Thursday, 23 June 2016

LARA: FRIENDS FOR LIFE?

Reader Lara talks about her friendships over the years, any why it's only natural that friendships change and evolve...

Lara says:
My first friends were at playgroup, aged two or three. They were the kids who taught me how to share toys and biscuits... we hugged, howled, pushed each other, got mad, got sad, got happy. Two friends, Jayde and Tomasz, I saw outside of playgroup too because our families lived quite close and would take turns having everyone to their place. They were a bit like having a brother and a sister, before I actually did have siblings! When you are that age, everything is simple... you might get angry, but the row would be over in a moment, put right by a beaker of orange squash and a chocolate biscuit.

Things were harder at primary school. Neither Jayde nor Tomasz were there; Tomasz had moved by then and Jayde went to a private prep school and we stopped seeing each other gradually, because things weren't the same any more. My new best friend was Jenna, and we went everywhere together for years, until Year Four when she went off with a new girl and I was left being the 'third wheel' with my other friends Maya and Suranne. They were great, but I was always the extra one, and I didn't always get included in sleepovers or days out. I had another friend, Isabelle, from Brownies, but although we got on brilliantly she lived in a village outside of town so I didn't see her outside of Brownies. I think I went through the last two years of primary with a fake plastic smile fixed onto my face, pretending everything was fine when it wasn't. I was both terrified and so desperate to get to secondary school.

Secondary school does shake things up. You make new friends whether you like it or not, and you have a far wider pool of friends to pick from. Suranne went to a different school so Maya and I were close to begin with, but we added new friends to our group, Ana, Lisette, Kate, Roz and a boy called Dezzy. We are all really close now (Year Nine) and I cannot imagine my life without them. Each of them has taught me different things... patience, kindness, curiosity, courage, determination, staying power and lots more. You can never judge a person, you have to really get to know them, and we have been through some challenging stuff too - parents divorcing, a stepmum, a grandparent dying, one of us coming out as gay (Dezzy) and coping with new baby sisters (me!). I hope I will always have these friends, because although we are not the 'cool' group or the 'clever' group or anything like that, we have SO much fun and we are always there for each other.

I am grateful to all the friends I have had along the way, and excited to meet the ones who will be part of my future, because all of them are a part of my journey.

Illustration by Cathy Cassidy

Cathy says:
I love this... I could not have put it better, Lara! What better way to celebrate your friendships than to enter this year's MY BEST FRIEND ROCKS comp? What are you waiting for? And COMMENT BELOW to tell us about YOUR friends, too!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

MARY: NEW GIRL TROUBLES

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER... reader Mary has a friendship dilemma. Can Coco Tanberry help?

Mary says:
I have a small group of friends at school and there's this girl who is really nice I've made friends with. She has joined our friendship group, but one of my best friends has told me she doesn't like the new girl - although everyone else in the group does. I don't want to make my best friend hang out with someone she doesn't like, but I don't want to get rid of the new girl either. What should I do?

Coco says:
The fact that your best friend is the one reacting so strongly here suggests that this is a jealousy issue; if anyone else had brought the new girl into the group I suspect all would have been well. Your best friend is feeling insecure and pushed out, so they way to sort this is to give her more attention and reassure her that she is and always will be special to you. Why not arrange some sleepovers or days out, or plan some time for just the two of you to bond? This should help her to see that the new girl is no real threat. Friendship groups can be a test of our generosity at times, because there is always someone we like more or less than others, but that's life... and after all, you can never have too many friends! Make sure your best friend knows you're not trying to push her out and there's no reason why things shouldn't settle down again pretty fast. Good luck!

Cathy says:
Good advice from Coco... when friendship groups change it can be unsettling, but it's definitely worth putting in some extra effort to make sure everyone is happy. Have YOU ever been in this situation? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

LOOKING GLASS GIRL... FALL INTO AN AWESOME STORY!

