Monday, 29 February 2016

COOL CHICK... 1970S STYLE!

Recently I wrote about growing up in the 1970s, and lots of you liked the fashion pics I posted... so I thought I'd share some more seventies style with you!

Cathy says:
I remember when C&A was a cool place to buy your clothes. OK, maybe not a COOL place, but a place... it was a department store that sold clothes for all ages, and it was cheaper than a lot of the other shops, so most of my clothes as a teen came from there. I had a dress a little bit like the ones on the right when I was thirteen - very pretty and cute with lots of ruching and a flowery print. Two years later I had a brown party dress (who ever decided that brown was a party colour?) made of various contrasting Indian prints, and some tassels hanging from the waist, also from C&A. I never quite looked like the girls in the illustrations in Jackie mag, but I tried to follow the fashions, even when I wasn't all that sure I liked them much.

Make up was even harder than clothes.... I didn't have a clue. My first foray into the world of make up came at the age of eleven when I went on my first trio to town without an adult in tow, with a school friend called Siobhan. She was quite grown up and sophisticated... she loved the colour purple (almost as cool in the 1970s as brown!) and had a brilliant pair of purple flared dungarees and long light brown hair as straight and shiny as a model's. We headed straight for the make up counter in Boots and tried as many samples as we could - then we both bought an eyeshadow. The same eyeshadow, the coolest one in the whole shop. It was a tiny, push-up, lipstick-like tube of purple eyeshadow and cost about 40p. We ran into a nearby department store and went straight into the Ladies loo, where we smeared stripes of purple onto our eyelids and strutted around town feeling very grown up. We probably looked ridiculous, but who cared? We didn't.

A few years later, my favourite make up item was a strawberry flavoured lip gloss. It made my mouth look sticky and shiny, but it tasted nice. When punk came along, I got very good at painting on bright yellow eyeshadow alongside purple and blue. I looked like I had a couple of black eyes, but again, who cared? It was the fashion! I didn't have much money for make up as a teenager, so I never really got to experiment too much... but a friend once shared her glitter gel with me at a party, painting my cheeks and lips and eyelids with silver sparkles. That was the day I wore my first and only high heels and danced all night with a boy I'd never met before in a shiny blue bomber jacket and clumpy boots. I got blisters and had to walk home carrying the shoes... bad news. And I never saw the boy in the bomber jacket again, which was probably a very good thing. I tried to be a cool chick in the 1970s, but I didn't really succeed. The 1980s, though... well, that was a whole different story. I'll tell you about it sometime... ;o)

Could YOU have had fun as a teen in the 1970s? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 26 February 2016

GEORGE: SPEAKING UP FOR LIBRARIES

Twelve year old George cares so much about libraries he came along to the Speak Up For Libraries lobby at Westminster. He made one of the best speeches of the day and had his photo taken for the newspapers with a bunch of bestselling authors! 

George says:
On Tuesday 9th February I went to London after being invited to attend the Speak Up for Libraries rally in Westminster. I was asked to be a junior reporter at the event, and wanted to attend as I feel so strongly about the situation libraries are in right now - so many are being closed. I prepared a short speech beforehand, just in case I had the chance to speak, and luckily I was able to give that speech. Although I was nervous, authors Cathy Cassidy and Eve Ainsworth were especially supportive, and I was so glad to be able to speak up and make my point.


Our government say they want all children to have a library card, but this is hypocritical when they then close libraries right across the country. There is no benefit to closing libraries. It is like shutting off a child's access to knowledge. There is no legal requirement for schools to have a library, so how can children find the books they need if they have no public or school library? Many families cannot afford to buy books, and certainly not enough books to satisfy young, curious minds.

At the rally we heard how some children use libraries to escape problems at home or school, and also to access brilliant literature and do homework. Not only this, the visually impaired can borrow spoken word stories, book onto courses and socialise; the unemployed can use the computers to look for work; families with young children can co to Rhymetime and Storytime and meet other new parents. Libraries are a safe place for people with mental health issues and offer contact for the elderly who might not see or speak to anyone for days and days. My local library holds sensory storytime sessions for children with additional needs, who may not always feel comfortable or welcome in mainstream toddler groups.

Before the Speak Up For Libraries rally, I worried mainly about how library closures would affect children like me, but after hearing the speakers I learnt that library closures will affect the whole of our society.

Cathy says:
George is a brilliant speaker... the star of the show as far as I was concerned, and is now part of a new YOUTH LIBRARY CAMPAIGN I am putting together. Do YOU feel strongly about library closures? COMMENT BELOW to have your say and email me via the 'email Cathy' link on www.cathycassidy.com if you are interested in being part of the YOUTH LIBRARY CAMPAIGN.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

AMY: I WAS CHOSEN AS HEAD GIRL!

Reader Amy tells us what it's like to be chosen to be Head Girl of your school... 

