cute!!! Mia Manansala has a fresh voice exploring Filipino-American culture and food through a cozy mystery that made me laugh out loud so many times. This definitely was a cute and fast read!! 4/5 stars Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A cute, cozy mystery with lots of food descriptions. The perfect rainy day read 👌🏻

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Lila is helping out in the family restaurant when her ex-boyfriend dies of what looks like poisoning. Lots of Filipino food and family, and some secrets only known to the people who have stayed in the small community. I hope we see more in this series because there are some unresolved relationships at the end of this! A few recipes in the back, which will send me on another hunt for pandan leaves. I had a copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carla (Carla's Book Bits)

    If there's one thing Filipino people are good at, it's showing up for other Filipinos' achievements. That's essentially why I jumped to get a review copy of Arsenic & Adobo, Mia P. Manansala's debut installment to a cozy mystery series featuring Filipino protagonists and food. Cozy mysteries have long been a genre I wanted to get into, but all of these factors and more were what really made me stay for the rest of the book. The things I liked: ✓ So much diversity; our main character, Lila, is If there's one thing Filipino people are good at, it's showing up for other Filipinos' achievements. That's essentially why I jumped to get a review copy of Arsenic & Adobo, Mia P. Manansala's debut installment to a cozy mystery series featuring Filipino protagonists and food. Cozy mysteries have long been a genre I wanted to get into, but all of these factors and more were what really made me stay for the rest of the book. The things I liked: ✓ So much diversity; our main character, Lila, is Filipina and her love interest is Brown. But we see a whole cast of characters who are all different races and they're all bonding over the love of food, which is just so nice to see because this is exactly how I bond with other cultures and other people, regardless of race. ✓ THE FOOD DESCRIBED IS DELICIOUS. So mouth-watering and envy-inducing. We get tons of Filipino sweets, fusion desserts, but Lila and her friends also visit tons of restaurants and you better believe we get all the descriptions of those foods in all their glory. This book made me crave SO hard for a chicken adobo when I was done. ✓ It's a cozy mystery- it's cute! Lots of food, coffee, and friendship; but the mystery itself was also really interesting and quite exciting. It's not dark in any way, but it was still a page-turner with fun twists and turns. ✓ The characters are so funny. Lila, being a Filipina, is of course constantly hounded by her gossipy Filipina aunties. The authenticity of the experience (aka the mix between them being annoying vs them being endearing) is just so on-the-mark. Of course, Arsenic and Adobo won't please you if you don't like the tropes that are being set out in most cozy mysteries, but it's not setting out to be that way. We're not going to any new places here, the author just wants to take us on a pleasant journey full of food and loved ones. Filipinos are all about community. We're good at showing up for anything that's remotely Filipino because culturally, we put so much importance into family; the ones we were born in, and the ones we find, too. This was conveyed so well in this book. I came because I wanted to show up, but I stayed for all the love and delight. Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. ----- Pre-Reading: A Filipina protagonist, murder mystery featuring adobo (my first love) and other Filipino foods, anddddd her Dachshund's name is Longanisa 😭😭😭 Excuse, I'm gonna go cry, this is already the perfect book for me

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gigi

    I was lucky to get a sneak peek at this terrific debut cozy mystery. What a terrific new series! A full review to follow shortly.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Norma

    Delightful, fun, and humorous! This was an enjoyable cozy murder mystery that was a fast read and held my interest right from the very start. I absolutely love a good culinary cozy that is set in a small town, and what is even better is the included recipes of all the mouthwatering dishes mentioned in the book. The glossary in the beginning of the book was greatly appreciated by this reader. I was thoroughly entertained and loved the cultural aspect of this novel, and learning more about the Filip Delightful, fun, and humorous! This was an enjoyable cozy murder mystery that was a fast read and held my interest right from the very start. I absolutely love a good culinary cozy that is set in a small town, and what is even better is the included recipes of all the mouthwatering dishes mentioned in the book. The glossary in the beginning of the book was greatly appreciated by this reader. I was thoroughly entertained and loved the cultural aspect of this novel, and learning more about the Filipino culture and their family dynamics. I was definitely enticed to request and read this book because of the title of this book and also I couldn't resist that bright and fun looking cover! This was an entertaining start to a series that I am looking forward to reading and seeing what is in store for these characters next. Thank you so much to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Mia P. Manansala for my review copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Viklund

    That was DELISH!!! This was my first cozy mystery & I devoured it, not just because of all the yummy food but also the Filipino family dynamics & culture along with the compulsive need I had to figure out who was behind the madness. I am so happy this is a series, I want MORE!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Mayes