Readers share their fab reviews of my book LOOKING GLASS GIRL, which has just gone into paperback... have YOU read it yet? What are you waiting for? ;o)


Milly says:
I was so excited to read this new release by my favourite author! LOOKING GLASS GIRL is Cathy's modern take on the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice in Wonderland. To begin with I was confused as the book jumps around in time, but I quickly got used to this and was soon hooked - it proved to be a very clever technique! The storyline is amazing. When a sleepover at popular girl Savvy's house goes badly wrong, Alice ends up in hospital. I love the way one chapter is a real-life version of what is happening, and the next chapter is a fantasy wonderland version of the story. LOOKING GLASS GIRL is one of my favourite books, and I would highly recommend it!

Ella says:
Straight from the very first page, I was interested in the story of LOOKING GLASS GIRL. The ambulance call had me hooked and I just couldn't put the book down. My favourite part was where Alice and Luke were on the swing and just for that one moment, everything was perfect. I felt like I was in the story, watching everything happen! I could really relate to Alice as I have also had friends a little like Yazmin and Elaine in the past. The part where Alice was in a coma was very emotional and I must admit I cried a little bit... shhh!!! This is one of my favourite Cathy Cassidy books ever and I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will maybe be a sequel! (Hint, hint!)

Sophie says:
LOOKING GLASS GIRL is another awesome book from Cathy Cassidy. It is a beautifully captivating read about main character Alice, a teen who goes to an Alice in Wonderland themes sleepover (which sounds amazing!). Alice has a mysterious and dramatic accident which leaves her in a coma... or, from Alice's point of view, in a menacing kind of 'Wonderland'. The book pulls you into two different worlds... down the rabbit hole into the dark unconscious terrain of Alice's Wonderland, and also into the real world of her family and friends. You're totally hooked, wanting to find out just what happened to Alice and how or if she will ever return to the 'real' world. I love how the book is split between these different realities. It's also a very real and relateable book with friendship dilemmas and fall outs. I felt I knew just how Alice was feeling and wanted to jump in and offer comfort and advice! Like all CC books, this is a great escape and inspired me to find out more about the original Alice - the film, music, other interpretations and artwork. It's a beautiful book and I know I'll re-read it again and again.

Cathy says:
Thanks, Milly, Ella and Sophie for your fab and lovely reviews of LOOKING GLASS GIRL! I'm so glad you loved it! Have YOU read this book yet? Or would you like to review a different CC book? COMMENT  BELOW to have your say or email reviews via the 'email Cathy' link over on www.cathycassidy.com 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

SHRIYA: WHEN EMOTIONS GO HAYWIRE...

Reader Shriya tells us what it's like to cope with Borderline Personality Disorder in this honest and inspiring post...


Shriya says:
I have depression and Borderline Personality Disorder... it's a disorder which means you are very very sensitive and at times it causes your emotions to go haywire. I was really unhappy, sad and depressed and was harming myself too. Some days I just wanted to sleep and other times I wanted to kill myself because the emotional pain was so bad. A family member often put me down and that made things worse. My mum took me to the doctor - my best friend, who is an online friend, alerted her to how I was feeling and although I was angry at first I'm grateful now. I find it harder to make friends than some people do - I expect things to be perfect and if they're not I give up easily, and I find it hard t to trust people. I struggle to concentrate at school and I can't sit still for long, which makes life difficult. I can get upset of angry very fast, but as I'm a quiet person I don't express it; in the past i have turned the anger on myself, but these days I have learned to talk to someone, usually ChildLine.

I get a lot of help from my doctor and I am on medication which really does help me to feel better. I get fantastic support from my best friend too... as I mentioned, she's an online friend and I have never actually met her, but she understands me and I trust her completely. I am now a member of the ChildLine message boards - this are an awesome place where kids can support each other through difficult times. No problem is too big or too small to talk about - you can post about anything from arguments with siblings to bigger things like drinking and even doubts about periods and stuff. It is a safe space and very supportive.

I think taking care of our mental health is very important for us all - and of course you don't need to have a problem to be aware of what's going on in your mind and in your feelings! Talking things out, exercising and doing things that you enjoy can all bring contentment and help us to stay healthy. And if you do feel that something is bothering you, that something is wrong, there is absolutely no shame in asking for help! It is difficult to handle these issues, but a part of me sees it as a positive thing because it has taught me how to calm down properly and ask for help. I also find the joy in little things these days, which helps so much. I write a dairy and a gratitude journal in which I write things that make me happy every day, and I find that craft, music and cycling all help a lot. Being sensitive is not all bad... it can help very much in understanding other people, and I think we all need to do a lot more of that!