Amy says:
Back in Year Seven, I had no clue that one day I might be Head Girl. I was quite shy at that point, but I settled into secondary school quite well, even though I was the only person from my primary to go to that school. It was scary to start with, but there were lots of girls in the same situation as me. I had a few problems with friendships in Year Eight and Nine, but by Year Ten I had made some great friends who helped me to build my confidence and encouraged me to take the opportunity of being Head Girl... I am really glad to have them!

By Year Ten, I was already a student leader and I was then selected along with seven other girls from my year, to take part in interviews to become Head Girl. We were interviewed by a panel of other students and had to do a presentation to the Head Teacher and head of student leaders, about what we hoped to do in our time as Head Girl should we be selected. I'm not sure why I was chosen - the other girls who were interviewed are amazing, and four of them are now my deputies, which is great! I am really flattered to have been chosen. I think part of it could be that I am quite articulate, which I get from reading so much! I used to take part in the annual Kid's Lit quizzes, which were amazing, and a great way to make new friends.

My school is great at getting girls to achieve - the motto is 'Enjoy, Achieve, Aspire.' We're a girls' school and they try to show us as many career opportunities as possible and make sure we know we can achieve as much as any male could. Right now there is a lot of focus on STEM subjects - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths - as there is such a lack of women in those fields. It scares me to think that the girls in my classes who excel in these subjects may not get to use their skills just because those careers are so male-dominated.

Our school is strict on uniform. We had a new design four years ago which I like much better than the old version, although it's still green which is not the most popular choice alas! The school is strict where it needs to be, but most teachers are laid back unless the students push it. One of the things I have helped to set up this year is a 'Year Seven Zone' where year Sevens can come if they want someone to talk to. Me and my deputies go there so that they can ask us questions and talk to us about stuff, which is great. There is also a support staff of student leaders who run an agony aunt email service for girls with any issues.

It's strange to think the younger girls look up to me, but a friend told me I should appreciate this and do something good with it. It was good advice, and now I try to encourage and support everyone as much as I can, especially during speeches and assemblies which is where I can make the most impact.

Cathy says:
Wow... Amy's school sounds pretty awesome! Do YOU ever dream of being Head Girl? What changes would you make? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

SALLY: NO SWEAT!

Reader Sally has a sticky problem to solve... read on and find out how Summer Tanberry would handle it!

Sally says:
I'm thirteen and most of my friends are wearing deodorant... actually, I feel like I'm the only one who isn't. Recently my dad said he thought me or my brother were smelling a bit weird after a hike, and secretly, I think it may have been me. I was too shy to say anything. I asked my mum recently at the supermarket if I could buy some deodorant as I was starting to sweat a lot more, but she says I don't need it because I shower every day. She doesn't understand! Don't say I should just sneak it into the trolley - seriously, my mum would just take it out again and return it. I find it very hard to talk to my mum about personal or girly things, but this is a problem I cannot ignore... what can I do?

Summer says:
It doesn't matter how clean you are, at puberty your body begins to perspire much more and as the day wears on, stale perspiration will not only feel wet, sticky and unpleasant but will also begin to smell. Exercise - like dance for example - can make matters worse, as can stress. As a dancer, I make sure I shower daily and use a good anti-perspirant deodorant once I have dried off, and body odour is not then a problem. Note, don't just buy deodorant - that will only mask the smell - you need an anti-perspirant deodorant. If you cannot talk to your mum about this, how about writing her a letter to explain your concerns and asking if she will reconsider. If she won't discuss the matter then, try asking your dad to have a word on your behalf. If that fails, use your pocket money to buy what you need. It's not ideal, but if your mum isn't able to see that you are growing up you may need to take matters into your own hands. Best of luck!

Cathy says:
Excellent advice from Summer - do YOU agree? Can you talk to YOUR mum about personal things? COMMENT BELOW and have your say!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

MY PASSION: PHOTOGRAPHY

Reader Emily shares her love of photography with DREAMCATCHER in today's post about awesome and inspiring hobbies...

Emily says:
I think I have always had a love of photography. When I was in Reception we learned how to take pictures, and while everyone else was taking photos of their shoes, I remember actually looking at shapes and objects to make a cool image. I took some pretty good pictures for a five year old! I don't have those old pictures now, and over the years I stopped thinking about photography until I was nine and got my first iPod. The thing I was most excited about was the camera element! I ran straight outside and ended up taking about 300 pictures of just one flower! I used up all my picture storage within a day and my mum and stepdad were not happy with me, to say the least!

That novelty did wear off, but when I got an iPhone 5S for my fourteenth birthday things stepped up once again. My stepdad told me the camera on it was really good, so I tried it out and discovered he was right. When Christmas rolled around I was fascinated by the lights on the trees and the candles... the different qualities of light had me hooked!

