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Monday, 23 April 2018

APRIL BOOK CLUB: NEVERMOOR

This month, reader Caitlin recommends the book Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend...


The reason I loved Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is because it is an entertaining, magical, intriguing and mysterious read! I picked this book up the other week from Asda after hearing brilliant reviews about it. I admit, the reviews just don't do it justice! I also heard it recommended for fans of Harry Potter so I had to get it because I mean, who doesn't love Harry Potter? I loved everything about this book, from Morrigan Crow being a cursed child, to the Hotel Deucalion.

The name of the author is Jessica Townsend and I'd have to say the genre is probably adventure or fantasy. The story is basically about a girl called Morrigan Crow who is cursed and destined to die on her 11th birthday. On that particular night, a remarkable man named Jupiter North whisks her away to a land called Nevermoor in the free state. Security could be hers although first she has to partake in four trials to receive a place in this wondrous society. Will she succeed? What twists and turns will lie ahead? You'll have to read it and see! I'd say that the age is probably nine-ten and upwards.

I couldn't put this book down, and parts of it had me biting my nails - which I don't normally do! I had the desperate urge to meet the characters in the book and experience just one more day of Morrigan's life. This amazing book definitely deserves five stars and I seriously recommend it... if you are looking for a new, exciting adventure, this is the book for you!

Cathy says:
It sounds captivating... thanks for the recommendation, Caitlin! Have YOU read this book? What are YOUR thoughts? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

MANDA: WAITING

Reader Manda shares her touching poem which left us with a tear in our eye! Read on...


Dressed up, like I used to
Like you’ll appear any moment
Waiting

Twinkling, they ask
Who I’m all done up for
I say -
Does there have to be a ‘who’?
Waiting

Vain, insane
And maybe all in vain
I am waiting

Gold watch ticking away
The minutes since you left
Waiting

Counting the hours til you come home
Home from far away
Waiting

Heart full of promises
Weighs heavier than your patched-up knapsack
And far less useful
Still waiting

Months and years
Smudge and blur
With the weight
Of waiting

Last rays of sun
Drain away from the horizon
Until I stop waiting.

They tell me: never.
You’re never coming home
What is there left to wait for now?

Cathy says:
Beautiful, Manda... just lovely. What did YOU think of this evocative poem? COMMENT BELOW to have your say.

Monday, 16 April 2018

KATIE: INSPIRING TEACHERS

Reader Katie shares wonderful stories of her fave teachers and how they have inspired her! 

All of my favourite teachers, the most inspirational teachers I’ve had, are Ravenclaws. Mr Hill is Head of Ravenclaw House. He is.... eccentric. He wears all black every day, and had a philosophical conversation with me about fandoms on a bus in Italy. He was my Drama and Classics teacher, and with his guidance I skipped a year of Drama and still came top! He helped me through Classics and it came to be a subject I really loved. I don’t think my school has a Classics teacher any more, which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, because both of them are gone. Mr Hill went to follow his dream of being an actor, because teaching drove him crazy, and Mrs Fitzpatrick retired.

So yes, Mrs Fitzpatrick was also a Classics teacher, but I only had her for Spanish. Mrs Fitzpatrick joined forces with the French teacher and attempted to drag me back into languages (heaven knows where I was going!) and after choosing Mrs Fitzpatrick’s Spanish class, I have never looked back. Mrs Fitzpatrick is also eccentric. She knows just the right way to get burned at the stake and not feel as much pain. She would always shriek when I shrieked and told me “You must write a blog, Katie!” She was a teacher in all forms of the word.

Mrs Knapton is a Maths teacher. Maths, I know! Shudder. Every lesson I would walk in worried that I wouldn’t understand anything and walk out late because I had been too busy discussing Harry Potter with her. Sometimes all it takes is a shared passion. I passed my exams without anybody’s help but Mrs Knapton’s and may never have to do algebra again!

I have just inadequately described three people I will never forget. They are the reason I see secondary school teaching as a viable option and I want to educate more than anything. I would say I hope they never forget me but I think my voice is still ringing in their ears from the last time I was overly exuberant in one of their classes! (Mrs Knapton is still a teacher here and just last night was discussing Cornelius Fudge’s middle name with me over text!)

Cathy says:
Teachers have such a big impact on the way students develop, it's great to hear such lovely stories!! Do YOU have any cool stories of your fave teachers? COMMENT BELOW!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

PINK: WHAT LOVE FROM LEXIE MEANS TO ME...