Cathy says:
I love Shriya's honesty and openness... and her courage in turning things around. Have YOU ever struggled with mental health issues? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 17 June 2016

HOLLY: HOW INDIGO BLUE CHANGED MY LIFE

Reader Holly explains why CC book INDIGO BLUE had such an impact on her life and helped to shape her future career...

Holly says:
I'm from Australia and I'm twenty-two - ancient, I know! The first CC book I read was DIZZY, more than ten years ago now, when it was given away free with an Aussie tween magazine. I loved it immediately and read it twice before lending it to all my friends so they could love it too!

I've always been a big reader but I got stuck for a while between kid's books and teen books. I loved writers like Enid Blyton but started to grow out of that style of writing and when I started high school the teen novels seemed a bit scary and grown-up for me just yet. That's why DIZZY seemed so perfect - she was my age and cool, and I loved her story, so I then used my pocket money to go out and buy INDIGO BLUE and DRIFTWOOD and I was instantly hooked. The characters seemed so real, like people I could meet at school or at soccer practice or at the beach, and I started writing stories myself and creating characters that felt real in the same kind of way. I ended up coming first with my creative writing piece in my HSC (a bit like British A levels) for one of these stories.

INDIGO BLUE was always my favourite because, like Indie, blue is my favourite colour - and because it was the first time I had properly heard of a social worker and what they do. Again, reading LUCKY STAR, the job of the social worker was outlined and the seed of an idea began to form. I thought this sounded like something I would like to do when I finished school, a really useful job where I could work with kids and people who needed help, so I applied to do a Social Work degree at the University of Sydney, and I got in. I am working towards my degree now, and I still read everything I can get my hands on, especially stuff that has interesting characters. I hope to move to London when I finish my degree and maybe, one day, I will even be able to help my own 'Indigo Collins'. I guess you could say that book changed my life!

Cathy says:
Wow... this post has made me smile and smile! Have YOU been influenced by a CC book? Or are YOU an older reader who can't quite let go of your fave CC books? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

MEGAN: MERMAID GIRL...

Reader Megan has an awesome short story with a seaside theme to share with you... dive in and enjoy!

There she was again. I could see her from across the pond, eyes large and hypnotising, awash with deep blues and sea greens with flecks of golden yellow. Her skin was a shimmering turquoise, each scale glinting in the watery afternoon sunshine, a flash of rainbow every so often. Her hair was a coppery brown, damp and wavy, clinging to her shoulders.

I couldn't look away. Even with scales she looked like an ordinary girl, but I knew that she wasn't. Suddenly she dived under the water, emerald green tail thrashing around. A few seconds later she emerged from the water just in front of me, eyes sparkling. She presented her hand to me, fingernails a pearly pink, webbing in between her fingers. She smiled as if to say, 'Trust me.'

I did, strangely. Every time I have seen her I've felt as if she understands me, understands me better than my own family do. We had a connection, a sisterhood. The nervous knot in my stomach disappeared and I grinned, seizing her hand, leaping into the water, laughing. Bubbles formed around me, like magic. When it fizzled away, we smiled at each other and, hands joined, we swam away... away from this boring, dry life.

I didn't know where we were going. I didn't know what would happen. I just knew that everything was going to be OK, as long as my sea sister was with me, exploring the great deep.

Fabulous artwork by reader Skye: thank you!

Cathy says:
Awesome story by reader Megan... I was totally hooked! Do YOU love to write? Would you like to see more short stories on DREAMCATCHER? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

LINDSEY: SCARED OF SUMMERTIME

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER, and reader Lindsey has a problem for Summer Tanberry to unravel...

Lindsey says:
I hate the summer because when the weather gets hot everyone strips off and wears short shorts and little sleeveless tops, and you can't hide away under layers any more. In case you haven't guessed, I am very overweight and so ashamed of my size. I take a size 18 clothes and I am only fourteen, I don't dare weight myself because it only ever goes up not down. My family are going on holiday to Mallorca in August and I will have to wear a swimsuit, and I am dreading it. I think people are laughing at me all the time, even my friends, or else pitying me maybe. I hate my life.