Right now, photography is just a hobby, but I am choosing my options soon and I am hoping to take photography as a GCSE. My step-mum's friend is an amateur photographer, and she has looked at my work and says I have some potential; other people have also said my pictures show promise, which gives me a boost! I've heard that photography is not an easy GCSE to take, so I will take that into consideration, but it's not every day you get the chance to study your passion! I think photography helps you to see the world in a new way. If I don't take it as a GCSE subject I will follow it as a hobby anyway. It's my favourite way of passing the time when I'm feeling bored, and it also gets me off social media! Whether you try it as a hobby or as something more serious, I definitely recommend photography!

Cathy says:
Love these photographs... I might be asking Emily to take some pics for the DREAMCATCHER blog in future! Are YOU an avid photographer? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 22 February 2016

A READER'S STORY: PICTURE PERFECT

Reader Ribh's fan-fiction story from Summer Tanberry's point of view is a real tear-jerker... make sure you have a box of tissues nearby!

Ribh writes:
As I flick through the photograph album with Mum, Paddy and my sisters beside me, tears sting my eyes. The photos are full of happy memories, but life's mishaps mean that they're upsetting memories now, and it hurts to see the photos. The others don't feel the same as me; they are laughing and saying how cute we were as children, while my heart breaks a little.

There is a picture of me, aged nine, walking in the forest near Tanglewood... there's snow on the ground and I'm carrying a lantern and a basket. Tears of sadness and joy flow down my cheeks - it's a perfect picture. I was with Mum and Dad - my real dad - and my sisters, and we were going for a winter picnic with our Christmas Day leftovers. We were happy then. I remember sharing in the feast, then dancing in the snow with the little lace skirt floating out around me.

Those were the days, the days when my eating disorder had not yet taken me over. The days when I always felt free and happy, when the love of dancing filled me up and lightened my soul. Back then my dreams were filled with images of dancing at the Royal Opera House. Now those dreams have turned into sleepless nights wondering what went wrong, wondering how the dreams turned to dust, how the world became a place filled with regret and heartache.

The tears streak my cheeks as I look at that old photograph, and I hate myself for letting an eating disorder destroy my dreams. I can't tell my sisters how I feel - they'd just worry even more about me than they do already. I am left feeling isolated and alone, looking at this fragment of a picture perfect life that was soon to fall apart, reminding me of the hopes and dreams I have lost, the happiness and freedom I have never quite found since. I may not be that happy chid any more, but I still have a child's innocence and vulnerability.

'You OK?' my twin Skye asks, and I wipe the tears away and pull a silly face.

'Sure,' I say. 'These old pictures are just so funny! How cute were we?'

I pretend that the tears are from laughter, and the innocent, vulnerable child is hidden yet again.

Cathy says:
Sniffle! Fab story, Ribh, and one that really taps into the deep sadness that Summer is hiding from her sisters. Gulp! Did YOU enjoy Ribh's fan-fiction? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

QUIZ: A NEW GIRL AT TANGLEWOOD...

Imagine there's a new girl at Tanglewood... a distant cousin of the Tanberry-Costello sisters, who just turns up for a visit. What would she be like? Take our just-for-fun quiz and see what your choices say about YOU!

1. You arrive on the doorstep of your distant cousins, with just a rucksack and a smile. What is your name?
a/ Viola
b/ Zanisha
c/ Kelly
d/ Marie-Louise

2/ The sisters ask where you have been living up until now. What do you tell them?
a/ With your Great Aunt Alexandra, in a large, rambling house in the Scottish Highlands.
b/ In a tower block in inner city London, although only because you are the secret daughter of a famous rock star and trying to avoid the publicity.
c/ In a small terraced house in Oswaldtwistle.
d/ In a down-at-heel chateau in the south of France.

3/ Paddy and Charlotte want to know why you're visiting unexpectedly. You can't tell them the whole story, but you do reveal...
a/ That your Great Aunt Alexandra once lived at Tanglewood, and you're curious to find out more about the family connections.
b/ That you're on the run from the papparrazzi....
c/ That you haven't had a holiday in ages and Kitnor looked pretty cool.
d/ That you have a huge and exciting family secret to investigate!

4/ You are given the gypsy caravan to stay in. You find it:
a/ Filled with the spirits of lost souls... your psychic powers won't let you get a moment's sleep!
b/ Old-fashioned and a bit draughty... and scary at night!
c/ Like heaven, after sharing a bedroom with an annoying little sister for the last six year of your life!
d/ Cool, quirky and private enough for you to work on your investigations.

5/ There is only one sister at Tanglewood you can confide in. Who, and why?
a/ Skye Tanberry - she knows all about the history of Tanglewood and is able to connect with the friendly ghosts who still linger there.
b/ Honey - she is soooo cool, like the big sister and role model you never had!
c/ Cherry Costello - she understands you and doesn't judge you for being a little bit of an outsider here.
d/ You can't trust anyone... this secret could rock the whole family!

