Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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Review of

The Climbers by Keith Gray

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Sully is the best tree climber in the village. He has what's known amongst the kids as 'reach'. But what happens when a new kid shows up in town? A new kid, called Nottingham, who clambers up some of the hardest trees with ease? Suddenly Sully is worried that his status is being threatened, and not only that, that his chance to name the final, unnamed big tree in the park by being the first to conquer it, might be snatched from his hands. How can Sully stop Nottingham? And will it cost him his best friend, or maybe even all of his friends, to do so? Full Review

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Review of

Locked Out Lily by Nick Lake and Emily Gravett

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Lily is, or was, or has been, very ill, and to give her parents relief she's been told to stay with her grandma for a few days. The parents need the relief as Lily's baby sibling is just about to be born – a child Lily swears she hates already and wants nothing to do with. But on tracking back home for word of her parents (and her plush toy so she can sleep) she finds stony-eyed simulacra of her parents, and the babe-in-arms, already installed. These devilish interlopers need to be ousted to get the family back intact, even if it's not the family Lily wants – and all she has to help her in the task are some talking animals – Crow, Mole, Mouse and Snake. Full Review

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Review of

Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep by Philip Reeve

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In a word, rich. There is certainly an abundance of riches in this story set on a peculiar island called Wildsea, British but way west, beyond the Scillies. There are troll people on it, and sea-witches, and legends of the Dark family that has to keep watch for magical islands and their monster approaching from even further west, where no ship dare sail. The current Darks are the Watcher, Andrewe, who has to keep notes of activity from the Hidden Lands, his brother Will who lives in London with too much science in his head to worry about such local yokel superstitions, and Andrewe's foundling daughter, who washed up out of the sea one day eleven years ago. But when Andrewe Dark drowns himself, both his sullen brother and his curious ward are thrust into the world of protecting their island, like it or not. Full Review

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Review of

Rules for Vampires by Alex Foulkes

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Eleonore Von Motteberg (or 'Leo' for short) is a Vampire. She drinks blood, she sleeps during the day, and she can Grimwalk (turning into a flock of bats to travel around, although not all of them remember to come back). Pretty cool stuff. Now, on the night of her hundredth birthnight, she has to go out and hunt her first human. However, instead she ends up killing two humans by accident and burning down an orphanage. Oops! And to make things worse, the ghosts of one of the orphans and the evil master of the orphanage come back to haunt her. So, not only does Leo have to team up with the friendly ghost Minna to stop the ghost of the Orphanmaster before he becomes unstoppably powerful, she has to do it all while hiding it from her family. Did I mention vampires and ghosts hate each other? Yeah, there's a reason why there are rules for vampires… Full Review

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Review of

The Ash House by Angharad Walker

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A new boy arrives at The Ash House. He doesn't know his name, or why he is there but he is used to the system, used to different places and different faces. He meets Dom who names him Sol and sets out to teach him the rules of The Ash House. These rules centre on a variety of Nicenesses set out by the absent Headmaster. All children must remember their Niceness and complete their chores, working as a hive in the smouldering shadows of The Ash House. But soon their easy peace is shattered by the arrival of the Doctor. By the end of the story, lives will be changed forever and The Ash House will never be the same again. Full Review

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Review of

The Week at World's End by Emma Carroll

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First, the title. We're in World's End Close, a mediocre set of houses, where Stevie (Vie to her friends) finds fun only with the family dog and with the boy over the road. But we could also be at World's End, because something taking a great chunk of the fun away is the fact that the Cuban Missile Crisis is kicking off. The Soviet boats are getting blockaded as America tries to reduce the risk of nuclear missiles offshore, and not much else is able to make the news. That said, Vie has news of her own – Anna, a secretive young woman hiding in their coal shed. Anna has, in no short time, taken a strong interest in the American airforce base behind the Close, said she'd locate something she wanted and leave, failed to leave, and implied her life was at risk. But surely this bit of intrigue has got nothing to do with what the Cold War is doing miles away? Full Review

