Tuesday, 2 September 2014

LAUREN: I'M A CATHOLIC

Another in our occasional series on readers with strong religious beliefs… we talk to Lauren, who is a Roman Catholic.

Lauren says:
I have been Catholic my whole life, having been baptized at a very early age like the rest of my family. As time goes on, I am more and more sure that this is the religion for me - I find security in the consistency of the church, knowing that even since its beginning, the teachings haven't really changed. The word 'Catholic' is derived from the Greek word 'Katholikos', which means universa;: very apt, because no matter where you go in the world and no matter what language it is, the Catholic mass is always the same!
This year is very important for me, as it's the year of my Confirmation. Unlike Baptism and First Holy Communion, for which we are guided by our parents, this sacrament is the choice of the individual, if they wish to spend the rest of their lives as a Catholic. I've been attending classes with other kids my age, and we all have different perspectives and very interesting questions too.
The Bible and the rosary are both important for reflection and prayer. We do pray through Mary and the saints, asking them to intercede for us, but contrary to some beliefs we don't actually pray TO Mary.  It bothers me that people are quick to villainise the Catholic Church, accusing it of corruption. There have been a few incidents in history, but how can those instances be used to blame the whole congregation, the whole church?
I wouldn't say it was easy to be a Catholic, but I believe it is worth it to strive for the ideals and morals. After all, the church considers love and forgiveness to be the most important things; and isn't that what we all desire in the end?

Cathy says:
Like Lauren, I was brought up a Catholic, and though I don't follow a religion these days, I loved the ritual and mystery of the religion when I was small. Do YOU have strong religious beliefs? Or are you happy to live your life without it? COMMENT BELOW to share your views… but as always, be respectful of other people's beliefs in what you post! 

Monday, 1 September 2014

THAT'S NOT MY NAME…

We asked CC readers with cool and unusual names to tell us the pros and cons of having an out-of-the-ordinary name! 

Piper says:
I didn't used to like my name when I was younger - I wanted to be called Lucy or Holly like the other girls. Now that I'm older, I enjoy having an unusual name and I think it's very cool to be the only Piper in the school! Although I can never find anything with my name on it in gift shops! My mum is called Karen and she said she wanted me to have an unusual name because she was at school with lots of other Karens and didn't like that… she decided early on that if she had children, they'd be given unique names! It was actually my dad who chose the name Piper, though; he loves old films and so I am named after an actress called Piper Laurie!

Agnia says:
My name is from Greece originally, but is also used in Russia, where it is pronounced 'Ag-nee-ya'. Hardly anyone can pronounce it right! It is linked to the Indian name Agni, named for an important  Indian god, and in poland it is used as Agnieszka. I am Russian, so my name has always been Agnia! Having a foreign name can be annoying. Some of my teachers say it wrong, but some ask about it and say they like it, which I really appreciate! I sometimes get teased for my name and some kids make up silly nicknames from it, but I just ignore things like that. My friends call me Agnes or Agz, which I am totally fine with!

Yilonda says:
My name is Yilonda Elaine… Yilonda means violet and Elaine means bright light. Having unusual names gives you that feeling of being special and unique… different from everyone else. When I introduce myself to new people, my name is always complimented, but having an unusual name DOES have disadvantages. People rarely get my name right to begin with… they say Yilinda, Yolond… and for Elaine they say Lilain, Helen, Lane, even Snail, once! It can be a little bit annoying! When I was younger, I was teased with embarrassing synonyms to my name but that doesn't happen so much now. I'm African, so few people in my country have heard of these names I have, but I see them as a blessing.



Sioned says:
My name is Welsh and means 'God's gift'. My mom chose my name when she was reading a Mills & Boon historical novel in which the heroine was called Sioned; Mom wasn't familiar with the name, but she liked it. She asked my dad how to pronounce it and he told her he'd read a science fiction book which also had a heroine called Sioned! Mom decided right there and then that this would be my name. I love having a unique name because you usually don't know anyone with the same name, which makes it all feel special. I also love that books inspired the name, because I love to read! The only downside I can think of is that you don't get your name on any merchandise.