    This was a pretty quick read but I hated the writing style and I thought it felt like both everything and nothing was happening at once. The food descriptions were the only substantial thing in the book and now I know I don't care about food descriptions. This was a pretty quick read but I hated the writing style and I thought it felt like both everything and nothing was happening at once. The food descriptions were the only substantial thing in the book and now I know I don't care about food descriptions.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    Eeek, I knooooooow. I really tried! Cozy mysteries might not be my thing. {Thanks to Berkley for an advanced copy of this book.} I really wanted to like Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala, and did enjoy the food descriptions, diversity, and family banter. I love learning about other cultures, and enjoy stories wrapped up in yummy food. Those aspects of the story were great! There seemed to be a lack of engagement in relationships, and many things were left unexplained. It felt a bit murky and u Eeek, I knooooooow. I really tried! Cozy mysteries might not be my thing. {Thanks to Berkley for an advanced copy of this book.} I really wanted to like Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala, and did enjoy the food descriptions, diversity, and family banter. I love learning about other cultures, and enjoy stories wrapped up in yummy food. Those aspects of the story were great! There seemed to be a lack of engagement in relationships, and many things were left unexplained. It felt a bit murky and unresolved. I also didn’t love the constant repetition of “Should I wait for my lawyer?” followed quickly by answering all the police questions! Sadly, this was a big miss for me. I seem to be in the minority, so make your own decision!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark Baker

    After a disastrous breakup with her fiancé, Lila Macapagal has moved back to Shady Palms, Illinois, and is trying to help her aunt save her Filipino restaurant. One issue the restaurant is having is Derek Winter, Lila’s high school sweetheart who has becoming the local food critic and has written several nasty reviews of Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. When he comes back for yet another meal, he winds up dropping dead in his meal. Now the police are looking at Lila as a murderer, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen is c After a disastrous breakup with her fiancé, Lila Macapagal has moved back to Shady Palms, Illinois, and is trying to help her aunt save her Filipino restaurant. One issue the restaurant is having is Derek Winter, Lila’s high school sweetheart who has becoming the local food critic and has written several nasty reviews of Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. When he comes back for yet another meal, he winds up dropping dead in his meal. Now the police are looking at Lila as a murderer, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen is closed until further notice, and Lila feels like the only hope of a happy ending is figuring out what is going on herself. Can she keep herself out of jail? This is a solid debut. The mystery starts off quickly, and Lila learns plenty of secrets on her way to uncovering what really happened. The climax is suspenseful and creative. The characters are all strong. We even learn a bit more about Derek that makes him a little sympathetic although not completely likable. The rest of the cast is strong. A few supporting players blend together, but that is done on purpose, and we see glimpses of their individual personalities. We do have the beginnings of a love triangle here. Some of Lila’s friendships are so strong already, they help make those characters more real for us. I did feel a few of the themes of the book weren’t quite as well developed as I would have liked. Hopefully they will be explored more in further books. If the descriptions of food make you as hungry as they made me, you’ll be happy to see the four recipes at the end of the book. This is a strong debut, and I already can’t wait to find out what happens next to the characters. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book. Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sai at theengineerisreading

