Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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Eren by Simon P Clark

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People - Mum, mostly - are keeping secrets from Oli. Why have they had to leave London and come to live in the country with Uncle Rob? Why hasn't Dad come too? Why does everyone keep turning off the TV news every time it comes on? Why does Em's dad dislike Oli when he doesn't even know him? When will Dad come? When will life go back to normal? Full review...

Young Sherlock: Stone Cold by Andrew Lane

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Every human being is a mystery, even to themselves, so there's a particular pleasure to be found in tracing the roots of someone's interests and life's work. Just how did our hero develop his ability, for example, to tell a person's character, profession and history within minutes of meeting him or her? In this, the seventh volume in the series of books about the early years of the famous Sherlock Holmes, we see how events and a most intriguing couple of mentors combine to lead him down a path to his eventual role as a consulting detective. Well, if he survives till adulthood, that is. Of all his talents the most pronounced one does seem to be the knack of finding people who are determined to kill him. Full review...

Tom Gates Totally Brilliant Annual by Liz Pichon

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Fans of Tom Gates are in for an extra treat with the publication of this Totally Brilliant Annual, which announces its presence with a rather 'loud' front cover, replete with starts, arrows, doodles swirls, aliens and stick men in bold, bright primary colours. Full review...

The Rising by Tom Moorhouse

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Strife and Kale are two young water voles who can sniff out trouble better than their careful sister Ivy and to the fury of their protective mother, Aven. They just can't help it. But Kale isn't telling Strife everything - he has a secret. When long-lost Uncle Sylvan arrives warning of danger and the siblings eavesdrop on the adults' conversation, Kale's secret is exposed. Even though she doesn't fully understand it, Strife follows her brother into danger to avert a bigger danger. The quest on which these two young water voles embark will test them to their limits and they'll need all the help Uncle Sylvan and Fodur the rat can provide... Full review...

Wolf Brother: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver

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Living six thousand years ago, after the Ice Age but before the spread of agriculture, Torak and his people understand the natural world. They revere the animals they hunt and never waste an ounce of prey. A deer provides them not only with food, but also with clothes, water carriers, shoes, rope, even needles. Torak and his people also understand spirituality. They see the sacred in the seasons and the cycle of the moon. And they believe in demons. Full review...

Lockwood and Co: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

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No one knows why ghosts have begun rising in such overwhelming numbers, threatening a terrible death to anyone they touch, and the fact that only children and young people can see them just makes everything that bit more mysterious. And it's no exaggeration to say that the members of the smallest and shabbiest psychic detection agency in Britain have their hands full in this, their second adventure. Their recent successes have brought in plenty of work, but also jealousy: their rivals from the well-funded Fittes Agency are determined not only to make them fail, but to make them look as stupid and incompetent as possible in the process. Full review...

Strong Winds Trilogy: The Salt-Stained Book by Julia Jones and Claudia Myatt

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Donny and his mother left their bungalow on the outskirts of Leeds and headed off to Suffolk to meet Donny's great aunt. It was never going to be easy as Skye, Donny's mother, was deaf and just about mute. She and Donny communicated by signing and usually they managed quite well, but when Skye had a breakdown in a car park in Colchester, their camper van was towed away and fourteen-year-old Donny was taken into care. He couldn't understand why none of the officials would believe him – in fact, were they all that they seemed? And why will no one let him see his mother? Full review...

Princess Disgrace 2: Second Term at Tall Towers by Lou Kuenzler

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Princess Grace is starting her second term at the prestigious Tall Towers academy and the class are preparing for the annual Ballet of the Flowers. Each class member must select a native flower from the island and perform a dance, representing the qualities of their chosen flower. The princesses select the most delicate and beautiful blooms, including water lily, poppy and crocus. But how on earth is Grace, the clumsiest, scruffiest and most unladylike of all the princesses, to choose a flower that reflects her personality? Full review...

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

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William Everett's father has risen high in the railway. But it wasn't always thus. He spent many years working for Cornelius Van Horne as a manual labourer, cutting and blasting through swathes of Canada and laying tracks. When Will and his father witness the laying of the last piece of track, there's an avalanche. And Will's father saves Van Horne's life. Promotion and success followed and now Van Horne is dead, Will's father is general manager and the world's biggest train - the Boundless, at 987 carriages long - will carry his body in perpetuity. Full review...

Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

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Meet Astra. She's a young girl who doesn't like the idea of being 209 years old. Well, who would? Technically she will be ageing, but not in reality, for she is to spend two whole centuries asleep on a spaceship as her family travel the massive distance to Nova Mundi. Given the chance to explore the ship a little before everyone is shut down for the journey she finds a food replicator in the dining hall, and helps herself to a sneaky chocolate biscuit supper. She then realises the machine could make her the ultimate cake, but is unsuccessful when the small food factory seems to break down, and she is forced to be frozen in her pod. Unfortunately, the machine itself is far from frozen… Full review...

