Sunday, 22 January 2017

KATE: COPING WHEN SOMEONE IS IN HOSPITAL

Reader Kate has some top tips on how to stay grounded and calm when someone close to you goes into hospital...

Kate says:
When a close family member - or a friends, perhaps - goes into hospital, for whatever reason, stress levels can rise to frightening levels. Sometimes even the word 'hospital' can bring you to tears, but there are ways you can deal with the pressure and the anxiety that comes with it.

It's normal to panic
Panic attacks in a stressful situation like this are not unusual, so try not to get too scared if they happen. Tell a trusted adult and get some support, because panic may be normal but it isn't good. I found that even just telling a friend and being reassured that it was normal to panic in such situations (especially if you're a hormonal wreck like me!) helped a lot. Bottling up the fears just allows them to grow. If you feel anxiety and panic beginning to take over, tell an adult.

Spend time away from the situation
For me, spending time with my friends doing something I love offered a safe and stress free retreat from a life that seemed to revolve around constant hospital visits. Just stepping away from the pressures of hospital life was a huge relief and I found I could still relax and have fun, if only for a little while. It actually helped to be able to put on a 'mask' for a bit and pretend life was perfect for a few hours without the constant reminders of reality.

Look after yourself
When you're worried about a loved one, looking after yourself is the last thing on your mind, but it matters. If you fall sick you cannot be there to support anyone, after all. Plan healthy meals rather than relying on takeaways and fast food, and offer to cook once or twice a week if you can... it's practical help that will keep everyone on an even keel. Take exercise too - this will help you to disperse feelings of stress and anxiety and stay healthy and strong.

Just be there
Sometimes it feels upsetting to be unable to help the person who is ill, but remember they are in the best place and getting the care they need. What you can do is bring a bit of the outside world in for your loved one, with chat and silly, thoughtful like gifts. It may not feel much, but it will mean the world to the patient.

Remember this won't be forever
Although staying strong when someone you care about is in hospital is very hard, try to remember that this difficult patch will not last forever. Life will go on, and though you may be a little older and wiser, and sometimes sadder, you will cope. We all have to handle ups and downs in this life, and we all come up against heartbreak at times - but there are plenty of happy endings, too. Keep smiling if you can.

Cathy says:
Kate's blog has really hit home for me... 2016 was a year of caring for people I loved and feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all. I could have done with this list! Have YOU ever worried about someone in hospital? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

MARTI: WHY I LOVE SIXTIES FASHION!

Reader Marti explains why she likes the fashion of the sixties so much... and why that era changed things for everyone and turned the fashion world upside-down!


Marti says:
What I love most about the 1960s is how different this period is to any other that had gone before. Skirts were shortened, colours intensified and fashion boundaries were broken. The teenager was born and young women no longer had to dress like younger versions of their mothers. Fashion broke so many rules and came up with so many innovations in the sixties - the now so-popular bikini came into fashion in 1963 and the miniskirt, symbolic of the decade, is still a timeless fashion piece today.

There was so much diversity in what people wore, too! Fashion mirrored the social movements of the time - the early sixties were relatively conservative with styles reminiscent of the late fifties, such as classic prints and knee-length dresses, whereas by the late sixties things had changed beyond all recognition.

It's no surprise that the sixties was a decade of great change in other ways, too - this was the decade when man first walked on the moon, when women gained more equality and when British pop sensations such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones took the world by storm.

Fashion was not about to be left behind. Skirt lengths became ever shorter and men wore tunics and capes and began to grow their hair longer! Many of these styles seemed to come from the streets - suddenly fashion was for everyone, and not just the rich elite who could afford designer clothes. Young designers such as Mary Quant opened shops selling the things young people wanted to wear - youth was leading the way in fashion for the first time ever. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't long before London stole Paris' position as the centre of the fashion world!

I think my favourite era of the decade is probably the mid point, around 1964-1966. Fashion was at the point where people were choosing how they wanted to dress, and prints were bright but not yet overly busy. Culottes, box-shaped PVC dresses and even paper clothes were popular. This rebellious and energetic vibe is one that inspires me and one I try to carry over into my own fashion choices - only with my own flair, of course! (Wait... aren't flares 1970s?!!! Haha!)


Cathy says:
I remember sixties fashions well - although I was only a small child, there was a real buzz in the air and I vividly remember my aunties in mini dresses, PVC boots and towering beehive hairdos! Do YOU take your fashion inspirations from a particular decade? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Friday, 20 January 2017

THE CC CHARACTER WHO IS JUST LIKE ME...

Two readers talk about their favourite Cathy Cassidy character and tell us just why they connect so strongly with them...

Cassia says:
Where do I start? DIZZY is the most relatable book I have ever read. I feel like I have been through many of the same feelings Dizzy experiences... she os a quiet girl but she dreams big, just like me (and probably lots of other girls too!). I travel to a lot of music festivals too because my dad is a sound manager and sometimes I get to help out and work with him. I have met so many amazing people at festivals, people just like Dizzy. Plus... Cathy has got the festival atmosphere exactly right! I also love the book GINGERSNAPS because it has my name in it (as Ginger's sister!) and it is rare to find my name in a book, as it's an unusual one!