Alinka says:
I am Indian, but was born into a Catholic family and we usually keep  the traditional Christian names… but my parents wanted a rare Christian name, and one beginning with A as that was Dad's initial too. My cousin, who was eight at the time, first came across the name Alinka and my parents chose it for me. It's not even an Indian name and I hated it as a child; people often pronounced it wrong and I was always envious of my Christian friends with names like Stacey, Lauren and Amanda. One day i saw a feature in a newspaper about rare foreign flowers, and one particular rose caught my eye… it had my name below it! I literally squealed and shouted with joy! Finally, I'd seen my name somewhere! Slowly, I started to like the name. The name Alinka is rare and unique… and so am I!

Cathy says:
I love these names and the very cool and positive attitudes they have created in these readers! It's great to stand out from the crowd and be memorable, right? Do YOU have an unusual name you'd like to tell us more about? Or a favourite name from those mentioned above? COMMENT BELOW and have your say!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

NESSA: SINGING THE BLUES...

Reader Nessa loves writing songs - and finds it's the only thing that has helped her cope with depression…

Nessa says:
I have always struggled with strong emotions and looked for ways to feel less out of control - I have never been good at expressing my feelings. By the time I hit my teens, I felt like I hated myself, and began falling into the most horrible depression… I would do anything I could think of of hurt and punish myself, and nothing seemed to help me break free of it.

Not long ago, when I was really down and my emotions were so messed up that I couldn't concentrate properly on anything, I hit rock bottom - I felt like I couldn't go on. Out of nowhere, I started to write… not stories, but lyrics. I used my own feelings and experiences to create the songs, and after a while I talked to a friend about it and she came up with the tunes on her guitar. I would love to perform the songs one day.

I like songwriting because it is a way to let out my emotions without having to talk - it can be hard to talk about such personal stuff, especially if you have social anxiety. Writing songs doesn't come naturally to me the way it might to some people, but that just makes it more rewarding when I manage to write a good song. I write in all kinds of different styles - I've even written a rap, about a break-up, which I think is quite cool! Often I write about things I've been through… the subject matter can be dramatic and emotional, but it's a good way to let it all out…

Faking a smile, holding back tears…
Am I really strong enough to fight?
I would turn up the music and block out the world
I'm not dreaming…

Cathy says:
I think it's amazing that Nessa is using her own experiences to write songs… she is channelling those strong and painful emotions into something very powerful and beautiful. Do YOU have a way of coping with strong or difficult feelings? COMMENT BELOW to share your ways of handling the hard times, or to give a shout-out to Nessa for making something creative and beautiful out of her struggles.

Name has been changed and pics are posed by model to protect Nessa's privacy.
Model: Charlotte S
Photographer: Sarah S

Saturday, 30 August 2014

FAY: MY VINTAGE STYLE!

Another in our occasional series of profiles looking at readers who follow their own unique style… 

Fay says:
My favourite thing about vintage style is knowing that an item has been loved by others before you. My definition of vintage is, 'things with memories attached', and my prize possessions are a 1940s red and black coat, silk elbow length gloves, a floppy woven hat, a black taffeta floor length skirt, a black velvet hat and a yellow 1950s style dress. My vintage idol is Audrey Hepburn - I am trying to teach myself Dutch in her honour!

My interest in vintage style began soon after I became obsessed with dressing as a porcelain doll, and that kind of linked me in to the whole vintage way of life. I like to be pale so I wear factor 50 suncream, pale powder and foundation… and if I find myself on a beach or somewhere hot, I use my parasol. For make up, I also use candy-floss colour cheek tint to make me look more doll-like.