    It's been days since I finished the digital galley provided by the Berkley team and I still can't find the right words to finally craft a decent and honest review. Disclaimer: The main character in this book is a diaspora Filipino-American who was born and raised in the United States so even though I can relate to the Filipino culture, foods, and history mentioned in this book, I can not say that I am a full ownvoices reviewer. Now, where to begin? Synopsis When Lila Macapagal moves back home to rec It's been days since I finished the digital galley provided by the Berkley team and I still can't find the right words to finally craft a decent and honest review. Disclaimer: The main character in this book is a diaspora Filipino-American who was born and raised in the United States so even though I can relate to the Filipino culture, foods, and history mentioned in this book, I can not say that I am a full ownvoices reviewer. Now, where to begin? Synopsis 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 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 Jennifer Crusie romp to an Agatha Christie joint. 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. The hits ✔️Filipino foods I can say that Mia Manansala knows quality Filipino food since the book did not stutter in including authentic local delicacies and dishes in almost every chapter. Being mostly set in Tita Rosie's Kitchen, a Filipino family-owned restaurant in the small town of Shady Palms, it is not a surprise that the book will flood the pages with delicious and mouth-watering kitchen delights. My gluttonous belly feels grumbling every time I come across a dish that I know I already devoured. Get out of the way, bland foods! Tasty Asians dishes are here! What I really love about the inclusion of the foods in this book is how accurate the depiction of how Pinoys value foods and feeding visitors at all times. I may have snorted every time Tita Rosie and Lola Flor prepare a feast enough to feed an entire barangay when all they expect to have are 10 visitors at most. Kudos to that, my mom will surely love this book. ✔️Filipino culture It's no new news for you that I'm a sucker for books featuring Asian characters and culture especially if it's Pinoy since I love reading stories that truly hits home so I literally screamed when I received the best news from Berkley that I am one of their early reviewers for this book. Though the actual setting of the story took place in Shady Palms, IL in the US, most of the events happened either in Tita Rosie's Kitchen or in the Macapagal's house so I still consider it a win since Filipino culture is explored all throughout. From the never-ending relative gossips to the infamous hospitality, the author delivered the goods when writing about how it feels to be a Filipino. Mia managed to balance the good and the bad sides of it by not only focusing on the winning traits but also showing the downside of being a Filipino. I love how the Ninangs April-Mae-June, also known as the Calendar Crew, are Lila's primary source of ridicule when it comes to her personal choices but were also the ones to catch her during the entire Derek Winter circus. At some point, I guess we all have relatives like them. Lola Flor is a solid spitting image of my Lola. Equally hardworking and strict with extra scoops of love for gambling, I feel mostly attached to Lola Flor because she gives off this Lola vibe I used to experience back when my granny's still with us. Lastly, I'll highlight that part in the book when the Macapagal's did not hesitate in opening their home to Mrs. Long and Cate (Derek's remaining loved ones) even though the late Mr. Long is one of the many masterminds behind the things that happened to Lila's family because that's a concrete example of our world-class hospitality. ✔️Writing style I'll say it first before any of you misinterpret me, I am not a huge mystery reader. I only read books from this genre when it's a book of the month or needed for a discussion so I can't fully vouch for this as a mystery-thriller rec but I highly recommend this book if you want a wild rollercoaster ride involving food, murder, and a whole lot of meddling relatives (with sprinkles of a good ol' romance.) Mia's writing style feels like a spontaneous talk with your bestfriend over a cup of coffee. I feel like Lila's character as a personal friend narrating me her previous misadventure and it was really fun because you'll swiftly flip the pages until the end. Thanks to the author's unique portrayal of Lila Macapagal plus the ability to balance the humor without sacrificing the thrill is just amazing. ✔️The characters Lila may have questionable choices during her investigation but one thing I can surely say is how strong and independent she is. I can not fathom and wishing I will not be able to experience what happened to her in the book but I know that it's truly hard to be framed up for a crime you did not commit since it's a common story here in the PH and reading a book patterned with it is empowering. Maybe because I believe every people accused of something is innocent until proven by the court. Amir and Dr. Jae are two of the characters I actually enjoyed reading. Their mini-rivalry is so fun to read and I hope that there'll be more of them in case a sequel is in progress. I may sound repetitive but I also adored the Macapagals including the gossiping Calendar Crew to kitchen geniuses Lola Flor and Tita Rosie. Adeena is also another character that I think needs longer exposure in the future especially now that Elena's in the picture as well. The other characters that appealed average to me are Janet, Marcus, Terrence, Derek, and the resto owners. I know it's hard to squeeze all their backstories within a small book but Mia managed to offer at least most of them a decent development. But the most-loved character from this book is none other than our adorable Dachschund, Longganisa. The misses ✖️Too many background characters?! I think Mia's reason with adding a LOT of characters is for readers to not have a hint of who the mystery killer is and as a genre noob, Mia successfully managed to confuse me by pooling in side characters who were all suspects in my mind some point during the reading. But I guess the downside of it is this overcrowded cast made the thriller vibe less present because I became more invested on what their importance in the story will be rather than being thrilled to crack the case. ✖️That particular twist I don't want this part to be LONG so I'll cut it short by saying that I didn't like it when one of my primary suspects, which turned out to be a correct guess, got killed by the real mystery killer. Let me say that he did not deserve to be free off the shackles that easy because I believe that he owed the resto owners some jail time for all the shady deeds he committed. And that's it for me. I read this book for four days since I still do a full-time job during weekdays but that's an achievement since this genre is not my cup of tea, as mentioned earlier. So, if you love a good murder mystery involving food, family, and small town drama - then this book is the right fit for you. RATING: 4.5stars P.S. Please take time to read the author's note with trigger warnings and a peek of what's happening here in the Philippines.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    Arsenic and Adobo is a charming start to a new cozy mystery series surrounding a Filipino restaurant in a small town! Lila moves back home to help her aunt with the family restaurant, but then a customer (Lila's ex-boyfriend) dies on the premises. When Lila becomes a suspect, she starts her own investigation to clear her name and take the heat off of the restaurant. This wasn't exactly surprising in terms of twists, but I really enjoyed all of the characters, the family, the small town drama, an Arsenic and Adobo is a charming start to a new cozy mystery series surrounding a Filipino restaurant in a small town! Lila moves back home to help her aunt with the family restaurant, but then a customer (Lila's ex-boyfriend) dies on the premises. When Lila becomes a suspect, she starts her own investigation to clear her name and take the heat off of the restaurant. This wasn't exactly surprising in terms of twists, but I really enjoyed all of the characters, the family, the small town drama, and of course the delicious sounding food descriptions! I would definitely read more from this author.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe

