Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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The Glory by Lauren St John

4.5star.jpg Teens

Alex is what you might call a disruptive teenager. She's always getting into trouble but the latest trouble is the worst yet and her mum and step-dad have had enough. Even her father, far away in Australia with his new family, thinks something must be done. So Alex is sent all the way out to the States to a teenage boot camp. But even naughty teenagers have their plus points, and Alex's is her love of horses. She'll do anything to save the mustang scout from the slaughterhouse. Full review...

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Mark has been battling cancer for more than half his life. For the last seven years he has missed school, been through treatments, and come close to death time and again. With the call that once again the cancer is back, he just can't face going through it again and so he takes his dog Beau and they run away to go and climb a mountain, with the intention that he will never return. Full review...

Game Changer by Tim Bowler

4.5star.jpg Teens

Mikey is afraid of open spaces. He would much rather hide in his room - in his wardrobe, actually - than face the world outside. But his family, in particular his sister Meggie, are very supportive. And with Meggie's help, Mikey is gradually beginning to face that world outside. But then something goes horribly, horribly wrong. Mikey sees something he shouldn't have seen. And the gang knows what he saw. The gang knows where he lives. And the gang wants to talk to him... Full review...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (150th Anniversary Edition) by Lewis Carroll and Anthony Browne

4star.jpg Confident Readers

We here at the Bookbag aren't always of a Reithian, canon-following bent; we don't necessarily feel the need to urge classic texts down our readers' throats. But in this instance it is worthwhile. Not since this book first appeared 150 years ago has something so surreal, so oddball and so peculiarly plotted captured the imagination anything quite as this did. It's a classic that, if you haven't before, you can polish off in definitely under two hours. It's something then that on this occasion I suggest you should do, if only to find out what complete rubbish it is. Full review...

The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Twelve year old Moll wakes in the night to find herself deep in the dark forest. The nightmare that haunts her sleep has brought her to a place of danger, summoned there by the evil Skull and his wicked sorcery. Moll and her fiercely protective wildcat, Gryff, must fight back against the dark magic before it is too late. At first she does not understand why she has been chosen for the task but as her chilling adventure continues Moll learns more about her past and the part it will play in saving those she loves from Skull and the horror he threatens. Full review...

Dragon Shield: 02: The London Pride by Charlie Fletcher

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Your city is lost. Your city is not yours. Your city is mine.

That's what Bast says. The Ancient Egyptian goddess, freed from thousands of years imprisonment, has unleashed her magic. Time has stopped. All the humans are frozen in suspended animation. All the humans except, that is, brother and sister Will and Jo, who are protected by the scarab bracelets they wear. And now, Bast has even succeeded in freezing some of the Spits (good statues) and has sent the bad statues (Taints) to find the two children who are threatening her plans. Full review...

How to Fly with Broken Wings by Jane Elson

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Willem doesn't usually find homework challenging. He's good at schoolwork. But Mrs Hubert has given him an assignment he's going to find difficult. He must make two friends of his own age. That's tricky when you're on the autistic spectrum and you don't communicate well. It's even more difficult when almost all your classmates join in with Finn when he bullies you and makes you jump from increasingly high places. Sasha is torn. She loves Finn to pieces but she can't bear bullying and she hates herself for not standing up for Willem. And Finn has a secret of his own that's driving his rotten behaviour. Full review...

Viking Longship by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Fly on the Wall is a new series of history books by award-winning duo Manning and Granström, which aim to bring history to life for young readers. Viking Longship is the story of Grimm, a Viking warrior who buys a broken ship called the Sea Dragon and fixes it up to set sail in search of pastures new. The story follows Grimm's progress as he invades England with his band of warriors and then creates a farm settlement where his family can live in peace. The book touches on various aspects of Viking life before coming full circle when the settlement is raided by Saxons, culminating in a Viking funeral and a final image of the longboat in flames. Full review...

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

TTwig's mother is the most beautiful woman in Sidwell. She bakes famous Pink Apple pies. Makes delicious lavender honey butter. Has an exotic and mysterious past. And Twig loves her with everything she's got. But not all is well in Twig's world. Friends aren't allowed. Because a friend might discover the secret kept so carefully by Twig and her mother. There is a centuries-old curse on their family. So Twig is a lonely girl... Full review...

