The Perfect Cafe — Welcome Back Mia P. Manansala #giveaway

Fraser Sherman is the winner of Murder and Mamon! Watch for an email from Mia!

I met Mia while I was on the board of Sisters in Crimes. I’ve always admired her work ethic, passion, and commitment to making the writing community a better place for all writers. Mia is here to celebrate the release of Murder and Mamon. Thanks for joining us today, Mia!

“You do realize we’re a cafe, not a plant shop, right?”

This is the opening line of MURDER AND MAMON, the fourth book in the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series. Spring has sprung in my fictional town of Shady Palms, IL, and the cafe is updating its decor and menu to accommodate new seasonal items.

Lila runs the Brew-ha Cafe (Brew-ha is a play on words since bruha/bruja means “witch” in Tagalog and Spanish, respectively, and the pronunciation is the same) with her two best friends, Adeena Awan and Elena Torres. These three very different women all bring something special to the cafe: Adeena is the barista, Elena brings in the plants, dried herbs, teas, plus homemade bath and beauty products, and Lila handles the baking and desserts. Each of them not only has their own specialty, they each weave in elements of their various backgrounds in their offerings: Adeena is Pakistani American, Elena is Mexican American, and Lila is Filipino American. Therefore, you’ll get items like ube crinkles, a delicious cookie that utilizes ube, a purple yam popular in the Philippines (recipe on my website and in my first book, ARSENIC AND ADOBO!). Or rose-cardamom and lavender-honey lattes, as a nod to the floral flavors and spices popular in South Asia, as well as spiced hot chocolate and horchata lattes that embrace Mexican flavors.

Writers and readers alike all seem to love a good cafe, and I’m no exception. One of my pipe dreams when I was younger was to open up a tea shop with one of my best friends that had an upstairs studio area for writers and other creatives. Since that’s never going to happen (I have ZERO business skills), I get to have fun writing the fictional cafe of my dreams. While the Brew-ha Cafe doesn’t have an upstairs studio (though Adeena and Elena are both artists, so maybe…), just about everything else about my protagonist’s workplace is wish fulfillment on my part.

As for real life cafes, one of my local favorites is Brewpoint Coffee with locations in Elmhurst and Oak Park, IL. Yummy drinks + great vibes = perfect place to write.

GIVEAWAY (U.S. only): To win a signed copy of MURDER AND MAMON, let me know about your favorite cafe and why you love it! Winner will be chosen at random from the comments.

Murder and Mamon by Mia P. Manansala

When murder mars the grand opening for Lila Macapagal’s aunties’ new laundromat, she will have to air out all the dirty laundry in Shady Palms to catch a killer…

Lila Macapagal’s godmothers April, Mae, and June—AKA the Calendar Crew—are celebrating the opening of their latest joint business venture, a new laundromat, to much fanfare (and controversy). However, what should’ve been a joyous occasion quickly turns into a tragedy when they discover the building has been vandalized—and the body of Ninang April’s niece, recently arrived from the Philippines, next to a chilling message painted on the floor. The question is, was the message aimed at the victim or Lila’s gossipy godmothers, who have not-so-squeaky-clean reputations?

With Ninang April falling apart from grief and little progress from the Shady Palms Police Department in this slippery case, it’s up to Lila and her network to find justice for the young woman.

The Calendar Crew have stuck their noses into everybody’s business for years, but now the tables are turned as Lila must pry into the Calendar Crew’s lives to figure out who has a vendetta against the (extremely opinionated yet loving) aunties and stop them before they strike again.


Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and certified book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She is the author of the multi-award-winning Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series, and uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture.

She is the winner of the 2022 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, 2022 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, 2022 RUSA Reading List for Mystery, 2021 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, 2021 Chicago Reader’s Best New Novel by a Chicagoan, 2018 Hugh Holton Award, the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, the 2017 William F. Deeck – Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @MPMtheWriter

Or check out her website: 

35 Thoughts

  1. Bean Trader in Durham, NC. Good snacks, good meals, good chai. And practically speaking, it’s close enough to make it an easy break in the work day.

    1. As someone who doesn’t drive, having a great cafe close by is super important. Thanks for the rec!

  2. Congrats, Mia, on a new installment in this delightful series. We have Market Square Bakehouse. In a nineteenth-century former mill building, it offers great hot drinks, yummy pastries, plus soups and sandwiches and tables and chairs outside on the square of my historic town. Everybody’s favorite!

  3. My favorite cafe is one here locally in our little tourist town called The Rainbow Cafe. It’s a little whole in the wall in the downtown area, but usually when they are open, there is a line out the door with some sitting on the log benches outside waiting for a table to become available. The food is homemade and delicious with items from chocolate gravy and biscuits to full southern comfort food meals. I’ve not had anything on the menu or the daily special board that wasn’t yummy, had filling portions and left you satisfied that you made the right choice, but always wanting to come back for more. The owner and staff make you feel like you are old friends coming to eat in their home.

