Sunday, 7 February 2016


On the Eve of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey, reader Suzanne looks at how Chinese New Year is celebrated and check out what the various Chinese zodiac signs might mean for you! 

Suzanne says:
Chinese New Year begins on 8th February, and is celebrated not just in China but in communities all around the world.
- On Sunday, New Year's Eve, clean the house to sweep away any bad luck remaining from the year gone by. It's fresh start time!
- Decorate the home with red paper lanterns!
- Have a family meal to see out the old year and welcome the new one, and to celebrate togetherness with family and friends.
- Eat fish for good luck, celery for wisdom, noodles for long life, plums for wisdom and sweets for a sweet year ahead!
- Wear new clothes!
- Give red envelopes containing money, for good luck!
- Set off fireworks or firecrackers to frighten away evil spirits!
- Go to see a dragon or a lion dance to welcome the new year!

What Chinese Zodiac sign are you? Check out your year of birth to see!

RAT: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
Intelligent, adaptable, fast-witted, artistic, outgoing and charming, you get on well with DRAGON and MONKEY people...

OX: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
SNAKE and ROOSTER signs make good friends or partners for you. You're strong, loyal, trustworthy, steady, determined and very thorough.

TIGER: 2010, 1986, 1974, 1962
You get on well with HORSE and DOG people. You are brave, ambitious, confident, charismatic and enthusiastic, often with great leadership qualities.

RABBIT: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
You get on well with GOAT and PIG types. You are reliable, diplomatic, truthful, caring, sociable and able to empathise with others.

DRAGON: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
RAT and MONKEY make good partners for you. You are imaginative, eccentric, artistic, adaptable, charming, spiritual and lucky!

SNAKE: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
You get on well with ROOSTER and OX! You are well organized. clever, elegant, decisive, thoughtful, philosophical and intuitive.

HORSE: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
You get on well with HORSE and TIGER! You are loyal, brave, ambitious, smart, strong, adaptable and adventure-loving.

GOAT: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
PIG and RABBIT are great friends and partners for you. You are warm, charming, elegant, calm, tasteful, sensitive and have great intuition!

MONKEY: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
DRAGON and RAT make good friends and partners. You are witty, charming, lucky, versatile, bright, lively, clever and fun-loving.

ROOSTER: 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
SNAKE and OX make great friends for you. You are honest, clever, confident, flamboyant, filled with energy and diverse and adaptable.

DOG: 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
TIGER and HORSE are your kindred spirits. You are brave, loyal, hard working, reliable, adaptable, intelligent and full of fun!

PIG: 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971
You partner well with GOAT and RABBIT. You are kind, thoughtful, honourable, determined, sincere, outgoing and always optimistic.

Kung Hei Fat Choy... Happy Chinese New Year!

Cathy says:
Oooh... fascinating stuff, Suzanne! I'm a TIGER... very exciting! Is YOUR Chinese zodiac sign accurate? COMMENT BELOW to tell us!

Saturday, 6 February 2016


Cathy says:
Today, Saturday 6th February, is National Libraries Day and I will be in Exeter talking to some fab readers! Then, on Tuesday 9th I will be at Westminster to join in with the Speak Up For Libraries lobby of parliament. Seems like the perfect chance to share some library love from my awesome readers...

Emily says:
Libraries mean that no matter what your background is, you can still be equal. Anyone can read great literature for free. I spent most of my primary years completing reading challenges and finding new books and authors... the staff are always so helpful and polite and have a real passion for books. The library is where I found my first CC book, Scarlett!

Beth says:
Libraries are my safe haven - you can let your imagination run wild and learn loads. You can take ages choosing your books and once you've read them you can't wait to return them and get some more! Libraries mean a lot to me as I love reading, and me and my best friend Katie go to the library a lot.

Harley says:
Libraries have been an escape for me... from bullies, from bad weather, the cold, the heat, a bad day. Now they are where I spend my spare time, checking out stacks of books. Both books and the internet are valuable resources and its great to have somewhere to use both at the same time!

Sophie says:
Libraries are amazing - you can get just about any book and borrow its story. I would definitely not have been able to read all the books I have without the library - I could afford it for a start. Libraries have introduced me to some of my favourite books and characters who are like friends to me when I've been feeling alone. Libraries are a safe place to go to, to get out, and that can be difficult for me sometimes but libraries have helped me to gain some confidence back. The librarian knows me now and knows the books I like - she orders new ones for me. I'd be lost without the library. Oh... and there's a hot chocolate machine!

Lynsey says:
Libraries mean everything. They're a refuge, an escape, a gateway to other worlds. Libraries are the heart of a community, the soul of a society. A library empowers the individual and opens minds...  knowledge is power, and a library is the seat of knowledge.

Kym says:
I spent a lot of time in libraries when I was younger as we didn't have much money - my pocket money only allowed me to buy one book a month and I went through them like water. Libraries are brilliant!