Of course, in school we have a uniform so I use my pale powder and add knee length socks (sometimes with frills) and tie my hair with ribbons to fit the look. I like to be different because it is a way to show you are not afraid of what others may think; you have a right to be true to yourself and not to have to follow crowds or stick to the latest trend. My fashion motto is: 'Trends wear out, but style can be yours for a lifetime!'

Fay's Tips:
1/ Try to find bargains!
2/ See what you like best; just because someone famous favours 80s style, you may be more of a 50s kinda person.
3/ Ignore size labels - they had different sizing back in the day!
4/ Try vintage accessories with modern outfits… I often do this with a hat, scarf, necklace or pair of shoes!
5/ Have fun and don't be scared to try on bizarre clothes… they'll look better on you than on the hanger!


Cathy says:
Fay's style is very cool… I love it! Do YOU have a unique take on fashion and style? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more, or to comment on Fay's style!

Friday, 29 August 2014

DEBORAH: AT THE QUEEN OF TEEN CEREMONY!

Reader Deborah, who was my superfan at the fabulous Queen of Teen ceremony recently, spills the beans on what happened there…

Deborah says:
The Queen of Teen Ceremony was amazing. When you put things like books, quirky authors, a pink carpet and a buffet with nothing but cake, you could make any girl smile! Meeting Cathy was a dream I had from the first hour I became a fan. I always imagined her signing my books and asking me what I want to do in life. The reality was ten times better than my dream! Cathy was super friendly and been worried I wouldn't get there in time (I was over an hour late because of bad traffic!). She gave me a notebook for my own stories - this reminded me a lot of when Charlotte gave Cherry a notebook in Cherry Crush! I am totally saving it for when I write a bestseller!

The ceremony was even more amazing. There were boards with all the shortlisted authors printed up on them - I have one with Cathy's signature on it! The cake stands in the food tent were overflowing with treats! There were piles of books on every table for readers to take for free and then get signed by the authors, and the rows of seats came right up to the front of the marquee where the throne was! The thought of my speech totally slipped my mind so when it was my turn to give a superfan speech I just resorted to telling the story of my life and how Cathy's books had helped me, and afterwards everybody  complimented me on how good my speech was. Holly Smale even wrote 'great speech' in my copy of her book when she signed it!

On the whole, the ceremony was a dream come true. I met the best author in the world and many of her colleagues, ate the best cakes ever and took in so much happiness I stayed in dreamland for weeks afterwards! I got a gift bag and books from the other authors and brought along EVERY Cathy Cassidy  book printed that I own to be signed! People wait a lifetime for a moment like that day and I honestly can't believe it all happened to me!

Cathy says:
It was a privilege for ME to meet such a talented and enthusiastic reader as Deborah - I couldn't have asked for a better 'superfan'! I may not have won the award this year - the new Queen of Teen is the one and only James Dawson, flying the flag for equality. Have YOU ever had a dream-come-true-day? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more, or to have your say on Deborah's experience!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

LES FILLES AU CHOCOLAT!

Did you know that the Chocolate Box Girls is a bestselling series in France? Mais, oui! We asked some French readers to review their fave CC books...

Zoe says:
I am thirteen years old and I love the books 'The Chocolate Girls'. I started reading the books a year ago. My mother gave me COEUR CERISE (CHERRY CRUSH) when I came back from a holiday with my grandmother. I love the books because there is so much suspense and I love the chocolate theme. As soon as I finish one of the books I want to learn more, I feel as though I am inside the story! I absolutely love the story of many sisters and I like that each sister has a book to tell her own story, which keeps it all exciting and unexpected. I wrote to Cathy Cassidy and asked for a signed photograph, which Cathy sent to me! Thanks to Cathy, I love to read!