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Review of

Monster Hunting For Beginners by Ian Mark and Louis Ghibault

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Meet Jack. Now Jack knows very little about being fearless and nimble and quick, for he's a slight boy, and although he wants for danger and peril and interesting things his dad refuses to let him out of his sight. That's because Jack's mother knew all about monsters, and look what happened to her – she died. Luckily or unluckily then, depending on your point of view, a giant ogre will threaten his aunt when Jack's father also goes AWOL, Jack will fluke the ogre's death, a dwarfish wizard-type will make him an apprentice monster hunter, and he'll be given a book that tells him all he needs to know about the perils he always wanted closer contact with. The book's name? Monster Hunting for Beginners... Full Review

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Review of

The Small Things by Lisa Thompson

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Although Anna has friends at school, she feels like she never really fits in. Her family don't have enough money to let her do after school activities, and so she feels like her life at home is boring in comparison to theirs. When a new girl joins her class, Anna is asked to partner her, but things are complicated because the new girl, Ellie, is unwell and so can't attend school in person. Instead, she joins in with the class by using a robot. Can Anna overcome the challenge of making friends with someone through a robot, and is she even interesting enough to be a good friend to Ellie? Full Review

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Review of

The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter

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Faith's family home is teetering on the edge of a cliff, literally. Is that crack in the garden getting bigger? Is the house starting to slope a little? And as the house seems to be falling apart, so is Faith's family. Her dad has disappeared, and her mum is struggling to cope, barely leaving her bed. So that leaves Faith in charge, taking care of her little brother Noah, taking care of her mum, feeding everyone, getting Noah to school, and avoiding awkward questions from interfering teachers. Is her little brother okay? Why is he obsessed with what he claims is a ghost in the cellar? What should she do about the house? Can she find a way to raise enough money to fix it? What's happened to her dad? Why did he disappear? Maybe he'll come back if she manages to get funding for the house? She carries the weight of all these worries on her constantly, and she doesn't know how much longer the cliff will hold together, or how long she can keep on keeping on. Full Review

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Review of

Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston

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Julia, our pre-teen heroine, has been packed off with her parents and their cat from the family home in SW England to be lighthousekeepers for a summer, in the far NE of the Scottish islands. Here be Vikings, that kind of Scottish island. Dad is going to be automating the lantern, which is his specialist thing, while mum will be leaving her career in algae behind to hunt the elusive Greenland shark. And Julia, well, she will be homesick and alone – until she suddenly finds company one night. Full Review

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Review of

Otherland by Louie Stowell

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Myra and Rohan are like Yin and Yang – Myra is loud, bright and hates rules, while Rohan is very polite, serious and worries about the tiniest things. Their only connection? Being born and briefly dying at the same time at the same hospital on Midsummer's day. And so, every year their families get together to celebrate the two's birthday/deathday. But when Rohan's little sister Shilpa is taken by the fairy queen, they must journey to the Otherland, a magical realm full of fairies, vampires, dragons, and Gods. It's going to be the worst night of their lives. Full Review

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Review of

Archibald Lox and the Slides of Bon Repell: Archibald Lox series, Volume 2, book 2 of 3 by Darren Shan

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So. Having done the impossible and unpicked the lock to the Forgotten Crypt, from which the Departed communicate with the Merge, Archie now has grop to think about. But before that, soirees. Soirees! Archie, much to Inez's amusement, doesn't even know what one of those is. But he manages to come through the fancy party unscathed, even after an uncomfortable encounter with Kurtis, whose fledgling romance with Inez was crushed in the first volume of this series.  Full Review

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Review of

Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths by Maisie Chan

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Danny is eleven years old, and what he really, really loves to do is draw. He creates fantastical comics, whilst his best friend Ravi adds the words. Danny's dad, however, wants Danny to concentrate on his maths, and forget about the drawing, because he says nobody can make a living from drawing! At least Danny has his own room, where he can draw in secret and in peace. But then one day his parents tell him they have a surprise for him, and this surprise turns out to be his grandmother who has come over from China to live with them, and who will not only be sharing Danny's bedroom but she will also be sleeping on the top bunk of his bunk bed! Danny is horrified! His Nai Nai (grandmother) speaks no English, and Danny finds himself forced into being her babysitter, and showing her around the town. Poor Danny, stuck on a maths project, frustrated with his bedroom situation, and then he even has a falling out with Ravi...how on earth will things ever get better?! Full Review