Roman Fort by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Fly on the Wall is a new series of history books by award-winning duo Manning and Granström, which aim to bring history to life for young readers. Roman Fort follows the adventures of Centurion Vespian as he escorts the lady Lepidina and her son to the safety of the Roman fort to celebrate her best friend's birthday. Along the way, the story touches on various aspects of Roman life, including clothing, family life, buildings and religion. Full review...

The Deadly Seven by Garth Jennings

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Most of us do our best to live our lives as polite, sensible, clean human beings. After all, society would soon fall apart if we grabbed whatever we wanted, always said the first thing that came into our heads, and punched anyone who annoyed us. But admit it - deep down, there are moments when you'd just love to bop some irritating twit on the nose, shred your report card and use it as hamster litter, eat a whole box of chocolates in one go, then burp every single verse of The Twelve Days of Christmas, right? Seriously - never? Hmm . . . not sure you're being entirely honest there, pal. Full review...

Hamish and the Worldstoppers by Danny Wallace

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Something strange is happening to Hamish, or happening around him, or actually, if we're being specific, things are not happening! He is finding that suddenly, in the middle of a perfectly normal day, everything stops except him. So the people around him are frozen, the birds are stuck mid wing-flap, planes hang un-moving in the sky, and Hamish is the only one who can still move around! What is causing these strange pauses, and is there anything Hamish can do about it? Full review...

Robot Girl by Malorie Blackman

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Claire is excited and she's nagging her mother to tell her what her father has been doing in his laboratory, but her mother is no wiser than she is and tells Claire that she will simply have to wait until her father is ready to show her what he's been doing. He's a famous inventor and Claire knows that whatever it is will be exciting. For now all she can do is to tell her pen friend - and be patient. Full review...

Wild Thing Goes Camping by Emma Barnes

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

Wild Thing is truly wild, keeping worms in her grandma's handbag, building dens in muddy holes in the garden, or setting up camps, complete with sticks ready for a fire, in her big sister's bedroom! She's the sort of child who sends her parents grey in their twenties! Poor Kate, her older sister, is stuck being the sensible one in the family, trying to keep an eye on Wild Thing and help her dad out (her mum died when Wild Thing was very little), and the strain of always being sensible and reliable begins to show and Kate starts to think maybe she'd like to be wild too! Full review...

The Butterfly Club by Jacqueline Wilson

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Tina is a triplet but you'd never know it. Sisters Maddie and Phil are much bigger, much livelier and much louder than sickly little Tina, who had a heart problem when she was born and spent months in an incubator. She's never caught them up. Her health is still delicate too, so Tina doesn't play rough games and is forbidden from most sport at school. At this rate, she'll never catch up with Phil and Maddie. But Tina doesn't mind too much. She's protected at school by her sisters and coddled at home by her mother. Life, despite its smallness, is pretty sweet for Tina... Full review...

Creepy Caves (Elf Girl and Raven Boy) by Marcus Sedgwick and Pete Williamson (illustrator)

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

We've come a long way together, Elf Girl, Raven Boy and I. I wasn't there quite at the start of their adventures, but jumped on at a suitably early stage, and met up with them a bit here and there since. It was obvious from the start, when all six alliterative titles were announced, that the final battle would be the pair – and his rat called Rat – battling the Goblin King. But there was little clue to just how frolicsome the action would be, nor what ungainly band of friends (and enemies) would combine with them for this, the final episode. Full review...

Blackout (Urban Outlaws) by Peter Jay Black

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Fans of thrillers will be the first to admit that character development is not always the first priority in their favourite books. In fact, in some series heroes change less than The Simpsons, even after dozens of adventures. So, finding a story which has heart-pounding drama, well-drawn characters and even – believe it or not – a few scenes which would melt the hardest heart makes this excellent series a must-read. Full review...

Rugby Academy: Surface to Air by Tom Palmer

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

We first met Rory in Combat Zone when circumstances forced him to go to Broadlands Boarding School when both his parents were posted abroad by the RAF. It wasn't his choice - I mean they played rugby rather than his beloved football - but it wasn't long before he discovered that not only did he enjoy rugby, he was rather good at it. It was also something of a relief to be at a school where there were other boys in a similar situation to himself. By the time that we meet Rory again time has moved on and he's on his way to Toulon to play in an international schools rugby tournament. Full review...