6/ After a week, you disappear as unexpectedly as you arrived. Why?
a/ Your job is done. You've communicated with the lost spirits and set them free... they're able to rest in peace now, and you can finally let go of the sad story from your Great Aunt's past you've been uncovering.
b/ Your rock star dad has arrived in London. You'll be back... and you'll bring him along, to sing at the next Kitnor Chocolate Festival!
c/ You've had an amazing week, but if you stay any longer the family might find out that you're not related at all!
d/ Although you hold in your hands a secret that could pull the Tanberry-Costello family apart, you just cannot tell them. You have learned to love and respect them too much to ruin things, and some secrets are better off untold.

Now count up your results...
MOSTLY A:
You love mystery and intrigue, and delving into the past can offer plenty of that! You believe in ghosts and spirits and feel that the past is like another layer, just beyond the present - almost close enough to reach out and touch.
MOSTLY B:
You are looking for drama, glamour and thrills from a book - and also from life! You often dream of having a movie-star mum or a rock star dad... and you'd love to read about a character like Zanisha pitching up in the sleepy backwaters of Kitnor!
MOSTLY C:
You like your stories to be believable and based in reality, but perhaps with a twist in the tail. Like your character, you would love a chance to be welcomed with open arms into the cool and quirky world of Tanglewood... even if you don't really belong there!
MOSTLY D:
Romance, secrecy and a sense of danger are things that bring a story to life for you... Marie-Louise poses a threat to life at Tanglewood, though the sisters don't realise. Thank goodness she likes the family too much to drop a bombshell into their world! But... what IS that secret? ;o)

Cathy says:
Love this fun quiz... there could be a whole new book based on it. Or maybe four! Which character were YOU the most like? COMMENT BELOW and tell us more!

Friday, 19 February 2016

SKYSCRAPER HEELS… YES OR NO?

Do you like high heels? More to the point, can you walk in them? Readers share their love-hate relationships with high heeled shoes!

Kate says:
My favourite shoes are these blue suede platform sandals. I am not usually a high heels girl but platforms feel different - a bit less wobbly! They are very high - four or five inches - but the platforms under your feet make it seem less. Still, it took me a while to work out how to walk in them! My gran says everyone wore them in the 70s and I quite like the idea that I am being vintage when I wear them, but in a different way from the lace dresses and ballgowns style of vintage! The shoes make me feel tall (well, they would!) and powerful, and I love that they are so different and unique. I couldn't run for the bus in them, though - I'd probably break my ankles! They came from Afflecks Palace in Manchester which is three floors of awesome vintage and alternative fashion shops, and they cost £22 which is a bargain for the amount of times I have worn them and the compliments they've got. So I am not a high heels girl, but I AM a platform soles girl! They are the 'height' of cool!

Hazel says:
I'm not allowed to wear heels higher than two inches until I'm fourteen (almost there!) but I am definitely a fan. I'm not too keen on platform heels but I love stilettos - they just add elegance to every outfit! The colours and styles are amazing - I really fancy a pair of bright red heels!

Niamh says:
As much as I love my flats, I am just over five foot and my friends are all around 5' 8". I only really wear my heels on a night out, and even then I have to have a quick practice the day before. My highest pair are seven inches high with an inch and a half platform sole... true killer heels!

Rebecca G says:
I love my heels and wear them almost every day. They give me a sense of confidence. I can only wear about four inches though!

Rebecca T says:
I'm a disaster on heels! I had to have 4cm heels for prom... I could have had some gorgeous 8cm heels but I couldn't stand up in them. They'd have gone so well with my dress, too, and I'm really tiny height-wise so they'd have looked great. Ah well. I struggle not to trip over in trainers, let alone heels!

Annemarie says:
I wish I could walk in heels, but I just can't!

Holly says:
My dance shoes are the only high heels I'd really wear. I love them because they are so comfy (apart from right after a dance competition, when they really aren't!) and really pretty. The big bonus is that they make me 2.5 inches taller which is great when you're just 5' 4". As for normal heels, not a chance - they look pretty but they kill my feet until I take them off. Dance shoes excluded, I own two pairs of heels, my wedges and my prom shoes.

Grace says:
I can't walk in high heels. I can barely walk in a straight line in bare feet, so heels are a big no-no for me.

Violet says: 
Probably not, though I can't say I've tried! I wear platform boots but don't count them as they are still flat soled. High heels look uncomfortable and are not my style at all. Mum always suggests I try because I'm really short, but I don't see the point in looking taller if I spend most of my time face down on the floor or staggering around like Bambi!

Thanks to Kate, Niamh and Holly for the fab pics! Loving those shoes, too!