Line and Jeanne say:
Line: I'm twelve and I live in the north of France. My favourite Chocolate Box book is COEUR SALE (BITTER SWEET). Shay Fletcher, fifteen years old, discovers that his brother is a much better person than he thought. He will even help him make his dream come true: become a famous singer. I liked this book because we get to know Shay much better and appreciate him even more!
Jeanne: I am fourteen, and Line's sister. I have read all of the Chocolate Box books… I loved all of the series but my favourite so far is the last one, COEUR VANILLE (SWEET HONEY). I like it because at last everything becomes clear about the family's split up. Honey starts to understand that Cherry and Paddy are good people and she slowly sees that her dad is not as perfect as she thought. Besides, there is a big mystery and lots of suspense… and also a love story!

Enora says:
I discovered the books of Cathy Cassidy by chance (a good chance!). I was passing a holiday with my grandmother and left all my books at home, so we went to the library in the next village. Many books did not look interesting, and then I read the summary of COEUR CERISE (CHERRY CRUSH) the first book of the Chocolate Box series. I finished the book the same evening and re-read it over and over. Since this day, I have bought all of the books a few days after they are released! I love the books because they have my favourite flavours in their names… and because I can 'find' me a little in each book and each character! A love story? A chocolate story? Totally my style! I cannot pick out any character as my favourite because I adore them all! Great books that I share with my friends.

Cathy says:
I think my French readers are AWESOME! I can't wait to visit Paris again this November for the Montreuil Book Fair and meet more French fans… tres cool! COMMENT BELOW if you are a French reader - or if you've ever been to France!

SUMMER STYLE REPORT: CUTE HAIR ACCESSORIES...

Looking for SOMETHING to finish off a special look, or to get the holiday vibe when you're heading for sunnier climes? Summer style reporter Manda has some suggestions!
Pic one…
Manda says:
I thought this one was lovely, it felt all royal and exotic - just different from everything else, which I loved! Don't know how well it would stay on in the long run, but with a few hair grips I could probably make it work! I'd probably leave it for special occasions as I don't see it going with everyday clothes too well (at least my idea of everyday, which is extremely casual!), but overall I like it… it makes me feel a little like an Asian princess!

Cathy says:
Very Eastern… I can imagine wearing this for a night out in Tunisia or Morocco! It's beautiful and very eye-catching, but it could be a little too ornate for a weekend in Blackpool…

Pic two…
Manda says:
Although it's pretty, this wasn't really one of my favourites. I kind of liked the little chiffony flowers, but at the same time I think I prefer the more realistic ones. It's a bit plain for my tastes, but it probably depends what you wear it with; I can see it looking good with more of a fancy evening dress, where normal flower crowns wouldn't be as fitting… as long as the colours didn't clash! It reminds me vaguely of a costume I had in a dance show once, so I can see it being part of some kind of ballet costume too!

Cathy says:
A simple flower crown/ headband in soft, flattering colours… this is the summer of the flower-crown, and this one isn't too over the top. It wouldn't be out of place anywhere. Ideal for a boho beach look, but just as much fun for summer in the city!

Pic three…
Manda says:
Again, all the shiny gold bits and the little gems make it more suitable for evening/party wear I think… probably worn with something fairly plain! I do really like this. I like that you can be all classy and elegant while still remaining in the spirit of summer - although I think you could still get away with this at other times of the year!

Cathy says:
Stay golden! This glittering headband has its own glitz and glamour appeal, but neatly avoids being flash or fussy. It suits Manda's colouring and would be cool for a swish city break holiday… or a party night back at home.

Pic four…
Manda says:
This one is just really girly, cute, simple and somewhat old-fashioned, so basically I love it a lot! I'm getting a bit of a vintage schoolgirl vibe from it, which is definitely cool! Again, I don't know how well it would go with the contents of my wardrobe, but if I could find something to match I feel like I might wear this one a lot. It seems like it could easily fit with both everyday and also more special occasions!

Cathy says:
This is my favourite. It's cute, fresh and fun with a great vintage twist, and though it's simple it really pulls Manda's look together. Anywhere, any place, any time… super-cute.

OK… your turn, now! COMMENT BELOW to cast your vote for YOUR fave accessory… which one would YOU choose, and where would you wear it?