Dateline Spring: LJ Review Editors’ 2022 Picks of the Season

Cookbooks focusing on specific locales, travelers unmoored in time, reboots and sequels taking center stage, historical mysteries, and romance: This season offers illuminating, fun, and transporting reads. Here the LJ Reviews team highlights just some of the books we are suggesting to one another and fellow readers in 2022.

Cookbooks focusing on specific locales, travelers unmoored in time, reboots and sequels taking center stage, historical mysteries, and romance: This season offers illuminating, fun, and transporting reads. Here the LJ Reviews team highlights just some of the books we are suggesting to one another and fellow readers in 2022.

Mahnaz Dar

Reference & Professional Reading, Senior Editor, LJ Reviews

With the recent success of the Netflix series Squid Game and the Academy Award–winning film Parasite, many viewers are eager for more South Korean fare—especially tales with sharp twists and turns. Holds lists will be long for Gu Byeong-mo’s The Old Woman with the Knife (Hanover Square: Harlequin, Mar.), the story of a solitary career assassin who finds herself forging connections. The masterly plotting held me rapt, but the visceral depictions of isolation are what linger with me most. Reboots and sequels are all the rage, and readers who loved Tom Perrotta’s Election—or the film based on the darkly funny novel—will be eager for the follow-up, Tracy Flick Can’t Win (Scribner, Jun.), which sees the high school overachiever in cutthroat competition for a coveted position as a school principal. Finally, I’m thrilled about two upcoming music books. Justin Tinsley’s It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World That Made Him (Abrams, May) explores the life of Notorious B.I.G., the man considered by many as the greatest rapper of all time. First released in 1990, Ronnie Spector’s Be My Baby, cowritten by Vince Waldron (Holt, May), is being republished with a new introduction. Spector, lead singer of the Ronettes, who died on January 12, tells a haunting tale of abuse at the hands of her husband and producer Phil Spector—and of triumph as she emerged and relaunched her career.

Liz French

Senior Editor, LJ Reviews

My love of all things vintage is fulfilled this year by three historical mysteries and a Golden Age Hollywood love story. Going chronologically, Stephen Galloway’s Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century (Grand Central, Mar.) recounts the tempestuous union and inevitable disunion of megastars Olivier and Leigh, who first met in the 1930s. When an Army buddy dies, Gary Phillips’s Black forensic photographer hero One-Shot Harry (Soho Crime, Apr.) roams the streets of 1963 Hollywood and sundown town Glendale, CA, in search of the truth. Chris Bohjalian’s latest, The Lioness (Doubleday, May), takes place in 1964 Tanzania, where a glamorous movie star and her entourage experience a Serengeti safari gone terribly wrong. Finally, Alex Segura, a comics creator and mystery author, combines the two genres in Secret Identity (Flatiron, Mar.), a 1975-set adventure starring Carmen Valdez, a young woman determined to make it in the male-dominated comics biz, solve a murder, and receive the credit she deserves for cocreating Triumph Comics’ first female superhero.

Stephanie Klose 

Media Editor, LJ Reviews

Holly Black’s adult debut, Book of Night (Tor, May), is a dark fantasy that features a low-level con artist trying to keep her head down while tending bar in the Berkshires until she’s pulled back into the secret world of those who try to control shadow magic. The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (Berkley, May) is a historical gothic debut set after the Mexican War of Independence at a remote house with a malevolent presence. The hacienda’s new mistress teams up with a priest, who’s also a witch, to set things right. Set during the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera (HQN, May) focuses on a marriage of convenience between a business-minded rum heiress of color and a Scottish earl with a secret. Steamy and smart, this series launch showcases Herrera’s storytelling chops. In All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes (Atria, Mar.), a transgender man stows away on a polar expedition. He is thrilled to be able to live as himself for the first time, but the ship runs into trouble, and the crew must overwinter in a barren wasteland where something dark is lurking.

Stephanie Sendaula

Associate Editor, LJ Reviews

Cooking has been my refuge these past few months, and I’m eagerly anticipating a handful of cookbooks this season that bring a personal touch to the recipes. As a fan of J. Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab, I’ve been awaiting his latest, The Wok: Recipes and Techniques (Norton, Mar.) and I’m looking forward to finding new ways to use this versatile kitchen staple. Another favorite is the third book by popular Half Baked Harvest blogger Tieghan Gerard, Half Baked Harvest Every Day (Clarkson Potter, Feb.); this one already has a spot on my shelf alongside her two previous collections, Half Baked Harvest Cookbook and Half Baked Harvest Super Simple. I’ve also been drawn to award-winning chef Reem Assil’s debut, Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora (Ten Speed, Apr.). So far, I’m especially enjoying the blend of personal stories and family recipes. Lastly, I’m making time to read the latest by Notes from a Young Black Chef author Kwame Onwuachi. His next book, My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef (Knopf, May), shows the full range of American food, sharing his influences along with recipes that inspired him.

Neal Wyatt

Reviews Editor, LJ

There is a flurry of books involving time slips or time travel on the horizon. It starts in March with Rebecca Serle’s One Italian Summer (Atria), featuring a mother and daughter connecting across time. Emma Straub’s This Time Tomorrow (Riverhead, May) has a father and daughter caught in another kind of time loop. End of the World House by Adrienne Celt (S. & S., Apr.) fantastically takes place, in part, in the Louvre and explores time, friendship, art, and more. Kelley Armstrong offers A Rip Through Time (Minotaur, May), which sees a police officer traveling back to the Victorian era and somehow ending up as a housemaid for a moonlighting medical examiner. Emily St. John Mandel is back with Sea of Tranquility (Knopf, Apr.), in which she plays with time in her memorable, metaphysical way. After all that time jumping, it might be lovely to center oneself in the here and now via the pleasures of cooking. Benedetta Jasmine Guetta takes readers into the streets and piazzas of Italy with Cooking alla Giudia: A Celebration of the Jewish Food of Italy (Artisan, Mar.), offering travel advice along with recipes. Readers can explore the world of Balinese cuisine with Paon (Hardie Grant, Jun.) by Tjok Maya Kerthyasa and I Wayan Kresna Yasa, a book notable for its design as well as its exploration of foodways. Lastly, for those who like sweets, and fans of The Great British Baking Show, Benjamina Ebuehi offers A Good Day To Bake (Quadrille, Mar.).

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