Cathy says:
I am hopeless... I have only had one pair of high heels, when I was sixteen. I wore them to a party and couldn't dance in them, then had to walk home in my stocking feet, carrying them... epic fail! I am strictly a flat boots kinda gal these days. Do YOU like heels? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

EMMA: THINGS I WISH I'D KNOWN AT THIRTEEN!

Reader Emma shares a few home truths with her thirteen year old self in today's DREAMCATCHER post… a must-read!

Emma says:
The teenage years, It's that time in your life you spend your childhood waiting for - there is no feeling that compares to that build up to your thirteenth birthday, and that gut feeling that tells you nothing will be the same again. Here are some of the things I wish I'd known back then. Although knowing me, if someone had told me I'd have pretended I was 'too mature' to listen!

  • You can't always get what you want, but you don't necessarily get what you need either. Sometimes, you work hard and do everything right and things STILL don't work out. This is just one of life's hard truths. Don't worry, though - life still tends to throw some good things your way every now and then, too.
  • At age thirteen, the chances are you'll be at secondary school and learning to organise your study and revision skills, sometimes for a midterm exam that you KNOW is not going to benefit you in the future. It may be a pain, but you have to learn it anyway. Do it sooner rather than later. Studying in a panic, ten minutes before an exam, is not good. Nor is running away and starting over under an alias. Trust me, spare yourself the mental trauma and do the work!
  • You don't have to figure out who you are overnight! In most teen movies you've ever seen, the main character has a lightbulb moment where they 'find themselves'. Chances are that won't happen. You're more likely to work things out as you go along. Small things you don't take much notice of at the time can combine to make you who you are!
  • People who are remembered are often those who are kind to others. That's right - not the best dressed girl, the best looking boy, the most popular person, but the kindest. In twenty years time, the chances are you're going to remember the person who helped you when you were down, not the well-dressed but not-so-nice popular kid.
  • Have fun. It's OK to go a bit crazy. This is the stage of your life when you are allowed to  get a bit reckless at times and blame it on your age. That's OK! There's no moment when you will be expected to know everything and grow up on the spot. If we were meant to do that, we'd have been going to school seven days a week and working in an office at age fourteen!
  • The majority of people are morally good. Everyone has their own cross to bear and when you come across someone who seems less strong morally, don't let them get to you. No-one knows what happens behind closed doors, and you don't win points for fighting back. There will be times when your instinct tells you to do it, but trust me, when you fight fire with fire, all you end up with is a bigger fire!
Picture posed by reader ALICE - many thanks Alice!

Cathy says:
Fab advice from Emma as always… what do YOU wish you'd known at age thirteen? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

MIA: I WANT TO TELL HIM THAT I LIKE HIM...

It's problem page time on DREAMCATCHER again... reader Mia has a boy-related worry for Honey Tanberry to unravel!

Mia says:
There is this boy in my class... and I really like him. The trouble is, he doesn't know this! I made a Valentine's card for him but in the end one of my friends had to hand it over as I was just too nervous. I really want to tell him that I like him but I am really scared. What can I do?

Honey says:
If it were me, I would just come out and tell him... or I'd try a bit of flirting so he was in no doubt that I had my eye on him. Not everybody is as upfront as I am though, so let's find a less in-your-face way to help him get the message! The Valentine's card should help... he'll already know that someone is crushing on him, and should be looking around for clues! If you're quite shy and anxious about this, why not go low-key and get chatting to him as a friend? That way the pressure is off and you can talk about silly, ordinary stuff and actually get to know each other a bit. If the attraction stays as strong as ever, good! You can build on this by mentioning a film at the cinema you're dying to watch, or hint that it's been ages since you last went ice skating or whatever, and see if he takes the hint! Once the pressure is off a little bit, he will be free to let you know if he likes you too, which is definitely progress. Not all boys mature as fast as girls do, so even if he does like you he may not feel ready for a relationship. Don't be sad if he doesn't share your feelings... cupid has rotten aim sometimes, but if you get to know him as a friend you'll have gained a mate anyway, and that can't be bad. And if that all seems too long and drawn out... well, just take a deep breath and tell him you fancy him to bits. It always seems to work for me!

Cathy says:
Honey cuts to the chase as usual... would YOU take her upfront and direct approach or can you suggest something more subtle? COMMENT BELOW with your suggestions fro Mia!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

ZOE: SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES!

Reader Zoe, a university student, took a study break to road-test a fab recipe for salted caramel cupcakes... if they taste as good as they look, we're in business!

You will need:
150g softened butter
150g caster sugar
3 free range eggs
150g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the buttercream:
50g softened butter
200g icing sugar
pinch seasalt
spoonful of salted caramel sauce
little cubes of fudge

To make:
- Preheat oven to 180c (160 if it's a fan oven, gas mark 4). Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cases.