Lula says:
I love the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series but especially SUMMER'S DREAM. Firstly, I am a lot like Summer Tanberry. I am ballet mad, I always wear my hair in a bun, I love pink, I dream of performing at the Royal Opera House... and I even have a friend called Tia, like in the story! I couldn't believe it when I spotted that. What are the chances? Next, and this is very spooky, I have actual friends called Summer and Skye! I also love drama and singing very much. I only have one problem with dance - it's hard on my ankles, which often end up injured. Not so good! I like Summer because she is a very determined girl who loves dance and follows her dream in spite of the challenges she faces.

Cathy says:
I love this post - and I agree that the similarities are quite cool for both Cassia and Lula (Summer would LOVE that daisy hairband!). Are YOU just like your favourite CC character? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

SYRA: I HAVE NO FRIENDS!

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER, and this week Cherry Costello does her best to help reader Syra who is struggling to settle into a new school...

Syra says:
I am like Anya from ANGEL CAKE - I don't fit in. I am Indian, but we've moved to the USA because of my dad's work and I am finding it so hard to settle. I have good English, so that is not the problem, but I am so unhappy because I have no friends (at least Anya had Frankie and Kurt!). I do alas have many mean 'Lily Caldwell' type characters in my life and one lovely 'Dan' character for sure as well. I just need a friend... please help!

Cherry says:
Moving schools - and countries - is probably one of the toughest and most stressful things you can go through. You may have excellent English, but you'll take a while to really work out how an American school works. Right now, talk to your class teacher or a school counsellor and explain how lost and unhappy you are feeling - they can offer extra support and help while you find your feet. In general, try to be as open and friendly as you can - join after school clubs and groups, try out for sports teams, get involved; this way you'll meet a wider circle of students than just those in your class. All schools have their bully/ mean-girl characters - I struggled with one of these for years - but ignoring the nasty comments is the best tactic if you can. As for the boy you like... well, don't give up hope - he may be the friend you're looking for! My first real friend when I moved from Glasgow to Somerset was a boy called Shay, but that's another story, and it brought it's fair share of trouble so we won't go there! Anyway... if you can, relax and take each day as it comes. Smile at everyone, try hard at your work and slowly, things will begin to slot into place. Friendships take time to build, but they are worth the effort, and worth some patience too. If these tactics don't help, speak to your family and get some adult help to sort this out - you need to settle and find a friendship base, and if that means you need a little help along the way, that's fine. Good luck.

Cathy says:
Good advice from Cherry, but what would YOU add to this? COMMENT BELOW to help Syra settle down into her new school and her new life!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

REVIEWS FOR LOOKING GLASS GIRL!

Have YOU read Cathy's thriller LOOKING GLASS GIRL yet? Here are some reviews which might make you wonder what you're waiting for!

Cecelia says:
LOOKING GLASS GIRL is probably the most intricately plotted book by Cathy Cassidy and the one I would recommend above all the others (and I love CC books!). Let's start with the cover. I got the book in hardback, and it is my favourite - that beautiful, Alice-in-Wonderland vintagey style is so pretty and intriguing. It was what made me pick the book out to begin with!The actual book is so well written and is jam packed with Alice imagery... the story is clearly inspired by the classic Lewis Carroll tale. LOOKING GLASS GIRL is a book all girls can relate to... boys, school, friendship and drama. In the story, Alice, Yaz and Elaine have been BFFs since they were tiny, but when Alice is picked for a drama role jealousy breaks things apart. By Year Eight, Alice is all alone and Yaz and Elaine are friends/minions of popular girl Savvy. When Savvy invites Alice to a Wonderland-themed sleepover, things change overnight in a very dramatic way. What will happen to Alice? Can she be best friends with Yaz and Elaine again? Read LOOKING GLASS GIRL to find out!

Romina says:
LOOKING GLASS GIRL was one of those page-turning books - I couldn't stop reading it, and in the end it took me just four days to finish. Alice's story was so relatable it was easy to connect with her, and I liked how you don't find out just how she came to fall until towards the end. I liked the different viewpoints and how Alice's life started out one way and turned out differently, which shows that life can always change for the better, and I liked the ending which was really cute and sad. I would definitely recommend this to my friends!

Rebecca says:
LOOKING GLASS GIRL is a unique spin on the classic ALICE IN WONDERLAND story. It is a more realistic, modern version and looks at real life problems such as bullying. It was an amazing read and I loved it - the way it is set out and planned intrigued me and made me want to read more and more. I was definitely hooked, and the ending was NOT what I had expected! Overall, I think LOOKING GLASS GIRL is an amazing book and is suitable for ages ten and over. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, whether they have read Cathy Cassidy books before or not!

Top artwork by reader Cecelia - how cool? Love the sketch of Alice!

Cathy says:
Aww, thank you Cecelia, Romina and Rebecca... great reviews! If you like your reads to have a page-turning thriller style with a twist in the tail, give LOOKING GLASS GIRL a try! Have YOU read it yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say! 

Monday, 16 January 2017

MOVIE MONDAYS: MOANA

Reader Rhia checks out the new Disney movie Moana... and tells you whether it should be on your to-watch list!