My Mate's as 'Ard as Nails: (My Obdurate Companion) by Irfan Virk

4star.jpg Confident Readers

It was one of those days when you feel that something's going to happen: something bad, something you know you won't be able to avoid. Freddy felt it as soon as he woke up...

And yet, Freddy's first day at secondary school begins pretty well. Bertie attracts attention but most of it is good. And then things begin to go downhill. Bertie does stick out like a sore thumb. It's difficult to ignore him. And Freddy's quick wit and sharp tongue might get him out of immediate trouble but they do mark him out as a threat to the bullies. It was always going to happen. And before you can say snap, Bertie has been abducted. It's up to Freddy and friends to get him back. Meanwhile, outside the school gates, some bad men are doing bad things in the realms of hostage-takings and bank jobs. Full review...

A Home for Shimmer by Cathy Hopkins

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Great cover-art is often a compelling factor in making a purchase decision, so who could resist the lure of a fluffy white retriever pup, with a shiny black nose and smiling eyes, beckoning readers to pick up the book and read her story? 'A Home for Shimmer' is the story of a bond between a girl and her pup and the many obstacles that they must face to stay together. Full review...

The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Bash Street Bandit (Book 4) by Steven Butler and Steve May (illustrator)

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Something is wrong in Beanotown. You'd normally think that the only thing wrong about the place is Dennis the Menace – his dastardly deeds and novel naughtiness. But no – this time it's worse. Someone is being a menace to everyone and it isn't even Dennis. The Colonel's garden gnomes are all bottom-up, and even the park plants spell out Bum-Face. And our hero has no idea who is out-menacing him. It's up to him and his naughty Gnasher to try and work out what is causing everyone – Softie or not – to be so worried. Full review...

Stonebird by Mike Revell

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

People keep telling Liam he's the man of the house since his dad walked out on the family and went to live with his girlfriend in Australia, even though that's quite a burden to put on the shoulders of a ten-year-old. He tries his hardest to live up to everyone's expectations, but it's not easy: the family has to move house and school to be nearer Gran, who's suffering from dementia; his mum is falling apart because she simply can't cope with the pain of losing her remaining parent in this way, and his older sister is more interested in her new boyfriend than anything Liam's going through. And that's before the usual new kid in school bullying begins. Full review...

Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco by Ruth Fitzgerald

5star.jpg Confident Readers

When it comes to books for the younger age range, I tend to be more interested in the adventure stories, the fantasies, and the mysteries than the more realistic contemporary books. Occasionally, though, something in that genre comes along which completely captivates me - and Ruth Fitzgerald's debut is one of those books. I picked it up to take a quick look after it was recommended to me as being a perfect 'mood-buster', and within 5 pages I was enchanted. (I was also attracting some strange looks on the Tube, having burst out laughing loudly three times by the end of the fifth page - there are definite queries as to how suitable this is as a public transport read!) Full review...

Arsenic For Tea (A Wells and Wong Mystery) by Robin Stevens

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Some detectives have a dark and sorrowful past. Others are gifted – or burdened – with extraordinary skills, and a few are so intellectual they can barely relate to the people around them. But Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, heroines of this delightful detective series, are just ordinary schoolgirls who enjoy solving puzzles and mysteries and who somehow end up right at the centre of the occasional deadly drama. Full review...

Secrets and Dreams by Jean Ure

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

When Mum and Dad won the lottery thirteen year old Zoe and eleven year old Natalie were given the chance to choose something big which they really wanted. Natalie chose to have a pony (and there was a puppy too, but no one was counting) and Zoe decided that she really wanted to go to boarding school. Dad - particularly - wasn't keen on the idea, in case Zoe would have to mix with posh people, but eventually he came round and Zoe started at St Withburga's - and just chance you're thinking of jokes about cheeseburgas, Nat got there before you. Full review...

Catherine Certitude by Patrick Modiano, Sempe (illustrator) and William Rodarmor (translator)

4star.jpg Confident Readers

What little I know of Patrick Modiano was gained from the number of 'no, we've never heard of him, either' articles and summaries that came our way when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature at the end of 2014. They suggested his oeuvre was mature, slightly thriller-based but not exclusively so, and asked lots of accumulative questions regarding identity with regard to the Vichy government during WWII. Identity is a lot more fixed in this musing little piece, for the adult voice-over looks back over a wide remove, and says there will always be a little bit of her living the events and situations of the book. Those situations are of a young dance-school attendee, and her loving and much-loved father, living a cosy life in Paris – even if the girl never once really works out what it is her father does for a living… Full review...