Reader Pink offers a very personal response to LOVE FROM LEXIE... and explains just why it means so much to her!

Pink says:
I'm seventeen and have been a huge fan of CC books since I was in primary school, and an avid reader of DREAMCATCHER for these last few years. I am also bisexual, and wanted to let you know how happy I am that you've made a character in one of your books gay. Growing up, I often tried to imagine that various CC characters might be LGBT+ and even wrote fanfic about them... it helped me, I guess. This time, I had suspicions that one character could be gay, but didn't dare think I might be right. I was - I won't tell you the character, because no spoilers, right? Let's just say that when I came to a certain point in the book I began to cry, because I knew that this time it wasn't just wishful thinking, that it wasn't just me hoping for a character like that. I cried so hard I had to put the book down for a few minutes. It seemed momentous. It sounds silly, an almost-adult crying over a young teen book, but I do not care as Cathy Cassidy books mean so much to me and finally, to see someone like me represented in a book by my favourite author... it made me happier than you can imagine!

So thank you, Cathy Cassidy, thank you so much - not just from me. Thank you for all the young LGBT+ kids who can read the book and see the love and support the characters give to the gay character. It means that those kids are not alone, they are normal, that there are other people like them, and that they too will always be loved.

I hope it's not too much to ask, but can this character not be the only LGBT+ one? Could there one day be more? THAT would be amazing! For all the gay kids out there who need reassurance that they are perfectly ordinary, that they can pick up a book with a life changing story, a story that reflects THEIR life somehow. It would mean so much to me, and to others. Thank you Cathy Cassidy for writing LOVE FROM LEXIE, an absolutely wondrous book from start to finish. I fell in love with each and every one of the characters... and I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Cathy says:
Wow... that's an incredibly moving review! THANK YOU so much Pink! I can't say too much without giving away the storyline, but the character Pink mentions has had SUCH a warm reception from my readers, and that's just plain AWESOME. Do YOU feel there should be more diversity in teen and pre-teen fiction? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

MY HERO: COCO CHANEL

Reader Stefi writes about the inspirational fashion icon Coco Chanel and how she changed the course of fashion history forever.


A girl should be two things, classy and fabulous


Fashion designer, revolutionary fashion icon and all round (YAS) queen Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel changed the course of women’s fashion forever by designing non-contriscting clothes. In a retaliation against the corset she introduced loosely fitting clothing with a low waist-line so women could move around freely. This liberated the female silhouette,helped to create the iconic 1920s flapper look and launched Chanel on a career as fashion guru and legend.

Coco Chanel was born in to abject poverty in 1883 as an illegitimate child. When Coco was just twelve, her mother died of tuberculosis, leaving her and her sisters with their father who shortly after chucked them into an orphanage and legged it to live the life of a pedlar. Growing up in a very strict Catholic children's home run by nuns seemed to harden Coco and spurred her on to take control of her life... and to rebel against all the strictness.

She developed into an eager, intellectual and dramatically beautiful young woman and found herself having love affairs with men who lived a far more privileged life than she had done. She first started her career 1906 when she met a French textile heir and racehorse owner who used his money to set herself up as a milliner. Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel showed her the life of a the upper-class, how they talked, lived and most importantly dressed! By 1916, Chanel had made such a success of her business she was able to repay the loan, and had branched out from hats into fashion design, helping to create the ground-breaking flapper look of the 1920s.

Her career spanned her whole lifetime, with Chanel acknowledged as a visionary fashion leader. Her most iconic looks are the Little Black Dress which has proved to be classy and timeless and one which generations of women have tried, tested and loved! It is said that the inspiration for this outfit came after the end of World War I when, for a vast majority of women, there was a need for mourning. Mothers, wives, sisters…most women were were directly affected by the death of a loved one. The black dress was also a celebration of simplicity in a time with so much chaos, and of course it proved to be an enduring and timeless design.

Her other well-known look is the Chanel suit - which consists of a collarless suit jacket and a slim-fitting pencil skirt, pearls and nautical shirt. This originated in the 1920s but remained an iconic design right up until the 1960s and beyond. She was also the creator of a number of perfumes, including the famous Chanel No.5. Chanel designed the clothes that took the women of the 20th century through their journey of increasing freedom, and they did it with style and class.

There are a few things about her personal life I don't admire, but in spite of this, from rags to riches, Coco Chanel was truly a force to be reckoned with. She inspires me to believe in myself and keep going when things get tough and one day hopefully design the kind of clothes that will become legendary too. Be your own woman, but do it with style!

