Newest Confident Readers Reviews

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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

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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...

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Timmy Failure is the CEO of Total Failure, the best detective agency in town. This book is nothing short of a historical record of his life as an investigator, helped (or perhaps hindered) by his polar bear partner Total and grade-obsessed friend Rollo, and always wary of his rival Corrina Corrina. Can Timmy come out ahead of his evil nemesis? Full review...

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Percy Jackson always thought he was a normal, if rather naughty, kid. Then he vaporised his maths teacher and ended up in Camp Half-Blood, a special place for children of the Greek Gods. With Zeus, king of the Gods, convinced Percy has stolen his magical lightning bolt, war could be about to break out - can Percy find the lightning thief and save the day? Full review...

Horrid Henry's Tricky Tricks by Francesca Simon

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Horrid Henry is up to his usual antics in this latest compilation of trickiest tricks ever. The book features ten stories, which include some outrageous pranks, like Henry trying to wake the dead, win a pet talent contest and spend a hair-raising weekend with his awful cousin, Stuck-up Steve. But none of this compares to his scariest challenge ever; braving a girls' sleepover at his neighbour, Moody Margaret's house. Full review...

Peacock Pie: A Book of Rhymes by Walter de la Mare

3star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

It was a surprise for me to read online that Walter de la Mare spent so much of his life in and around London – born at least in what is now the borough of Greenwich, passing away in Twickenham. The reason I say this is that out of the copious poems collected here, it's as if cities don't exist. Hardly anything of the subjects is manmade. The concentration is fully on the idyllic and pastoral, and in following on so closely in the footsteps of his debut collection, 'Songs of Childhood' from 1902, still very, very much Victorian. Full review...

Moone Boy: the Blunder Years by Chris O'Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy

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Poor Martin Moone, surrounded by his sisters who drive him crazy, he decides to get himself an imaginary friend. He enlists the help of his friend who already has an imaginary friend, and thus begins a wild adventure because what happens when the imaginary friend you imagine isn't any good at being your imaginary friend, and who you'd really like to be your imaginary friend is the customer services representative who comes to try and help you out?! Full review...

Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle

3.5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Think of fallen angels, and Lucifer and the like come to mind. But they don't have to have fallen with such speed, for such a distance or with such effect. This book concerns one such creature, and while it's not named as an angel as such, and it's identified only by nobody knowing from where it comes yet everyone silently gets to appreciate its presence, it certainly looks like a Western, Christian, angel form. And so the plot of this gentle, poetic picture book looks at the chance of such a bad thing as the fall of an angel being followed by anything more positive. Full review...

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

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Andy and Terry live in a tree house so fantastic it caters for every whim – as long as you're a primary school-aged boy, that is. There's swimming on one level, bowling on another, as much marshmallow as you could eat and all the gadgets and gizmos their brilliant imaginations could come up with. But this idyllic life also comes with responsibilities – one moment you're painting a cat yellow to see if it becomes a canary and flies away (no spoiler – it does), the next you get reminded of an overdue deadline to write a book. What on earth could possibly happen to inspire such a book overnight? Full review...

Desirable by Frank Cottrell Boyce

4.5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Poor George. He knows that he is not popular but when even his own Grandad doesn't want to stay around for his birthday party he realises that things are even worse than he thought. However this was before he discovered the contents of the present from his Grandad and experienced the dramatic impact on his life an aged bottle of aftershave would bring. Although George tries to think himself invisible in order to cope today he is not invisible. In fact he is not only visible but desirable too! Full review...

The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley

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Teenage Sam and his little sister Lizzie are starving on the streets of London, which is gripped by terrible cold. Asking an old businessman for money, a man who looks at them with such sheer contempt that Sam's heart fills with hate. He swears that he will seek vengeance and rob the old man, not caring whether his victim will live or die. But before he can do so, a strange spirit appears to him, and warns him about the terrible path he will put himself on with this violent act. Can Sam resist the temptation to gain revenge? Several more spirits show him the possible consequences of his action, as we see Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol from a new viewpoint. Full review...

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas and Peter Bailey

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Christmas time growing up in a Welsh seaside town was magical for Dylan Thomas, always snowy and full of adventure. From attempting to extinguish house fires with snowballs to hippo footprints in the snow his childhood in the snow was a time of wonder and pure joy. Full review...

Atticus Claw Learns to Draw by Jennifer Gray

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Who knew how much trouble a rainy day could bring? When nothing else inspires them, children Michael and Callie and police cat sergeant Atticus all enter a draw-some-pickles competition, for the chance to win a trip to, er, the pickle factory. Atticus has been around a bit – he used to be the world's best cat burglar – and he seems to recognise one of the faces on the pickle jars as an old enemy, but at least the main baddies of the series – the Russian spy mistress and her cat, and the town magpies – are miles away and tucked up safely inside a giant shark. So lo and behold when Atticus's entry wins, and the whole family gets taken to the factory. And lo and behold when the factory owner seems rather suspicious, and lo and behold when a certain shark gets captured… Full review...

Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo

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It's May, 1915. World War I is underway and the Scillionians have already seen losses. Like the rest of Britain, they are beginning to realise that this war won't be over any time soon.

When Alfie and his father are out fishing one day, they hear a child's cries. On one of the archipelago's uninhabited islands, they find a half-starved little girl, abandoned and in a terrible state. She can only speak one word: Lucy. Who is this foundling? Is she a ghost? A mermaid? Or, more worryingly, could she be a German spy? The name Wilhelm is on the label of her blanket, after all. And why does she gaze at the moon with such longing in her eyes? Full review...

