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Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)
Checking Out Crime by Laurie Cass
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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life, Volume 2 by Hinowa Kouzuki
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The Ghost and the Femme Fatale by Alice Kimberly
Going, Going, Ganache by Jenn McKinlay
Jackpot by Nic Stone
The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason and Byron Eggenschwiler (Illustrator)
Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes and Frankie Corzo (narrator)
Murder in a Teacup by Vicki Delany
Samantha Spinner and the Perplexing Pants by Russell Ginns
Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older
Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith
A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong
Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinlay
The Tell Tail Heart by Cate Conte
Yule Be Dead by Lorraine Bartlett, Gayle Leeson and Jorjeana Marie (narrator)

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Mango, Mambo, and Murder: 11/26/21

Mango, Mambo, and Murder

Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes is the start of the Caribbean Kitchen mystery series. Food anthropologist Miriam Quinones-Smith has moved home to Florida with her husband and their preschool aged son, Manny. While she's from Miami, they've moved to nearby wealthy white enclave, Coral Shores, where the Smith name means something.

Miriam expects to be spending her time unpacking, setting up her office, maybe getting a part time job, and mostly, avoiding as best she can her horrible mother-in-law. Frankie Corzo's performance of her mother-in-law made me picture Emily Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls. During a women's club meeting a woman ends up dead right after drinking a custom tea. Miriam's long time friend and self made real estate star is arrested, accused of poisoning the woman.

Mango, Mambo, and Murder builds a narrative around the path Miriam has to take as a Cuban American woman married into a wealthy white family. While her husband is onboard with raising their children equally in both cultures and bilingually she has to face the racism and micro-aggressions of her neighbors, relatives and strangers in Coral Shore. She also has to learn how to wield her privilege — one not earned through her education (she has a PhD) but gained through marriage.

Her investigation into the death, though, also gives Miriam a way to establish herself among the Latinx community. She's able to parlay her knowledge as a food anthropologist into a new career, one that is her success and hers alone — something her mother-in-law can't take credit for. She's able to provide for her family while still being an active parent in Manny's life.

Finally I loved how Spanish is used in the novel and left primarily untranslated. You either understand it or you don't. The way it's rolled into the narrative and the dialog is natural and helps to world and character build.

Five stars

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