Cathy says:
Chanel was indeed a fashion legend... and her influence remains strong even today. Do YOU have a female hero you'd like to tell us more about? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more and you might even be invited to write about it for DREAMCATCHER!

Friday, 13 April 2018

CURL UP WITH A CLASSIC: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Reader Katie from New Zealand shares her passion for the classic American novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD... read on to find out what you’re missing!


Katie says:
The English class collectively groaned as classroom copies of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD were passed around. I smiled as I pulled my own copy out. This was the perfect opportunity to finally read the little paperback which had been sitting on my shelf since not last birthday but the birthday before. I quickly passed the first chapter, which in my opinion is the only chapter that could possibly be considered dry, and began reading in earnest, only slightly aided by the competitive nature of classroom reading. 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, written by Harper Lee, has made the infamous list of “Banned Books” time and time again. Certain words in the book are outdated and considered offensive these days - we weren’t even allowed to use them in our monologues based on the characters in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - but it is the meaning behind Harper Lee’s words that drew me in, and the message is also why everyone should read it, now more than ever.

Harper Lee very cleverly disguises a hugely important message for adults in a children’s book. Scout is, to me, the loveable main character who is also a young girl who the story is told through. She quickly learns her obstinate nature will not get her anywhere, and resolves to befriend Boo Radley, a local hermit, and maybe even save some other people along the way. 


TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is, first and foremost, a book about prejudice. Racial prejudice is not helped by class or age, but racial prejudice is still rife even today. So when, and only when, everybody has read it or can understand its key messages, will the world be able to move forward. Harper Lee introduced the revolutionary concept of respecting everybody, and not taking advantage of a person’s innocence, at grassroots level. She introduced this concept to children. So maybe children will be able to understand more than adults. Scout, Jem and Dill don’t have preconceived opinions about anybody, and do not let others’ opinions impede their progress. We all need to live a little bit more like the children in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and it starts with reading the extraordinary novel by Harper Lee. 


PS. I also really enjoyed a book called I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD, which is a novel where children try to take TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD off the Banned Books list and get people reading it. It helped me understand the impact of the original book... well worth checking out!

Cathy says:
Wow, great review from Katie! I agree, its impact and importance is one that is universal and it should be a staple for everyone, not just children! Have YOU read it? Do YOU agree with Katie? What did it mean to YOU? Pop to the COMMENTS SECTION below and let us know!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

PAULA: AM I AN INTERNET ADDICT?

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER, and reader Paula has a question for HONEY TANBERRY about social media and how it seems to rule her life...

Paula says:
I think I am addicted to social media sites on the internet and it is getting me down. If I post a selfie or make any kind of post online, I panic that not enough people will 'like' it and if only a few seem to comment I take it down and feel really upset, as if nobody understands or cares about me. I feel irrationally jealous of other people's posts because they always seem to be having more fun than me. My dream is to have a super-successful Instagram account so that everyone knows me and maybe then write a book, but deep down I know that this will never happen and that even if it did, it really wouldn't be good for me. I have got to the point where I'd rather stay in with my phone than go out with my friends. Should I worry?

Honey says:
We are all addicted to social media to some extent... it's easy to feel envious of others or upset if a picture doesn't get enough 'likes' because the whole point of social media is to hook us in. And when we follow accounts of people who post about their designer clothes, their rock star boyfriends, their showbiz social life, their perfect pets and spiritual yoga sessions, it's not hard to feel a bit inferior. The thing is, social media isn't real... pictures are staged and filtered, comments carefully edited, timings all planned out. Whatever your phone implies, the rest of the world is NOT living a perfect life. When I lived in Australia briefly I was quite dependent on social media and boy did it backfire on me... it was only by stepping away from this and focusing on real life that I began to understand how toxic the internet could be. Now I limit the time I spend online, because the actual people in my life are more important than the pictures on my Instagram feed. I'm more interested in living my life than trying to document it all online. Try to spend more time with your friends and limit screen time to find a healthier balance... we all know the kick of a post that gets lots of attention online, but the internet has a darker side too. If your real life is filled with friendship, fun and adventure, you'll find you naturally rely less on social media... give it a go!

Cathy says:
I agree with Honey on this one... social media can be bad for our mental health and most of us know it can be addictive. Have YOU got any good advice for Paula? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!