- Place butter & sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs gradually until the mixture is smooth.

- Stir in the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.

- Spoon a little mixture into each cupcake case and bake for 25 mins until golden brown and firm to the touch.

-Set the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

- Make buttercream. Place butter in a bowl with 1-2 teaspoons boiling water, add icing sugar and beat until smooth, stirring in seasalt flakes. Ice the cupcakes.

- For extra amazing cupcakes, drizzle shop-bought salted caramel sauce across the tops of the cakes and scatter on a few cubes of fudge to complete the decadent effect. Invite some friends over to share - you will be very popular indeed, I promise!

Cathy says:
Swoon... this recipe is to die for, and Zoe's results are gorgeous... yum! Have YOU got a cool recipe for DREAMCATCHER? COMMENT BELOW to tell me more!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

SOPHIA: I AM STANDING...

Reader Sophia writes about the anxiety - and  the triumph - of learning to speak in public... thought provoking and inspiring!


Sophia says:
Shoulders back. Chin up. Eyes forward. I'm sure it seems a lot like I'm a princess in training, but I'm not. I am a regular student, just like you. It seems it has come to that dreaded part of the year when past memories - or nightmares, as I would rather call them - are dredged up before our eyes. Because it's happening again. We are no longer able to creep down the halls, following, not leading. There are no people to hide behind, because it's your turn now, the moon always rises and when it does the sun shines directly on it. There is no shadow to smuggle you away.It is a full moon; the moon is you.

You speak the words from the shaking cue cards, held in your sweaty palms. You are continuously reminding yourself, you only have to last for four minutes. The utter reality of the whole class gaping at you is hitting you in that very second. You would rather be at the back of the classroom, your nose almost touching the desk because the words are flowing out of you so fast.You are a writer, not a speaker. You are one of the two types of people in this world, that I've come to realise there are. I am the quiet not the loud, the submissive not the outgoing.

More often than not, those who cannot bear to place two feet down in front of the whiteboard are the ones that write a brilliant speech, if only they had the confidence to follow it through. Then there are those with convincing voices, bringing such superb elements to their speech that it balances the lack of art within the words. But I am the quiet, submissive, nose in a book kind of gal, and I am standing. Not fainting. But standing. My shoulders back. My chin up. My eyes facing forward, Because I am a writer, and words should not just be read, but said, and my words are worth being heard.

I am standing, my two feet in front of the whiteboard. Are you?

Cathy says:
Wow... I wish I'd read this when I was twelve or thirteen and quaking in my shoes at the idea of reading out loud, let alone the idea of delivering a speech. I am used to public speaking now, but back then it seemed all but impossible! Can YOU talk well in public? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

QUIZ: WHICH CC BOY SHOULD BE YOUR VALENTINE?

Reader Daisy has created a fab, fun quiz with a Valentine's theme to help you decide which Chocolate Box boy character could be your dream boy!

1. What does your dream boy look like?
a/ He's got to be cool and good looking... fair haired and boy-band handsome. Why not?
b/ He's cute in a boy next door way...
c/ He's different, not your type at all... but he sets your heart racing!
d/ He looks like he just crawled through a hedge... more of a nightmare boy!

2. He asks you out... where will he take you?
a/ To see a band... some mates of his who are really good.
b/ You'll share a Chinese takeaway on the top deck of a London bus...
c/ You'll watch the sunset over a turquoise ocean, talking of travel, hopes and dreams.
d/ To the Mad Hatter Cafe for hot chocolate and chat.

3. Your friends think...
a/ He's gorgeous... they're crushing on him too!
b/ He's great... but quite accident prone!
c/ He's quite serious but kind, and very good for you.
d/ They can't figure out what you see in him!

4. What you like most about him is...
a/ His looks and the way he serenades you on guitar!
b/ The soft centre beneath his rough and ready exterior.
c/ His adventurous spirit, his passion  and his loyalty.
d/ His sense of humour and his kind heart.

5. On Valentine's Day, he will probably...
a/ Write a song for you!
b/ Share a packet of Love Hearts sweets and tell you his troubles.
c/ Whisk you away on a mystery tour, just the two of you...
d/ Spend ages trying to think up a special treat... even if his planning does go a little wrong!

Count up your results...
MOSTLY A:
SHAY is your perfect Valentine's date... he's good looking, cool, musical and he knows all the right people. The minute he picks up that guitar you're lost!
MOSTLY B:
COOKIE is your ideal boyfriend... he needs a friend, someone he can trust and really talk to, and you're happy to take things slowly. He means the world to you!
MOSTLY C:
ASH is your perfect Valentine... he's smart, adventurous and true to himself, and though he's not the kind of boy you usually fall for, there's a strong connection between you. He's your soul mate.
MOSTLY D:
ALFIE is your perfect match... annoying at times, but with a heart of gold! You see a side to him that most others just cannot see, and know that his loyalty and devotion are unshakeable. Awww!

