Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P Manansala // Book Review

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P Manansala // Book Review

This was such a great read for vacations because it’s engaging enough to keep you interested, but perfect when family or friends draw your attention away. Mind you, I was totally caught off guard when the true killer was revealed.

Here’s more about Arsenic and Adobo

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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My thoughts

I read most of this book on the plane while I was on vacation and it has to be the best book for that kind of trip. If you need something to engage you while you’re traveling across the country, I highly recommend this book for its funny lines, it’s cozy mystery, and the food. OMG the food! This book has a little bit of everything for everyone, so if you’re into genre-bending books that are a lot of fun, then you’ll really like this book.

It’s about Lila who’s recently come home after a pretty terrible break up. While she’s figuring out the next steps of her life, she decides to help out at her auntie’s restaurant. And the day her high school ex comes into the restaurant to review the place for the local paper, he ends up dying in a plate of food. The rest from there is an attempt to clear Lila’s family’s name, come to terms with who she knew her ex to be, and discovering a little bit more about herself.

This story carried with it a lot of depth. I thought the focus of the book would be on the mystery alone, but I loved getting to know Lila, her hopes and dreams, and see all the delicious food she makes for her friends and family. Of course, she’s got herself a dream to open her own place and I felt like she would do really well in that department. But I loved that this was more than a small town looking to figure out the killer. I loved that it even showed how imperfect the people in town were. It felt really human and that made me continue reading.

I also loved how complex the mystery turned out to be. Like I said, I had no clue it turned out to be the person it turned out to be, but I had my inklings and I felt like I was half right. In many ways, the mystery part was really sad. Despite not knowing who actually did the killings, the results leading up to it made my heart hurt.

There’s also a lot of characters and suspects to consider! Because no one liked the food critic, there were many people who could have easily done it. I thought it was fun to keep track of everyone like a big game of Clue to finally discern the murderer.

Overall, I loved it and maybe it was because I was on vacation and didn’t want anything too complicated. It made me laugh, it made me hungry, and it surprised me.

WARCROSS by Marie Lu

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When there’s books like READY PLAYER ONE about to come out as a big blockbuster movie, I want to read more of that particular set of books. Stories about young people who fight for what they believe is right even if that means sacrificing everything. Good thing I stumbled across WARCROSS by Marie Lu.

Here’s some more about the book:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire. 

WARCROSS is definitely one of those girls kick ass kind of novels. I love a strong female character who sticks to her beliefs despite what other people (including the law) says. The story takes place in the near future where everyone is hooked up to this new game called Warcross. The game comes with a special set of glasses that immerses you not only into the game, but this virtual world where you can basically win points for breathing. It was definitely reminiscent of READY PLAYER ONE’s Oasis world where you can basically do the same thing.

I honestly think there’s a little bit for everyone. There’s science fiction, mystery, thriller. I think the big part is figuring out who is trying to sabotage the game and who is trying to hurt Hideo’s vision. There was lots of game play and strategic thinking on everyone’s character. Reading it from Emika’s point of view, it almost makes you feel like you’re playing the game.

The best part was that it wasn’t contrived. Emika needed time to think about her next step and it wasn’t easy for her to learn how to play Warcross properly. I love it when a character’s knowledge is based on real humans and how they would consider things. No one goes right into a battle knowing all the ins and outs unless they were cheating.

I also found the writing to be quite detailed and developed. Marie Lu didn’t leave any details out and I was able to imagine the mech battles during game play pretty easily. It’s tough for me to read battle scenes sometimes because I get all lost in who is doing what and to whom. However, it was super easy in Warcross and it definitely left me wanting to read more.

The twist on this book was definitely something I couldn’t stop thinking about. The argument made was kind of compelling and if you’re looking at the world from one perspective, you can see why someone would be so motivated to change it. However, there’s a lot of plays on morality here. What’s right and what’s wrong? What determines who you are and should that be controlled? While I wish I can give more of this away, I’m afraid that it’ll ruin the entire book.

The only things I considered issues were the romantic aspects and the technological aspects. For the romantic aspects, it was really unnecessary. I tried to think about this carefully after I finished and while there were romantic scenes between Emika and Hideo, I don’t think that it really contributed anything to the story. It was fun to see them connect in that way, but it felt a little gratuitous and unnecessary. I think it’s great that Emika finds Hideo as this huge role model and someone she looks up to, but falling in love with him kind of cheapens her strong female character.

For technology, I thought it was really awesome to read about these hi-tech glasses that allow you to comm with your friends and has augmented reality and you can play games with your real life. However, it irked me that after a game of Warcross Emika took out her phone and proceeded to call Hideo with it. You have all this technology with a device that allows you to read each other’s minds and then you have your dumb phone that you’re making calls with? It kind of doesn’t make sense in this world.

But these aren’t major flaws. These aren’t the make or break of a story, but little things that almost feel like me nitpicking a little. I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (September 2017)
  • Rating: 4/5 stars
  • Buy WARCROSS on Amazon

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