Ella says:
Libraries are my happy place. I love the silence and calm... you can forget about real life and escape to a fictional place (I especially like escaping to Tanglewood!).

Ashlee says:
Libraries? A wealth of knowledge; an escape from a cruel world; a doorway to a thousand lands; a path to a million lives; a safe place where your mind can be free.

Samantha says:
Libraries are a magical and wondrous SAFE place filled with endless possibilities. A haven where social class and street cred don't matter at all, and the lonely can feel like they're surrounded by friends.

Lorna says:
Libraries are the doors to whole new worlds, an escape, the only place where you can stay in a comfy chair and still travel to a thousand different universes!

Deborah says:
I still love libraries, but a couple of years back I used to go to the library and borrow twelve books at a time, read them all in the space of two weeks and return to get twelve more. My local library built the foundations of my dream to be an author, and without them I wouldn't be close to the person I am today. Libraries are a world where anything is possible!

Stephanie-Jade says:
Libraries are my calm place. When I feel down at college, I go and sit in the library and read. I suffer with anxiety, and it always helps to calm my nerves.

Pam says:
They're a place where anyone can escape and treat themselves to an evening snuggled up with a good book... for free. You can read any genre, any amount... the only restriction is your imagination. I hate that councils are closing libraries as they're an essential part of a community.

Gemma says:
A library is a place of calm in a world of chaos. The books, the quiet, the cosy feel of it makes you feel at home. Libraries mean a lot to me... they are a place to go to read, discover new books, and just have some quiet time. I love libraries.

Cathy says:
Who says kids don't bother with books and libraries anymore? These quotes are just the tip of the iceberg... I have enough to fill another couple of features at least. Thank you for sharing the library love! Do YOU like libraries? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 4 February 2016


Reader Aphrodite shares her recipe for yummy Greek Mosaiko... and it's super easy to make!

You will need:
2 packets plain tea biscuits, crushed (Petit Buerre are ideal)
Half cup of milk
2 tbsps orange juice
250g butter
250g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
4 tbsps cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

To make:
1. In a large bowl, crush the biscuits with the end of a rolling in, leaving 1" chunks to add texture to the cake. Pieces must not be too big, nor must they be crumbs either.

2. Mix the milk with the orange juice, vanilla extract and salt and pour over the biscuits. Mix with your hands, making sure to crush any too-big pieces of biscuit you may find.

3. Add melted butter and mix again.

4. Add icing sugar, caster sugar and cocoa powder and mix one last time.

5. Stretch clingfilm or baking paper across your counter and pour the mixture onto this. Use your hands to press mixture down. Lift the long side of the clingfilm or baking paper and roll the mixture over into a chunky cylinder, so that it forms the shape of a rolling pin perhaps. Wrap and store the pudding in the freezer for two hours and then place in the fridge.

6. Now for the best part... lick the bowl!

TADAH! Time to slice a piece and indulge. If you are feeling super indulgent you can always serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, on the side, or warm chocolate sauce or (why not?) both! And don't forget - sharing makes everything taste better!

Alternatives: This is an easy, fun recipe. You can play around and add your own trademark - add chopped walnuts or other nuts for example; or chopped glace cherries; or shredded coconut. The options are endless really, just like life! Don't forget that you can loosen the mixture with extra melted butter if it seems too dry at the mixing stage. Instead of rolling the mixture into a cylinder, you can form it into balls the size of ping pong balls, dipping your hands into water between each one so that the mixture doesn't stick to your hands. Roll in chocolate strands or shredded coconut before freezing - or dip in melted chocolate after the freezing stage. They're a kind of Greek chocolate truffle!

Sprinkle on a little history!
'Mosaiko' sounds a bit like 'mosaic', doesn't it, and that exactly what it is. If you look closely enough you'll see the bits of biscuit looks like pieces of mosaic. The word mosaic in Greek derives from the word muses, the daughters of Zeus and goddesses of inspiration, worshipped throughout Greece. They were Clio, Melpomene, Thalia, Calliope, Urania, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Erato and Terpsichore. Caves dedicated to the muses were decorated with mosaics. So much history in a bite!

Cathy says:
This looks and sounds SO gorgeous... and even a baking klutz like me can do it! Do YOU have a favourite recipe to share with DREAMCATCHER? Email me via the 'email Cathy' link on to share it and COMMENT BELOW to tell me more!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Reader Tania has made a mistake and doesn't know how to put it right - can CHERRY COSTELLO help with some good advice?