Read about Shay in CHERRY CRUSH; Cookie in FORTUNE COOKIE; Ash in SWEET HONEY and Alfie in MARSHMALLOW SKYE and SUMMER'S DREAM. Plus, most of them feature in the short stories in LIFE IS SWEET!

Cathy says:
Brilliant quiz... what was YOUR verdict? COMMENT BELOW to let me know!

Friday, 12 February 2016

SUMMER'S DREAM: IF YOU LIKE THIS BOOK YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS TOO...

Reader Katie reviews Cathy Cassidy's book SUMMER'S DREAM and offers a suggestion of another book that might appeal to those who have enjoyed it...

Katie says:
Summer Tanberry is the 'cool' sister, with passion and determination. Nothing is going to get in her way as she rockets her dancing career to the stars. Until, that is, eating takes a back seat and Summer loses control and falls into an eating disorder...

SUMMER'S DREAM is the third book in the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series. We have already heard about Cherry's past, about Skye's haunting connection to the story of a 1920s flapper girl and of course all the general craziness that goes on at Tanglewood. Summer snags a fair bit of the spotlight in these first books, but SUMMER'S DREAM is the first time we see her fragility. This book is sweet like the truffles Paddy created specially for Summer's thirteenth birthday - you just want to bite into it, eat it all up. The story of Summer trying to be the best she can be and sacrificing her health for the sake of dance really resonated with me. It was very powerful and thought-provoking. It also showcased the amazing bond between the Tanberry sisters, and of course in the background there is a wedding and a film being shot at Tanglewood.

If you have read and liked SUMMER'S DREAM and want to read more about someone struggling with an eating disorder, you could try LOSING IT by New Zealand author Sandy McKay. In this book, Jo, the protagonist is in hospital with anorexia and is learning the ropes, grasping an understanding of the privileges she can attain if she gains weight and sorely missing the normal life she could be living back home. Both are very powerful novels, handling difficult themes. (Cathy's note: LOSING IT is a Young Adult novel, so for older readers; it has won awards in New Zealand.)

The reason I loved SUMMER'S DREAM so much was that Summer was still loved and cherished by her family, even though in her mind she was not perfect and felt hopeless. Everybody should feel loved and cherished, no matter what.

Cathy says:
Once again, I am loving Katie's review and her recommendation of a book to read after SUMMER'S DREAM. I will be tracking it down! What book would YOU recommend to someone who enjoyed SUMMER'S DREAM? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

CRIMES AGAINST FASHION: THE SEVENTIES!

Back when I was a teenager, Jackie magazine was my guide to all things cool... and fashionable! Let's just say the seventies was a slightly scary decade...

Cathy says:
I bought my copy of Jackie magazine every Wednesday, and read it from cover to cover... I learned how to be a teenager from Jackie mag, and one of the things I loved was that it kept me up to date on the latest fashions. The fashion pages were always illustrated in those days, perhaps because it was cheaper than organising a model, a photographer and a crateful of clothes! One of my early ambitions was to be an illustrator for the Jackie fashion pages, and once I sent off some paintings inspired by one particular spread and got an encouraging letter back from the magazine!

There was just one problem... much of the fashion back then was not my style at all. I was not a fan of flared jeans and shirts with collars that might as well have been wings, the way they flapped about in the wind. I didn't like platform shoes (although I had some scary bright yellow ones) and popular haircuts like the feather cut left me cold. I did like the fashion for smock tops, though, and made one in needlework class at school. I was very proud of that! I also had a pair of dungarees that I loved a lot!

Casual clothes were fine, but anything smart was pretty grim. The brown suit in the picture here is horribly similar to a brown trouser suit I had at one point... it had been a present, and I hated it. Brown was very popular back then, but brown crimpeline flares and a blazer top? NOOOO!!! Later on I had to stick to a brown colour code in sixth form, and managed to have fun with it... tabards, layered skirts and woolies with peruvian style prints were in fashion by then. Skinny jeans had also appeared, part of the punk movement, and soon I had ditched brown crimpeline for drainpipe jeans, my dad's old outsize 50s jumpers and Converse trainers (yes, we had them back then too!). Punk was a breath of fresh air... and then I went to art college and discovered the joys of vintage shopping, and I've never looked back.

I don't miss 1970s fashions, even though they definitely count as vintage now! I'm glad to have grown up in that decade... even if it sometimes seems like a whole different world to me, now. And I still miss Jackie mag. There has never been anything quite as cool!

And now? My daughter is into vintage, too. Seventies style...

Cathy says:
Would YOU have worn any of the styles pictured? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

NATALIE: WHY LIBRARIES MATTER

Today, Tuesday 9th February, I'm at a Speak Up For Libraries event in parliament trying to get MPs to help us stop the closure of local libraries. What better day for my fab pal Natalie to give you her view of why we need libraries?


