top of page

Blackmail and Bibingka by Mia P. Manansala | Book Review + Questions

Updated: Jan 8

Hey, you! 😊

First of all, just look at that book cover. 😍😍

The Hanging Parol (Christmas lantern), the Bibingka (rice cake), all in the colors of the Philippines flag - it doesn't get more Filipino than that!

As soon as I got my copy of this book earlier this year, I set it aside because I knew I wanted to read it during Christmas. I figured that If I couldn't be in the Philippines for the holidays, then at least I could read about it.

Blackmail and Bibingka is the third book in the Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series (click here for Adobo and Arsenic and here for Homicide and Halo-Halo). Lila Macapagal and the gang are back for another round of murder. It's Christmas time in Shady Palms, but things are far from being merry as Lila's cousin (Tita Rosie's son), Ronnie is back in town after ghosting the family for fifteen years. Tita Rosie is happy that her son is back but wherever Ronnie goes, trouble follows. And so when one of Ronnie's business partners dies under suspicious circumstances, and Tita Rosie receives a blackmail e-mail, Lila has no choice but to investigate both crimes with the help of her friends and family.

This was overall a fun read, although not as exciting as the first two books. By now, we know how the author Mia P. Manansala functions and there's isn't any element of surprise anymore. Plus, I guess I was a little underwhelmed. Christmas is such a big celebration for us Filipinos and I thought there could have been more of that represented in the book. Filipino Christmas is just typically so bongga and that extravagance was missing. We're not talking a regular Saturday night Filipino party, this is Christmas!! Nevertheless, it was still very enjoyable to read and well-paced. I continue to love the character relationships and dynamics. The major point for me is that as a Filipino myself, I can relate to this story.

I recently talked about this book to a friend and mentioned "cozy murder mystery" and she looked at it asking with her eyes, "what are you talking about?". It's exactly what it is. It's hard to explain in words, but if you read this series, you'll know what I mean when I say a cozy murder mystery. Downside about it though is that who one really gives a sh*t about the victim. Whoops.

On a side note, I thought this book would leave me craving for Bibingka, but instead I found myself wanting to eat Food for the Gods. Like Bernadette in the book, I'm not a fan of dates either, but I can't get enough of this Filipino dessert! Of course, I baked some and once I had a piece, I could not put it down. It was sooooo good. I chose to make this for this year's Christmas baked goodies that I give away and I'm happy to report that friends and family loved it! I'm not sure why we only have this during Christmas time - I'll have to look it up!

Would you like me to share my Food for the Gods recipe? 😊

P.S. I recently saw that Arsenic and Adobo, the first book of this series, is now available in French. You can bet I'm buying it for French friends and family!


Book Club Questions:

  1. What was your favorite part of the book?

  2. What did you think of the writing?

  3. What surprised you most about the book?

  4. Would you ever consider re-reading it? Why or why not?

  5. Which characters did you like best? Which did you like least?

  6. Which twist surprised you the most?

  7. Did you guess the ending? If so, at what point?

  8. How did the author create suspense and intrigue throughout the book?

  9. What were the main themes of the book?

  10. What did you learn from this book?

  11. Have you read the first two books in the series?

  12. If you got the chance to ask the author of this book one question, what would it be?

  13. Did the book’s pace seem too fast/too slow/just right?

  14. What striked you the most about the Filipino culture?

  15. Would you read the next book in the series?

xoxo Elodie


☀️ Amazon Links:

↳ Arsenic and Adobo: A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, Book 1 :

↳ Homicide and Halo-Halo: A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, Book 2 :

↳ Blackmail and Bibingka: A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, Book 3 :

↳ Murder and Mamon: A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, Book 4 :

*As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases


bottom of page