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Review of

Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt: Archibald Lox series, Volume 2, book 1 of 3 by Darren Shan

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The second trilogy in Shan's Merge saga opens with our hero, Archie, back in London in the world of the Born. It's not been easy, explaining to his foster parents where he's been, or slipping back into ordinary life and forgetting about Inez and his other friends in the Merge, but Archie has done his best.... well, except for visiting veteran locksmith Winston in Big Ben's clock tower and except for fiddling with that sneaky master lock in Seven Dials every time he can sneak away. Full Review

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Review of

Monster Doughnuts by Gianna Pollero and Sarah Horne

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After their parents mysteriously disappeared, Grace and Danni have been left to run the family bakery. But Grace needs the doughnuts and sweet treats that Danni bakes for a rather unusual reason...even though she's only ten years old, she is a monster hunter! Monsters have a very sweet tooth, and Grace uses a number of methods to defeat them such as throwing baking powder on them, or tricking them into eating a sweet treat that will, ultimately, be their demise. One day, though, Grace finds herself facing a cyclops monster called Mr Harris, who has a weakness for doughnuts but doesn't seem to explode as the other monsters do, and so things start to get very strange… Full Review

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Review of

Twitch by M G Leonard

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Twitch is a boy who loves birds. He keeps pigeons at home, and chickens, and even has swallows nesting in his bedroom! His time spent watching and helping birds is easy compared to that of his time in school. But things are about to change for Twitch in all aspects of his life as there is a dangerous bank robber on the run, and it's possible that the missing bank haul is hidden somewhere in Aves Wood, the place where Twitch has his secret hide and that he knows like the back of his hand! Can Twitch solve the mystery, and find the missing millions? Full Review

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Review of

Kate on the Case by Hannah Peck

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Meet Kate, although I got the impression she'd rather be a Catherine – and one specific Catherine at that. For Catherine Rodriguez is Kate's idol, and the author of our heroine's favourite possession, The Special Correspondent Manual. Armed with a plucky father, that book, and her talking mouse called Rupert, she is all equipped to manage a train ride to the Arctic, to see her scientist mother for the first time in yonks. However, this is a train ride with a difference, for on board is a greedy-seeming harridan and her cat, a thief – and two glowing eyes, shining from the darkness in a blink-and-you'll-miss-them style. It's definitely a case for a new young investigative journalist... Full Review

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Review of

Luna Rae is Not Alone by Hayley Webster

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Luna Rae has just moved house. Moving house is always tricky, but especially when you're ten years old, and you miss your old home, and you and your little sister have to start a new school but your mum seems to be out working all the time. Then there's your dad, who doesn't seem like he's coping so well, and so there's no one to take care of things but you. Everything feels different, and strange, and mysterious, and so Luna finds a way of coping is by watching. She turns detective, and starts keeping an eye on her new neighbourhood, but it turns out she's not the only one keeping watch! Full Review

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Review of

Two Terrible Vikings by Francesca Simon and Steve May

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In a small Viking village there live two twins, Hack and Whack, who are eager to be the very worst Vikings ever! Nothing can stop their mad marauding, as they cause havoc at a birthday party, chaos whilst tracking a troll, and undertake a grand journey to raid Bad Island with their friends! They get up to all kinds of mischief and naughty behaviour, along with their wolf-cub Bitey-Bitey, and their crazy cast of friends. Full Review