Natalie says:
My job title is 'Service Lead for Young People, Libraries, Learning and Arts' - and it's my job to make sure young people feel welcome, valued and have lots to inspire them in Worcestershire libraries! I co-ordinate young volunteers, run the young poet laureate competition and experiment with ideas like open mic nights. I'm also a Green Party activist and have just gone vegan after 30 years as a veggie... I can bake scrumptious vegan cakes! We share our home with two cats and two rescue guinea pigs. I've been doing this job for eight years - I love working with young people and this was a chance to start from scratch and work on ways to get young people involved in libraries. This matters to me because I believe that libraries change lives. For many, libraries are the only places in a community which are free, warm, welcoming and free of judgement. I feel passionately that we should do everything in our power to preserve, protect and invest in them!

I think libraries do need to change and develop in order to survive and thrive, but not at the expense of the traditional library services. We can offer story time, local history resources and research facilities, but we must also evolve and embrace digital technology, run community and family learning sessions, have author events and open mic nights. This makes sure libraries are vibrant... the beating heart of a community.

We try to be brave about trying new things - we find out what people would like and experiment! Young people told us they had nowhere to go to sing, play music, tell stories... so we extended opening hours at one library and began an open mic slot. We now have three regular open mic nights at different libraries across the region! We have a great partnership with a National Trust property, Croome Court, and have a mini festival there in the summer. We run a Teen Book Award too, which Cathy has won - we take a whole load of books to schools, libraries and youth groups and run a 'speed-dating' session where teens choose their favourites and then vote for an overall winner! There is a big celebration event with a guest author - last year Juno Dawson came, which was cool as 'Say Her Name' won!

Young people are increasingly using our libraries to relax in, volunteer in, learn new skills, grow in confidence and escape into the exciting worlds brought to them by books. I'm angry that so many libraries have been closed and scared that many more may follow. A library makes a huge difference to a community - it is filled with opportunities, adventures and brilliant staff. It can inspire, innovate, educate, nurture and plant the seed that grows into love of books and learning. Please, let's not sit by and allow our libraries to be destroyed.

Cathy says:
Natalie is pretty awesome... and so are libraries! If you want to make sure your library stays open, use it - that little piece of plastic really is a 'golden ticket' that can change your life. Do YOU use your local library? COMMENT BELOW and tell us more!

Monday, 8 February 2016

PERFECT PANCAKES!!!

It's Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day - on Tues 9th February... Summer Tanberry is here to show you how to make the best pancakes ever!


You will need:
125g (4oz) plain flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
300ml (1/2 pint milk)
vegetable oil to fry

- Sift the flour into a bowl and add salt. Make a dip in centre of the sifted flour and break egg into this. Whisk into the flour and gradually add the milk, whisking all the time until you have a lump free batter.

- Place batter in the fridge for 30 mins to chill.

- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add a little vegetable oil and ensure it thinly coats base of pan.
- Pour in a little batter and swirl so it fills the base of pan. Cook for one minute, then flip with a spatula or toss if you are brave. Cook other side until golden and turn onto a plate.

- Lightly oil pan before each new pancake until the batter is all used up.

To serve:

- Go traditional and serve your pancakes with a simple scatter of lemon juice and sugar!

-Try a savoury filling... grated cheese with red onion or mushroom is different and very cool!

- Fresh fruit, berries or chopped banana are perfect with homemade pancakes... sweet but healthy too!

- Get decadent and go for Nutella or melted chocolate with some squirty cream!

- Maple syrup drizzled over the pancakes is traditional across the Atlantic, and hard to beat!

Did you know that Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins? It is the last day of feasting before the 'fasting' of Lent, when christians traditionally give up certain foods or eat frugally for forty days and forty nights. Traditionally, pancakes were eaten - sweet, rich or spicy - as a final feast before the Lenten fast began. 

Cathy says:
Do YOU make your own pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Summer's recipe means you can certainly give it a go! COMMENT BELOW to tell us how you get on!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

CHINESE NEW YEAR!

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, 1998, 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

WE LOVE LIBRARIES!

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

MAKE MOSAIKO... A GORGEOUS GREEK TREAT!

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 www.cathycassidy.com to share it and COMMENT BELOW to tell me more!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

TANIA: I'VE LOST ALL MY FRIENDS!

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

YOUR HOROSCOPE FOR FEBRUARY!

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

KATHRYN: MORE OF ME!

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...

Eight:
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...

Eleven:
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.

Fifteen:
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!

Fifteen:
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.

Eight:
Fifteen believes in fairies!

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

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

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

Teva:
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.  http://www.usborne.com/catalogue/catalogue.aspx?id=9827
Find out more at www.kathrynevans.ink

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!