Daisy Saves the Day by Shirley Hughes

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I don’t know anybody that didn’t grow up with some Shirley Hughes books in their lives, and for me it was always 'My Naughty Little Sister'. I was very excited to receive this copy of her latest book, 'Daisy Saves the Day'. It’s about a young girl, Daisy Dobbs, who is sent off to be scullery maid for a couple of sisters, the Misses Simms, far away from her home. It is difficult being away from her brothers and her Mum, and Daisy is not terribly good at housework. One day though, Daisy is put in a position where she has to save the day or else everything might be lost forever. Will she manage it? Full review...

Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery

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Everyone has a favourite book, I think. A defining book that sometimes they read as a child, or sometimes as an adult, but it moved them, or spoke to them in a particular way and perhaps it changed their lives forever. For me, that book is Anne of Green Gables. It has shaped so much of my life that I can't imagine ever not having read it. Indeed, I have read it so many times that I lost count just how many years ago. Anne became a true heroine for me as a young girl, and she remains one still now that I have a little girl of my own. Full review...

A Tiger Tale by Holly Webb

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Kate is missing Granddad. Things just haven't been the same since he died. No more walks to school together, no more long chats in the potting shed, no more stories. The worst thing is that nobody else seems bothered. Mum keeps laughing and joking as if nothing ever happened and big sister Molly is holed away in her bedroom. Full review...

Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn

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This is a story about Violet Remy-Robinson. Violet is about ten years old, her favourite activity is climbing, she is an only child and has learned useful skills from her parents such as how to read a menu in French and mix a perfect cocktail. She lives in a stylish and incredibly tidy flat and when we first meet our heroine she is hanging upside down in a tree. One could safely say that Violet is not a typical ten year old. When her eccentric neighbour, Dee Dee Derota, has her precious jewel, The Pearl of the Orient, stolen the clues lead Violet to think that her strange new neighbours are responsible. However no one will listen to her so the intrepid Violet decides to discover the truth herself. Full review...

The Odyssey (The Classics) by Rosemary Sutcliff and Alan Lee (illustrator)

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It took ten years but the drama contained within The Iliad finally concluded, and the few people to survive were able to go back home. Many packed up their black ships and sailed from whence they arrived, although one was not to find the journey so direct. Odysseus, and his command of twelve ships, were to be battered and torn, tried and tested in all manner of ways, before they had any hope of finishing their circuitous loops of the classical world. But for all the threat they endured, something equally base and nasty was happening at the home they so actively sought… Full review...

Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Quest for the Magic Porcupine by John Dougherty and David Tazzyman (illustrator)

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Here's an abject lesson for you – when you've got a large collection of evil badgers in your prison, don't let them play with a Monopoly set. For one thing one of them will eat all the fake banknotes, and for another it will come with a 'get out of jail free' card. Then the rain will be mucky and smell of bananas, and the King will come knocking on the door and asking for help and suggesting the butcher in the post office is the best person to tell you about stories and might give a clue as to how best to go about living through this one. And it'll still only be chapter four. Full review...

A Brotherly Bother (Pip Street) by Jo Simmons

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This is a tale of two elderly men, neither of whom can get around very well without help. One is Richard Keiths, who has lived on Pip Street, and taught electric guitar lessons, for as long as anyone can remember. He needs his mobility scooter, but it's gone and broken down. The other is a mysterious rich man, who swoops into town on the back of a crazy sleigh towed by five huge malamute dogs. For some reason he seems to have an eye on the Keiths house, number 8, and is talking of demolishing it – and possibly even the whole street – so he can go fracking for oil underneath everyone's happiness. Oh, and he's also Richard Keiths' brother. Can our heroic children friends raise enough money to keep the scooter on the road and the road intact from the baddy's evil intentions? Full review...

Paddington Marches On by Michael Bond

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We all remember Paddington, I’m sure. The Brown family and their housekeeper, the formidable Mrs Bird, and the nice/nasty/nosy next door neighbour Mr Curry and the rest of the gang. This book of seven classic Paddington stories has everything I knew and loved about the bear, reissued for the next generation. Full review...

The Iliad (The Classics) by Rosemary Sutcliff and Alan Lee (illustrator)

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How do you retell the Iliad for the modern young reader? Do you, for example, have Helen of Troy but only imply, not state, that hers was the face that launched a thousand ships? Should you, as Rosemary Sutcliff does here, ignore all the important background detail and just let the story tell itself? How do you convey to the masses the mythical talent of a story that has lasted millennia, yet when it all comes down to it is just a lot of detail of people fighting, and fighting, and fighting? Full review...