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Review of

The Day the Screens Went Blank by Danny Wallace and Gemma Correll

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Meet Stella and her family. They're just innocently trying to have a Sunday evening in together, watching a film – using three different screens to watch three different things, mind – when poof everything goes blank. And it's not just their home, but the entire south-western village of Mousehole, and not just that, either, but the whole country, if not world. Suddenly people are constantly on their phones – hoping they're first to get a screen back, and not what they were constantly doing on them before. Toasters can toast, but TVs cannot do the V part of their job, and no computer can show its computations. You might think this is going to be a social comedy about people stuck in such a Luddite experience against their will, but no. For the family finally remember Stella's grandma, and see if they can get across country to her. Hence this has to go down as a road-trip book. But not just that, a slapstick road-trip comedy. And more than that, too – for it's a slapstick, high-drama, high-octane road-trip comedy with oodles of cuddly heart that kids of all ages will love. Full Review

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Review of

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold

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April's father, a scientist, has been given a job on a remote island called Bear Island, and he accepts the job deciding to take his daughter April with him. They live alone anyway, since April's mother died some time before, and he feels it will be educational for her to experience the island and all its natural beauty. April already has an affinity with nature, and she's excited to travel with her father, thinking of all the fun things they will be able to experience together on the island. But when they get there, her father finds that his work monitoring and recording the temperatures just takes up too much of his time, and so April is left to explore by herself. Her father had reassured her that there were no longer any bears living on Bear Island, but one day April thinks she catches a glimpse of one, and so she sets out to find the Bear, and then when she sees he is injured, to befriend and help him. Full Review

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Review of

The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll and Kaja Kajfez

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Fran, the gardener's daughter at a posh country house, is worried. She's just cracked her garden fork through quite a grim discovery - a large bone, buried under the potatoes. But she's even more worried when she learns that that event coincided with Leo, the older child of the house, breaking his leg while playing cricket on the lawn. She is due to get even more worried when she finds something else that also seems to foretell a surprise. Tasked with shoving Leo around the grounds in his bathchair, she might have reason to be out of her mind with fear, when she learns what he is seeking - a long-forgotten burial chamber. But surely that won't act as a premonition to anything - not here in the sultry, summery days of 1914? Full Review

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Review of

His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters

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In September 1944 something came down in Oban Woods, near the village of Hurstwick. It came down hard, taking the spire of the village church with it, destroying a stone shack, and leaving a wide trail through the wood, but no trace of what it actually was. German secret weapon was the local gossip, but there should have been an explosion and a crater, and there were neither of those things. Full Review

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Review of

The Humiliations of Welton Blake by Alex Wheatle

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We meet Welton Blake at the worst of times – only they should be the best of times. He should be getting a text from the most bae-worthy girl in school in regards to a cinema date, but his phone has packed up, he's chundered last night's meal and his breakfast over another girl in class, who's duffed him up in response, and the wanna-bae seems to actually be with someone else anyway. On a bigger scale he's living with his mother and not much income now that the dad has left the picture – yes, things are so bad they're resorting to having cabbage for dinner. I know, right? But surely this is just a blip, a day at school to forget, and everything (like his vomit) will all come out in the wash? This can't be the start of a most nightmarish time for young Welton? Full Review

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Review of

Glassheart by Katharine Orton

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Nona and her Uncle Antoni have lived together ever since the Blitz claimed the lives of her family. Now, in the aftermath of the war, they travel all over the country, replacing stained-glass windows in buildings destroyed by bombs. Their latest job takes them out to the wilds of Dartmoor, where Nona discovers that her world is full of ancient and powerful magic. She also discovers that a mysterious entity, known only as The Soldier, is hell-bent on using Nona's innate magic for his own ends, and will not stop until he has her… Full Review

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Review of

The Treasure in the Tower by Rob Keeley

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Rob Keeley is back! Hooray! We here at Bookbag Towers are always happy to read a new adventure from Rob - his stories combine fast pace and lots of action, an easy to read style, an unerring eye for children's friendships and rivalries, and always a good dollop of naughty humour. They're all present here, in The Treasure in the Tower. The chance purchase of a book during a school trip sparks the whole adventure. Who can follow the clues best and find the treasure? Jess, her brother Mason and their friend Kessie through sheer persistence? Or spoiled brat Perdita with her money and tech gadgets and willingness to cheat? Full Review

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