    Arsenic and Adobo was a cute and cozy mystery, full of delicious food! I am so happy my book club chose this book and for the free copy Berkley Publishing sent me. I never read cozy mysteries, and having a food themed one made it even better. This book was about Lila, a girl who has moved home to help her family run their restaurant. She always puts family first, and after a bad breakup in Chicago, she’s ready to come home. Of course she runs into her ex boyfriend right away, who also happens to Arsenic and Adobo was a cute and cozy mystery, full of delicious food! I am so happy my book club chose this book and for the free copy Berkley Publishing sent me. I never read cozy mysteries, and having a food themed one made it even better. This book was about Lila, a girl who has moved home to help her family run their restaurant. She always puts family first, and after a bad breakup in Chicago, she’s ready to come home. Of course she runs into her ex boyfriend right away, who also happens to be a food critic. He is known for his harsh reviews and never having anything nice to say, so when he is found dead, there are lots of people who are happy about it. Unfortunately, Lila is the main suspect and wants to clear her name with her best friend Adeena. She starts to investigate and tries to figure out who else would want him gone. Thoughts: There was so much to love about this book. First, I read it during Pride Month and loved the LGBTQ+ representation in Adeena. I also loved all the cultures represented in this book. I appreciated the glossary and pronunciation guide in the beginning to help with the Tagalog words because they made the book even more fun to read. There were so many different foods mentioned in this book, and I loved that some recipes were included in the end. I really liked the fun character of Lila and all of the interesting supporting characters as well. I’m guessing that in cozy mysteries people just tell you the ending of the mystery, but I was disappointed the “bad guy” just said yes I did it and here’s why. It wasn’t necessarily focused on the actual mystery, but more on the story of Lila and the people in her life. I enjoyed her and her family, as well as the themes of family, food, and friendship. 4-stars!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anshu Sharma

    The saying "do not judge a book by its cover" must have been tailor-made for this book, well the cover and the synopsis. I was basically lured by those two things to start this book and oh boy what a mistake it was. This book, to put it simply, sucks. It reads as some 14-year old wrote it. I would say it reads like a fan-fiction, but that would be an insult to all the well-written fan-fictions out there. This is nothing but the writer's self-insert fantasy with ham-fisted food reference thrown in The saying "do not judge a book by its cover" must have been tailor-made for this book, well the cover and the synopsis. I was basically lured by those two things to start this book and oh boy what a mistake it was. This book, to put it simply, sucks. It reads as some 14-year old wrote it. I would say it reads like a fan-fiction, but that would be an insult to all the well-written fan-fictions out there. This is nothing but the writer's self-insert fantasy with ham-fisted food reference thrown in every other paragraph that I felt sick to the stomach just having read the food and descriptions. I'm an avid foodie as they come but my god it was grating on my nerves by the third chapter. The characters are just awful with Lila, the protagonist being the absolute worst. She is too big of a snob about everything and if she name-dropped Chicago one more time, I'd have found a way to reach into the book and smack her upside down the head. She and the women her age act more like high-schoolers straight out of Mean Girls rather than 20-something grown adults. As for men her age? They all fall in love with her on sight just as how the women hate her. Lila has a hot-shot lawyer and a dentist heads-over-heels for her while she is nothing but all-around awful to everyone. See what I mean by self-insert? Also, everyone is just terrible at their jobs? All "working" people just sit around eating all the time? Lawyers are inept, and so are the detectives. I obviously know nothing about the American justice system but I'm sure the burden of proof lies with the police to gather evidence about the guilt rather than the guilty looking for evidence to clear them? Like what? Just utter rubbish. And then the book ends with a sneak-peak of the next book where the aforementioned dumb detective approaches Lila to solve a case like she's the next Miss Marple or Nancy Drew. I just threw up in my mouth a bit. Please for the love of god skip this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mira

    I know this is ridiculously petty of me, but I just couldn't take the book seriously after reading this paragraph: I sighed and nibbled on an ube crinkle, so lost in thought I couldn't even enjoy how the light coating of powdered sugar gave just enough sweetness to the subtle, almost vanilla-like flavor of the purple yam. It all turned to sand in my mouth. Like...please don't tell me a character can't concentrate on something and then proceed to describe it in detail, especially in a first-person I know this is ridiculously petty of me, but I just couldn't take the book seriously after reading this paragraph: I sighed and nibbled on an ube crinkle, so lost in thought I couldn't even enjoy how the light coating of powdered sugar gave just enough sweetness to the subtle, almost vanilla-like flavor of the purple yam. It all turned to sand in my mouth. Like...please don't tell me a character can't concentrate on something and then proceed to describe it in detail, especially in a first-person narration.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Cahoon

    review to come.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    omg this sounds so fun. I love books about food.

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