Rhia says:
I am a longtime fan of Disney films so I have been looking forward to this film for ages. It did not disappoint. It's a PG film, as there are some scary scenes, but overall it is a perfect family film and I know I'd have loved it when I was younger. OK, I admit it, I loved it NOW! Moana is a brave and adventurous teenager, the daughter of a chief of Oceania, who sails away on a daring mission to fulfil a quest and give balance back to her people. She meets the demi-god Maui who becomes her guide and helps her on her voyage. This is an action packed film with lots of drama, as Moana encounters monsters and sprites before fulfilling the quest of her ancestors. She also finds herself along the way.

Moana is a brilliant adventure and the CG animation is amazing. Visually it is my favourite Disney film and I love that Moana is a very modern kind of 'princess' and a great role model for girls - she does not need a prince to rescue her but takes things into her own hands. In fact, there is no prince at all and no romance, and that's fine because it just isn't needed in this enthralling story. See it as soon as you can!

Cathy says:
Ooh... that sounds wonderful! A must-see. Have YOU watched a fab new film recently? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

HOROSCOPES: YOUR YEAR AHEAD!

Skye Tanberry takes a look at what 2017 has in store for each star sign... will your long-term for the coming year predictions ring true?

Capricorn: 23 Dec - 20 Jan
Expect the unexpected - but in a good way! Work is going well and 2017 has the potential to be a transformative year for you. Life may not be plain sailing, but by the time the year closes you will have gained the strength and determination to conquer anything you put your mind to.

Aquarius: 21 Jan - 19 Feb
Adventure is on the cards for 2017, so if you're traveling or just exploring new ideas or skills closer to home, things are looking good. You are still battling old habits and ways of handling things that aren't always good for you, but this could be the year you break the pattern and ditch those old, unhelpful traits for good. Focus on your goals... you can get there!

Pisces: 20 Feb - 20 Mar
The good news is that you won't be quite as skint as usual in 2017, and school/ work progress is looking good too! It's not an easy year, however, and you may find it hard to may key decisions at times because it won't always be clear what's going on behind the scenes. April brings new clarity as you move forward towards your dreams, leaving an older phase of your life behind.

Aries: 21 Mar - 20 Apr
Friendship, romance and school connections are all looking bright this year, which helps to balance things as there may be one or two upheavals on the cards too. Family matters are well starred too, with past strains forgotten and new close links being forged. Beware of acting hastily in March, when a thoughtless action may backfire and lead to heartache.

Taurus: 21 Apr - 20 May
By summer, you will be on top form - looking good, feeling great and making real progress towards achieving one particular dream. By autumn, you will be able to see the path ahead much more clearly and new opportunities will come your way. An unexpected problem may threaten to derail things in the spring - don't ignore it, ask for help and you'll soon be back on track.

Gemini: 21 May - 20 Jun
This year, you'll get a lot of pleasure from the achievements of others - you always care deeply about those around you, and it's a relief to see them thriving. 2017 is not the easy year you have been craving, but you will move slowly forward towards your goals - and by the end of the year things will shift dramatically, making life a whole lot easier all round.

Cancer: 21 Jun - 22 Jul
Health, family and romance are all looking brilliant this year, and summer should see a real burst of energy and creativity which, if harnessed well, may change things in a big way for you. You're learning to see past the obvious and look at things in new ways, which is good news for imagination, innovation and breakthrough ideas.

Leo: 23 Jul - 22 Aug
There's a sense that fate is leading you this year - and big changes are scheduled for late summer, when domestic life turns upside-down, but in a good way! Any plans or projects started now are destined to work out well, and your communication skills will pave the way for new beginnings work or school wise, so be open to subjects and paths you may not have fully considered before.

Virgo: 23-Aug - 22 Sept
A romantic year ahead... which should make a welcome change from 2016! September is a great time for fresh starts, too. While things look rosy for you, someone in the family may be having a tougher time, and this will impact on your relationship with them. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand how they're feeling.

Libra: 23 Sept - 23 Oct
This year is looking upbeat and positive, at least up until mid-October. Travel, adventure and social connections are all stacked in your favour, though romance may not be running quite as smoothly. Money may be in short supply, but fun definitely isn't, so make the most of this and strengthen friendships and family links. Any glitches can soon be ironed out by talking honestly about the issues.

Scorpio: 24 Oct - 22 Nov
You will start the year with hard work and solid slog to keep school work, friendships and family issues all ticking over, but by October everything changes and a time of plenty will unfold when all that hard work begins to pay off. This period of luck in love, work, money and friendships looks set to stay strong for at least a year, so enjoy!

Sagittarius: 23 Nov - 22 Dec
You've been feeling a bit hard done by, working hard while others laze about and enjoy the benefits but this is about to change. Summer will be full of adventure and fun and family matters will feel better than they have in a while. There are still some testing times to be endured along the way, but rewards are waiting too - keep going, it will all be worth it in the end!

Cathy says:
Hmmm... my long-term forecast isn't bad, but not quite as perfect as I'd have liked... story of my life! What are YOU looking forward to in 2017? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!