The Eye of the Falcon (Gods and Warriors Book 3) by Michelle Paver

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It's been seven long months since Hylas and Pirra were separated in the wake of the devastating eruption of Thalakrea. The eruption was followed by tsunami and the coldest winter anyone can remember. There is no spring. No sun. Full review...

Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator)

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In the eyes of those who write proverbs, giving is as good as receiving. Similarly in the eyes of Paddington Bear, taking a test is as good as giving a test, for he is without equal in giving tests – to the patience of the Brown family who adopted him many years ago, principally. Other people he meets on a temporary basis in the course of his adventures – pantomime magicians, art school bosses, country house owners – have varying degrees of luck and ability in dealing with him, but it's the family he returns to each night that is put through a worrying mill so often, and still comes out loving him. But when he himself takes a test – well, the kind it actually is is best for you to discover yourself… Full review...

Paddington at Work by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator)

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You remember the stories of a bear called Paddington coming to London from darkest Peru – leaving his aunt Lucy behind in a retirement home in Lima? Once on these shores he met up with the Brown family, and then all hell broke loose. He blundered into one misfortune, made mistake after error after miscomprehension, and only barely got away with his marmalade sandwiches intact. Well, these are these same stories – but with a slight twist. This is the second coming of Paddington, as he is once again on a trans-Atlantic liner, returning this time from a holiday back home. Only, this time he will not quite reach London when the disturbing adventures of the bear and the Brown family are resumed… Full review...

The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Rollercoaster Riot by Steven Butler

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Beanoland, Beanotown, is going to be the home of the world's most extreme rollercoaster, the Vomit Comet, and as he's a fan of all things extreme, scary and menacing, Dennis the Menace is determined to brighten up his current school term with an early ride on it. By an act of subterfuge during his latest detention he finds out the school is holding a competition to win the prize of being first in line at its grand opening. Surely this has Dennis's name all over it? Well, he thinks so – but then he doesn't yet know what he has to do to win the contest… Full review...

The Girl Who Wasn't There by Karen McCombie

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Maisie doesn’t believe in ghosts. At least she didn’t until she started at her new school. Her dad has a new job working as the school caretaker and as Maisie stands at her new bedroom window one night she thinks she sees something or someone at one of the windows of the closed and empty school. On her first day the other girls tell her of rumours of a ghost of a long-gone girl who wanders the school corridors. Could this be the answer to the mysterious shape at the window? With the help of her new friend Kat, Maisie decides to find out more about the school ghost and solve the mystery. However her investigations unearth surprises that she could never have expected. Full review...

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

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A story about sad endings.
A story about happy beginnings.
A story to make you realise who is special.

This is the blurb on the back jacket of Apple and Rain and it sums up the book just perfectly. Full review...

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler

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Who doesn't dream at times of having a super-power? Suddenly being able to creep around without anyone knowing you're there, or to soar above the tree-tops with the birds? When you're an ordinary thirteen year old girl, going to an ordinary school, finding out that bits of you have started disappearing and reappearing must come as a bit of a shock, especially as it happens the first time right in the middle of a rather boring double geography lesson. Luckily Jessica has Izzy, who willingly helps her recover from the news and start to control the way she uses this new and exciting aspect of her life. And Izzy isn't even jealous, which, let's face it, is definitely the sign of a real, true friend. Full review...

Danger Is Everywhere: A Handbook for Avoiding Danger by David O'Doherty and Chris Judge

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Meet Docter Noel Zone. Yes, it's his spelling – safely making sure people don't think he is a real doctor. And safety is his first and foremost interest. After having to rescue too many people in his job as a swimming pool lifeguard – he banned all movement in and around the water as it was just too dangerous, after which however the people in the water started to drown – he made it safer for all concerned by removing the water. I'm sure he'd barricaded the diving board off long before – even in his own home he's removed the stairs as a safety risk. This book is his illustrated guide to playing it safe, in all aspects of life – from the hazmat suit needed to make toast to illustrating what you need to do when attacked by a polar bear or a toothbrush snake. Full review...

Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton and David Tazzyman

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Meet Alan Taylor. No, sorry – you'll have to look down if you want to. He's only 15.24 centimetres tall, but now you're looking down you can see the blue sparks that come off him when his electric muscles move him. Alan's a true gentleman born and (ginger)bread, but he's been tainted by money – a massive fortune the little gingerbread man carries around in a biscuit tin. He's of the impression that he needs to scatter his dosh around in order to make friends. Nobody else in their right mind in the town of Lamonic Bibber is of the same opinion, but two people who are certainly keen to be on the receiving end of the cash include the nasty Mr Gum – and he wants to receive it all through some evil robbery. What's more, he'll do it in the middle of Alan's impromptu party, complete with helicopter rides, a full fairground and the world's nastiest hot dog stand… Full review...