The Squickerwonkers by Evangeline Lilly and Johnny Fraser-Allen

4star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

Selma is a young girl who finds a strange attraction on the edge of a fair – a large gypsy caravan-styled contraption, which she enters, alone but for her shiny red balloon. She appears to be alone, until nine marionette puppets suddenly appear on the stage within, and a disembodied voice introduces them all to her. They are the Squickerwonkers, and as we are about to see, they can reveal someone's entire character with the simplest of actions… Full review...

The Matchbox Mysteries (Wings and Co 4) by Sally Gardner and David Roberts

4star.jpg Confident Readers

This was my first introduction to the Wings & Co fairy detective agency. It's certainly the sort of book I really should have come across sooner since it's wonderfully odd! With Emily working alongside of Fidget, the talking cat, as well as a lot of keys and an overly talkative, egotistic magic lamp this isn't the sort of book you read as a bedtime story and drift off half way through! In this book there is trouble in Podgy Bottom. Someone is stealing cars, shrinking them down into a matchbox, and there is also a crazy purple bunny and a troublesome broomstick. Will the detective agency be able to figure out what on earth is going on? Full review...

The Queen Alone (Chronicles of the Tempus) by K A S Quinn

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Katie is back, and once more she's back in Victorian England. This time, however, she isn't quite sure who called her back in time or for what purpose and, unfortunately, something went wrong as she came and she brought someone else along with her! In the final episode of the Chronicles of the Tempus we see Katie trying to save Prince Albert's life, trying to prevent Britain messing up the outcome of the American Civil War, and rescuing Queen Victoria from an asylum! Full review...

PathFinder (TodHunter Moon Book One) by Angie Sage

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Twelve year old Alice TodHunter Moon, who prefers to be known as Tod, is a Pathfinder, a member of a fishing tribe with a mythical history of travelling across the stars. She lives a nice life in her Pathfinder community until her father, her only surviving parent, doesn’t come back from a fishing trip and Tod is left alone with her horrid step-aunt Mitza. Full review...

The Brockenspectre by Linda Newbery

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Tommi lives up in the mountains with his parents and his baby sister. Mamma is artistic and paints beautiful designs on chairs and stools and planters for tourists to buy. Pappi is a mountain guide and Tommi's hero - brave and fearless and a lover of his wild mountain home. Tommi wants nothing more than to be like Pappi. But things aren't peaceful at home. Pappi is only truly happy by himself, out amongst the peaks. After just a day or two at home without guiding work, he becomes irritable and critical of Mammi and his children.

After an argument one day, Pappi strides out of the house and onto the mountain. And he doesn't return. Full review...

The Super Amazing Adventures of Me, Pig by Emer Stamp

5star.jpg Confident Readers


I is Pig and I has one book out already. In it I tells you in diary form about how I ends up on a spaceship that EVIL CHICKENS make out of a tractor. I cannot speak human but I knows the bookbag really likes my first book. So now I has a second. In the past I has problems with an evil farmer who wants to put me in a pie but now all I has is happiness and peace. I even has a new best friend called Kitty the Cat. But my old best friend Duck is telling me Kitty is not the best new best friend I can have. How is Duck right and how is I wrong? Full review...

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

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The upside to being forgotten by everybody the minute they lose sight of you is that it makes stealing things pretty easy. The down side is that you never have a friend, you never have someone to turn to if you are sad or sick, and maybe worst of all you never, ever, see a face light up with recognition as you approach. Of course it means you can say and do absolutely anything you like, because it will be forgotten immediately, but then, why bother? In five seconds from now, who's going to care? Full review...

Awful Auntie by David Walliams

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Stella Saxby is the sole heir to her family home, Saxby Hall, but when her awful Auntie Alberta decides she wants it for herself, what will happen to her? Find out in this excellently written, funny, yet poignant and wonderfully sinister book by the brilliant David Walliams. Full review...

The Illustrated Old Possum by T S Eliot and Nicolas Bentley

4star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

This title is clearly of importance to the house of Faber. To this day their puff mentions it was one of their first childrens' books, after the author sent his publisher's son, his godson, some writings based on jellicle cats and some of their scrapes. It's clearly a book that's important to Andrew Lloyd Webber, too, but we'll gloss speedily over that. It's a book that was important to me as well – I certainly had a copy, a thin, barely illustrated, old-fashioned style paperback of it once I had seen the musical. And with the excellent writing here and the ability of it to delight so many people of so many ages, it has the power to be important to a future generation. Full review...

Nonsense Limericks (Faber Children's Classics) by Edward Lear and Arthur Robins (illustrator)

4.5star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

There was a young man whose critique
Of this book was submitted one week
When they asked 'Was it fine?'
He said 'No denyin' –
'There's very little here they could tweak!' Full review...

Young Bond: Shoot to Kill by Steve Cole

4star.jpg Teens

Shoot to Kill may be the sixth Young Bond in the series, but it is the first to be written by Steve Cole. He has taken over the reins from the highly capable Charlie Higson. Like the adult Bond books, the character has seen many people write about him since Ian Fleming’s death, so there is no reason to think the quality would suddenly drop after a new author comes on board. In fact, Cole is able to inject a little more energy into a series that was starting to flag. Full review...