2022 Begins on BookBound with reflections on 2021

Whilst it is difficult to believe we are already on the other side of Christmas and the New Year (where did that time go?), and that Children have returned to school this week, it does mean that we at team BookBound are back to doing what it is we love best – sharing content from our continuing adventure throughout the world of Children’s literature. We have so much content planned, and look forward to sharing reviews, blog tours, and of course author features with you all.

As 2021 drew to a close myself and fellow BookBound blogger, Helen, sat down and discussed our year of reading and reviewing, and enjoyed sharing our favourite titles with each other. We decided to use this information as our form of a “round-up” now because it enables all you lovely school staff to keep our recommendations to hand as you look to share those that we inspire you with, with your students, or use as a wishlist for purchasing – whether it be for enjoying at home or in school (or both!).

Sam –

Last year was the most successful year of this blog to date, as year on year it continues to grow, and that is largely down to the incredible efforts made by publishers, who have sent out incredible – and quite literally stunning – books for me to read and share my reviews of on here, and to them I offer a huge heartfelt thank you. I have also been super honoured to feature authors that have given up their time to write content for me, and each time I get that opportunity to do so it is a real ‘pinch me’ moment, because never did I imagine having such close links with these incredibly talented writers, and I have made some friends for life through doing so, and to all of you I would like to remind you that I am your biggest fan, and I will continue to advocate your brilliantly beautiful books. Always.

Highlights of 2021 on a personal level have included my close friend, Helen, joining team BookBound, as her insight into what she is reading has been a core part of the content here on the blog from April onwards. Helen devours books, and gives such fantastic recommendations and reviews as a consequence, with her round up style blogs being incredibly popular content on the blog. It is inspiring to co-blog with you Helen, and I look forward to our ‘meetings’ throughout 2022, which will mostly involve debating on who qualifies to read the highly anticipated book post that arrives (much like 2021 in that respect then!).

Blog content highlights have included having my son write a review for my blog, with him choosing to write about the Bunny Vs Monkey titles by Jamie Smart, and seeing how much my reading (and blogging) had rubbed off on him. I loved Charlotte Guillain’s feature ‘The Importance of Trees in Lockdown’, and I highly recommend her 2021 publication What Did The Tree See?

In March I took part in the Vampirates blog tour, with my first ever video blog, created entirely by the incredible Justin Somper, and in May Wolfstongue author Sam Thompson shared his ‘Top Ten Wolf-Themed Books for Children’, which has a fantastic list of recommendations. Meet Matilda Rocket Builder by Dom Conlon is a firm favourite that has stuck with me since I reviewed it in May.

June saw the Pop Up Festival Presents, and it was incredible to have Sita Brahmachari write for the blog, in relation to Swallows Kiss, and hear about the festival events. We also celebrated Pride Month by sharing an interview with The Pirate Mums author Jodie Lancet-Grant.

Other titles from June onwards that I would highly recommend include Rumaysa A Fairy Tale by Radiya Hafiya, which it is hard to believe is a debut title, Between Sea and Sky by Nicola Penfold, and Shadowghast by Thomas Taylor, which is the latest title in the Malamander series, and one I have eagerly anticipated the publication of.

In September Juliette Forrest allowed us to interview her for the publication of her latest must read, The Night My Dream Came Alive, and in 2021 The Memory Thieves by Darren Simpson, and Lightning Falls by Amy Wilson were also titles that inspired author interviews right here on BookBound, and are the highlights of my blogging journey, and opportunities I will always cherish having had.

For Halloween myself and Helen wrote a double review feature of Hag Storm by Victoria Williamson, which is everything you could wish for in a children’s middle grade title, and tells the story of poet Robert Burns as a child. In November I fell in love with The Star Maker’s Apprentice by Sam Hay and Xin Li, and SWOP the Satsuma-Sized Secret by Lucy Noguera, which is perfect for those children embarking on early chapter read adventures.

Towards the end of the year I really enjoyed Diary of a Christmas Elf by Ben Miller, and so many more festive feel goods, and it got me reflecting on all the Board Books I have shared with the little ones in my life, and all the other titles this year too. Whilst it had been a year of ups and downs for me, the consistent part of it has been the books I have found excitement in, and the escapism they offered. I continue to share these authors and their titles, past and present, at every possible moment, and with whoever I have book related conversation and/or connections with. I look forward to seeing what titles are published in 2022, and know that I am a better person for the books I have had the pleasure of enjoying in 2021.

Helen –

I was so delighted when Sam asked me to become her blogging partner, I had already been reading children’s literature as part of my job as a primary school librarian and reading advocate. So to be able to read the books and give my opinions on them was a dream come true.

I’ve been lucky enough to join Darren Simpson’s launch party for his amazing book The Memory Thief, this has become really popular with yr5 at my school. I was also able to join Walker Books for a look at upcoming titles for 2022, and there are some crackers on the way.

This year I’ve fallen in love with YA books, with 2 of my favourites being A Hunters Moon by Danny Weston and Cruel Castle by Bryony Pearce. Both of these were great for having a scare before bed. These books made you believe you were one of the characters and you were fighting for your life. I told my husband all about the story line in both of these books and all he would ask was how I slept at night!

There has been so much amazing Middle grade books that I’ve loved. Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick was brilliant so I was so excited when Crater Lake Evolution was published and it was amazing, I loved the characters and it was interesting to see how high school changed their relationships. The Night My Dreams Came Alive by Juliette Forrest was another amazing book and we were so lucky to interview her for the blog. The Shadows of Rookhaven was an amazing sequel to Padraig Kenny’s The Monsters of Rookhaven, in fact it was even better!

Of course it wouldn’t have been the same unless there was a visit to Eerie on Sea to catch up with Herbie Lemon in Shadowghast by Thomas Taylor. There is still a lot of unanswered questions, and we all are looking forward to the next one.

I took part in my first solo blog tour, the book Fireborn by Aisling Fowler was out of this world and I can’t wait for the next one. And of course who could forget Hag Storm by Victoria Williamson, a wonderful story with loads of twists and turns. I also adored Otherland by Louie Stowell, it was just so brilliant, and for me this title is one of those books that deserve to be made into a film.

When asked what my favourite book of 2021 is I say I can’t choose, because there are so many good ones that I’ve read.

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