Tania says:
I've lost all my friends and the stupid thing is, it's all my fault. Last year a new girl, C, joined our friendship group. She seemed nice and I liked her, and she settled in well. After a while, I started to feel envious of how well she had settled, as if she had been there forever - she often came up with ideas of what to do and where to go, and sometimes she would see a couple of my friends without the rest of us, because they live near her. I can see now that I was jealous. At Christmas, her parents split up and my mum made a comment that C's mum was to blame as she was always flirting. A few weeks ago when C was getting lots of sympathy about the split, I repeated my mum's comment. I was quite nasty about it, to be honest. My friends just looked at me like they didn't know me. My friends have been very cold to me since then, as if they don't want me around. I don't blame them. I have been so stupid and so mean. Have I lost my friends forever?

Cherry says:
Ouch... jealousy is not called the green-eyed monster for nothing. You've clearly been feeling a little pushed out by C, but your catty comment was cruel and it's no surprise your friends have jumped to defend C. You know you're in the wrong here... time to come out and say so. Speak to C alone and make a full apology, explaining that you've felt a little insecure lately. Let her know you bitterly regret your comment. What she needed at that moment was friendship and understanding, not an attack on her mother. Will she forgive you? Perhaps, but I imagine she will find it hard to trust you in future... that's something you will have to live with. Next, talk to your other friends and let them know how sorry you are; they haven't expelled you from the friendship group, so the chances are that in time they will forgive and forget. Most of all, learn from your mistake... never say anything mean about anyone else and put yourself in their shoes to imagine how they might be feeling. Mistakes can feel like the end of the world, but if you're brave enough to say sorry and learn from them, they are not in vain.

Cathy says:
Wise words from Cherry... this is not a problem with a quick fix, alas, but it should certainly be a lesson for Tania. Would YOU add anything to Cherry's advice? COMMENT BELOW to add your thoughts!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


Skye has been looking at her astrology charts again... will her predictions for February ring true with you?

AQUARIUS: February does not start on a high for you, but by mid month you will be back on track and raring to go! Don't be deceived by a friend trying to cover something up, and follow your heart when faced with a choice just before Valentine's Day!

PISCES: You're on great form this month - friendship, school and future dreams are all shaping up well! Romance is more elusive, but you do have a secret admirer. Watch out for a small blip with money this month... annoying, but nothing you can't handle!

ARIES: February is a month of change for you... make the most of it! Trust your intuition and you won't go far wrong; and excitingly, new projects should go very well. Don't neglect your friends... they don't always speak up, but they're always there for you... make sure it works both ways!

TAURUS: Time to snap out of your comfort zone and take a risk! It could be trying something new, following a dream, making new mates or putting yourself forward for something at school, but if you push past your fears you'll find a whole new world of fun and achievement may open up!

GEMINI: Travel is on the cards this month... it may not be far, but it will be significant! An adventure that could bring new ideas on life, love and friendship is just around the corner... it will help you to achieve your potential. Beware of gossip... don't listen to it and don't spread it!

CANCER: A great month for Cancerians... romance is on the cards, just in time for Valentine's Day, and school/ career looks promising too! This is a good month to try out for something new, audition for a play or start a band/ musical project. What are you waiting for?

LEO: Try not to get too wound up about Valentine's Day - it may not be what you have hoped for, but that doesn't mean romance isn't brewing. Friendship, love and connections are all looking positive, and not just this month but the whole year ahead is looking good!

VIRGO: A friendship has reached breaking point - it can be repaired, but the question is, do you want it to be? Step away from toxic friends but work hard to strengthen the friendships you value. Only you can tell which are which... be brave and trust your instincts.

LIBRA: Worries about what might-have-been, or perhaps a crush that has come to nothing, have been dragging you back. Let go of the negativity and you'll start finding the fun in life again. Adventure and creativity are starred for you this month... don't miss out!

SCORPIO: Sometimes, you come on too strong... with friends, with work, with life! Slow down a little and take a gentler approach... you'll find you reap more rewards that way. You can't force the world to dance to your tune, but you can gently encourage it!

SAGITTARIUS: The last few months have been difficult - in some ways, you've been feeling 'stuck'. That's over now - you're ready to move forward and ideas, projects and connections are all fizzing with potential this February. Nothing can stop you now!

CAPRICORN: Although February starts with some unexpected events, this is a great month for you - luck is on your side, and pretty much everything you're looking for should be possible to achieve... within reason! The icing on the cake is that money is looking good, too!

Cathy says:
Ooh... well, travel is on the cards for me, apparently, and that's spot on because I am on tour! Are Skye's predictions looking good for YOU? COMMENT BELOW and have your say!

Monday, 1 February 2016


My lovely writer pal Kathryn Evans is about to publish her first book... and it's amazing! Read on to find out more...