Bloodstone: Legend of Ironheart by Allan Boroughs

5star.jpg Confident Readers

After a year travelling the globe as apprentice to Verity Brown, India Bentley falls into trouble when she's accused of trying to assassinate a priest. She's rescued by Professor Moon, who needs her and Verity to help him find the mysterious Bloodstone. As the trio, plus a few companions, journey to Atlantis, India is plunged into an adventure even more dangerous and exciting than her first one was. Full review...

Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Evilness of Pizza by John Dougherty and David Tazzyman (illustrator)

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

There are a few important things to know about the Island Kingdom of Great Kerfuffle. One is that it is pestered by a criminal gang of badgers, who find it impossible to just sit around in prison, but always have to escape and cause danger and nastiness to other people, even if they are on the whole incredibly stupid. You also need to know, however, that brother and sister Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face are great at solving the problems the badgers cause, and getting through the adventures in a very self-knowing way, even discussing the lengths of the chapters and the style of story as they go about their business. Here the problem is revealed quite late on, so in an effort not to spoil the plot I'll just point out that in a book this stupidly, deliriously daft you hardly need bother about the plot in the first place, and can just relax and have the sheer joy of entertainment for an hour or so. Full review...

The New Enemy: Liam Scott Book 3 by Andy McNab

4star.jpg Teens

Liam Scott has joined Recce Platoon. The recruitment process was more gruelling than Liam had even imagined. But if you're going to be an in-theatre intelligence gatherer for the British Army, then you need to be ready for anything. And despite his training, Liam is new to this game. He still has a lot to learn and he's going to have to do it the hard way - in Kenya, where the border with Somalia is subject to incursions from the al-Shabaab militant group. Full review...

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

5star.jpg Teens

Shelby is seventeen. She dreams of going to college but her mother would never allow it. Shaylene is more than over-protective. She homeschools Shelby and rarely lets her daughter out on her own. She is obsessed with the danger that men present. Shelby loves her mother but can't help the odd twinge of resentment at the level of control she exerts and more than the odd twinge of embarrassment when she looks at they overweight, unfit, pyjama jeans-wearing Shaylene.

And then Shelby is knocked down by a car. And everything unravels. Shaylene turns up at the hospital with bags packed. She's running from something, but what is it? And why can't she see the coyote that is watching Shelby, talking to her, warning her of lies and asking her to save a Child from a Crone? Full review...

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

When the seven schoolgirls at St Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies in Victorian Ely see their headmistress and her brother drop dead at dinner, they're more concerned about their future than the loss of the two adults. Knowing that if anyone discovers what's happened they'll be sent home to families who don't want them, they launch a daring plan to cover up the sad news, and run the school themselves. When the deaths turn out to be caused by poison, though, they're left not just trying to run a school and convince an alarming number of visitors that nothing's wrong - but also to solve the murders before there's another killing. Full review...

The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Tyke Tiler. I first did so a very long time ago – I might even have my copy of the original paperback, with its ending-spoiling cover artwork, as one of the few books I carried over from those days. Tyke is a schoolchild in the last year before big school, and is permanently in trouble, partly due to hanging round with Danny Price. It seems wherever Danny unfortunately leads, Tyke follows – whether it's digging sheep bones out the town weir system, or handling stolen goods when Danny nicks a high-value note from one of the teacher's purses. How is the term going to end, when everything Danny does seems to reflect badly on Tyke? Full review...

Imagination According to Humphrey by Betty G Birney

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

If you haven't already, meet Humphrey – the most squeakily vocal inhabitant of Classroom 26. The charming and inventive hamster is here with yet another of his main novels – as opposed to early readers, quiz and joke books, anthologies, guides to having pets – there are so many around that my edition didn't try to put them all on one inventory page, but chose to leave a few out. Here the series continues with Humphrey and the same children as he's befriended over the last few volumes, and it's storytime. The class is being read a novel about a boy and the dragons doing evil to his village's weather, and everyone is trying to write creatively about flying as a response. But when someone threatens to bring a real-life dragon to class, how could the little class pet be safe, especially when he hasn't the imagination to see what the result could be? Full review...