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of MURDER AND MAMON! On my TBR list and I would love the opportunity to read and review it. Just as you may live out some of your dreams through your writing, readers pretty much do the same whether its visiting a place they may never be able to travel to, meeting people of interest that we could see as being friends or doing things we either love doing or wish we had the ability to do.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks so much, Kay! And thanks for the rec. The Rainbow Cafe sounds absolutely delightful.

  4. congrats on the new book. I loved the earlier one.
    Unfortunately, i don’t have a favorite cafe but it is something i always did want to find.

    1. Thanks! Hope you find a favorite cafe soon. We’re very lucky to have lots of great ones in the Chicagoland area.

  5. My favorite cafe is a little place called Wake Cafe, here in Portland. The owner used to have a neighborhood restaurant close to our house and she had Filipino inspired breakfasts. She’s continued that tradition on a smaller scale at the cafe. Congratulations on your latest release!

    1. Hi Autumn, that sounds wonderful! Obviously I’m a little biased, but I looove Filipino breakfasts. Hopefully I’ll be able to check it out sometime.

  6. My favorite was the one on the TV show Eureka. The man who ran it could just tell immediately exactly what everyone needed/wanted to eat and had the ingredients and knew how to make it. And to top it all off, no one had to pay. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. I’m not familiar with this show but that sounds wonderful! It reminds me of a book I read recently, The Kamogawa Food Detectives. It’s a series of vignettes featuring a father-daughter team that run a restaurant and have a detective agency on the side that helps people search for food from their past.

  7. My favorite small cafe is called Cafe Stella in Virginia. I really enjoy their breakfast foods.

    Congratulations on the new release! I love your books!

  8. Welcome back, Mia. I love this series, and greatly enjoyed this MURDER AND MAMON. My favorite place is the 1369, which is in Cambridge. Great pastries and wonderful coffee and tea drinks. I love your idea of a space upstairs to create. Maybe they need to explore the attic upstairs in the shop. Congratulations on the new book.

    1. Thanks so much, Julie! I’m getting so many great cafe recs that I’ll have to create a list and make it a goal to hit them all up someday. And you’re right about that upstairs space, there may be a future book in that idea…

  9. My favorite place is called Toast and is in Mansfield, CT near UCONN. It has great food, a bright sunny atmosphere and it feels like a great place to meet with friends, dine alone, etc. Thank you for the chance to win! aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

  10. Arabella’s is a quirky cafe on Main St in quaint Lititz, PA. Wonderful organic food made on the premises, delicious pastries, and wonderful hot and cold drinks keep us going back. And, best of all, it’s directly across the street from our favorite indie bookstore, Aaron’s.

    1. The proximity of a great indie bookstore to a great cafe just adds something extra, doesn’t it? The Oak Park, IL location for Brewpoint Coffee is a few blocks away from one of my favorite indies, The Book Table. Thanks for the recommendation!

  11. I don’t have a favorite cafe because I enjoy my own kitchen table. At home I can always get exactly what I need, and I spend many hours reading and drinking tea with a French Vanilla creamer. Home is also where I like to talk to people who drop by to see me.

    1. Considering the ease, convenience, and cost, I definitely see the appeal! Since I’m the one who comes up with the recipes for my books, I experiment with coffee and tea drinks all the time and love that I can tweak them to my taste.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that! Hope you still have access to yummy drinks and treats. We are very spoiled when it comes to great restaurants and cafes here in the Chicagoland area.

  12. The Washington DC area has a local coffee chain and roaster called Swing’s, and I love their location in Alexandria, Virginia in a former industrial building. In addition to great coffee they have wonderful apple fritters.

    Congratulations on release day!

    1. Thanks, Daria! And I appreciate the recommendation! Now I’m craving apple fritters…

  13. The Drowsy Poet here in Pensacola has a great vibe. Good coffee, delicious baked goods and a nice atmosphere. Congratulations on the new release!

  14. I love cozy and welcoming cafes with tea, goodies and books. I could spend hours relaxing, reading and sipping. Libraries and cafes are my favorite haunts. Here in town there is one that is special. Little Bear Cafe.

  15. When I travel which is rare I try to visit a cafe since I miss having one where I live. When I was in a Florida beach town many years ago there was this delightful cafe. Tea, coffee, chai, and books galore as well at each table. I miss that lovely place.

  16. My favorite Cafe is The Windmill Restaurant in Holland, Michigan. It’s a really small restaurant in the middle of downtown Holland. They have the best breakfast! My favorite is the hash brown omelet. It is so good, especially because I can get it without egg! It’s delicious with just bacon, cheese, onion and hash browns. I’m not a fan of eggs and this is my favorite breakfast.

  17. I do not get out of the house very much. I am not sure of any cafes in the area. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  18. We went to Mugglets Mug in Jim Thorpe, PA andit’s a Harry Potter themed place that we loved.

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