Kathryn says:
Thanks so much for hosting me on DREAMCATCHER, Cathy! It's lovely to say hi to some of your readers and introduce them to the characters of my new book, MORE OF ME. Teva has a very strange life. She seems normal but at home she hides an impossible secret: eleven other Tevas. Once a year, Teva splits in two, leaving a younger version of herself stuck at the same age, forced to watch the new Teva taking over her life and even her name.She'll become Sixteen just as her former selves became Fifteen and Fourteen, right back to Six. Not surprisingly, Teva has no intention of letting that happen but while she's fighting for her future, the rest of the household are fighting boredom. I imagine they do a lot of reading so I asked them what kind of books they like...

I love reading, especially spy stuff. I read loads of Enid Blyton FAMOUS FIVE books but now my favourites are Robin Stevens WELLS AND WONG books. Hazel and Daisy do loads of investigating and solve murders and everything. I'd love to be a detective, I think I'd be really good. I am excellent at listening at doors...

I completely love HARRY POTTER - Hermione is like my favourite character. I love her so much - she's got like amazing hair and is so clever, She's actually really good at working out mysteries too. I wish I could do magic... I'd magic Fifteen to stop being so moody. I bet she won't even tell you what books she likes.

I'm not moody, and yes I will, actually. My favourite books are by Holly Black - she writes modern fairy tales.

Eleven & Eight:
Fairy tales? Bleugh!

Modern fairy tales, you idiots, with really cool people in them. They're amazing. Her characters are so real and even though they have terrible forces working against them they never give up.

Fifteen believes in fairies!

You are so dumb. I can't believe I was you once.

What about me? You didn't ask me, and I'm the main character!

Oh, sure, Teva, what kind of books do you like?

When would I have time for reading? My life is a massive mess and I've got a ton of homework to do, how am I supposed to find time for reading?

That's where we'll leave them, I think! How about you? What kind of books do you like?

Kathryn Evans writes books for young adults; her debut novel, MORE OF ME, is published by Usborne.
Find out more at

Cathy says:
I have my copy already... and I can't put it down! Check it out! And... oh yes... what ARE your favourite kind of books? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 31 January 2016


Reader Lori has devised a fab quiz to find out which season of the year is just right for you! What are you waiting for? 

1. Your alarm goes off at 7am... do you:
a/ Pull the covers over your head and snuggle down for as long as you can?
b/ Jump up, take a quick shower and go for a morning run through the park?
c/ You're already up, having a lazy breakfast in the garden!
d/ You get up grudgingly... 7am is too early!

2. What snack would you choose mid-morning?
a/ Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows!
b/ A fresh fruit smoothie for energy!
c/ An ice cream... decadent but gorgeous!
d/ A blueberry muffin!

3. What colours are your favourites?
a/ Cream and crimson...
b/ Greens, pinks and blues...
c/ Rich yellow, white and turquoise...
d/ Golden brown, burnt orange and mustard yellow...

4. What style of clothes are you most drawn to?
a/ Anything with a luxe feel and fabrics like cashmere, velvet and silk.
b/ You choose sporty, practical styles where possible.
c/ Cute little dresses, ultra-short shorts and crop tops.
d/ Romantic, boho styles with lots of layers and flowing fabrics.

5. Footwear... what would you choose?
a/ Sounds crazy, but fluffy slippers are your absolute favourite!
b/ Trainers - a nice design, sure, but they have to be practical.
c/ Strappy sandals with a bit of glitz!
d/ Suede boots with tassels and a bit of folk-art detailing.

6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
a/ To Lapland, to see the land of the midnight sun, stroke a reindeer and sleep in an ice-hotel!
b/ To Ireland or the Scottish highlands, to explore the lush green scenery and climb some mountains!
c/ To Tenerife or Barbados to do some serious sun worshipping!
d/ To Rome, Barcelona or Paris... a cool citybreak!

7. Later, you are planning to:
a/ Veg out at home with friends, watching movies and eating pizza.
b/ Go to your dance class, then meet some mates to plan tomorrow's adventures.
c/  Party - life is for living!
d/ Curl up at home, read a book and dream...

Mostly a... you are a WINTER person, happiest snuggled up in the warm sipping hot chocolate, taking a brisk walk through the crisp snow or building a snowman with friends! You're warm, loving and caring with a great sense of fun!
Mostly b... you are a SPRING person, full of energy and enthusiasm! You're always on the go and love spending time outside - you're sporty, but have a real love of nature also. Friends describe you as adventurous, brave, happy and loyal.
Mostly c... you are a SUMMER person, a real sun-worshipper who loves luxury, style and new experiences. You are outgoing, confident and always the life and soul of any friendship group... you know what you want and others respect you for it!
Mostly d... you are an AUTUMN person, gentle, romantic and a bit of a dreamer! You sometimes seem shy, but that's because you live a lot in your imagination, and friends value your kindness, creativity and quirky approach to life!

Cathy says:
Ooh, fascinating! Were you mostly a, b, c or d? Or a mixture? I was mostly AUTUMN... and it's definitely partly true! COMMENT BELOW to let me know how accurate YOUR results are!