Summer says:
Being overweight is not easy, because yes, teenagers are very judgemental and the newspapers and magazines are always passing mean comments on how fat/how scrawny a certain celeb is looking. In a world full of pouting selfies and clingy fashions, it is not easy to be bigger than average. You say you hate the summer and hate your life, but you don't say what you plan to do about it... and the solution lies with you. I know you try to hide away in baggy layers and feel scared of the swimming pool and anxious about what your friends may think... and I suspect this low self esteem has stopped you from exercising and perhaps even driven you to comfort eat. I am guessing here, but I know from experience that unhappiness and poor body confidence can drive you to very damaging eating habits. I think a chat with your doctor may be a good starting point. You can establish whether you are overweight and if so, how best to tackle it. You could choose to stop dreading the summer and make it a time for you to change things for the better - whether that is about losing weight or just about getting fit and boosting confidence. Getting fit is basic... find an exercise you like and try to do a little every day, whether it's cycling, walking, aerobics, dance, kick-boxing, yoga or something else! Even the local pool is often quiet early in the morning. Next, cut out any junk foods you may be snacking on - crisps, chocolate, sweets, pop. You'll feel better for it. Buy some clothes that flatter your shape and keep you cool in the sun... and focus on building up that wobbly self-esteem. Cathy Cassidy's book LETTERS TO CATHY has some great chapters on confidence that can genuinely turn things around for you. It's time to be your own best friend and not your own worst enemy, because underneath all the uncertainty and self-loathing you are actually pretty amazing. Wishing you loads of luck... you can do it, I promise.

Cathy says:
I like Summer's emphasis on confidence and fitness here... once Lindsey gets those two things working for her, the rest will hopefully follow. Have YOU ever struggled with weight and/or confidence? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 13 June 2016

YOUR STARS FOR JUNE...

Skye Tanberry gets out her crystal ball and makes some predictions for June... will YOUR horoscope ring true? Read on and see!

ARIES:
There's so much going on right now, you're feeling a bit overwhelmed... rather than let things get out of hand, tackle the issues and tasks one at a time and slowly you will regain control. A surprise is just around the corner... perhaps linked to your crush?

TAURUS:
After a while of being skint, things are looking up a little money-wise... and that may lead to an exciting opportunity later in the month. If you get the chance of adventure or fun, take it - that's what summer is all about!

GEMINI:
You are in demand this month... enjoy the popularity, but don't forget your real friends who may be staying under the radar! This is a great time to make any style changes you've been planning to, or to put big hopes and dreams into action. The future is yours to create!

CANCER:
June is a time of reflection for you, but don't look back and idealise the past so much that you forget to live in the present. Fun, friendship, family support and possible romance are all around you... open your eyes and connect with it while you can!

LEO:
This month it's all about friendship... and the kind of good times that will stay with you forever. Plan fun get togethers and maximise the feel-good vibe. This could be an exceptional summer for you if you let yourself enjoy new opportunities and adventures!

VIRGO:
Behind the scenes, someone is quietly on your side - a teacher, a parent, maybe even a friend. They are quietly speaking up for you and as a result, doors are opening which could bring exciting chances your way very soon. Kind of awesome!

LIBRA:
When did you last tidy your room? I'm not kidding, this is a brilliant time for clearing out your clutter and making a fresh start... it's a great way to get rid of what no longer fits in with your life and make room for what really matters. With clothes, with books, with dreams... with life!

SCORPIO:
You're in panic mode just now... and though all that nervous energy makes you feel like you're doing lots, slowing down might be more effective in the long run. Don't be distracted... slow down, relax and plan. You'll get a LOT more done!

SAGITTARIUS:
Life has turned upside-down - in a GOOD way - for you recently, but have you stopped to enjoy the changes? Time to factor in some time with friends to actually enjoy everything you've been working so hard for.

CAPRICORN:
If you've been crushing on someone out of reach, it may be time to re-think - perhaps someone much closer to you could be the one you're looking for! If romance is not on the cards right now, have fun with friends and family... they're less likely to let you down!

AQUARIUS:
There are times when all you want to do is curl up with a good book and escape into a different world... one that's a whole lot less complicated than the real world! Now is not the time to hide away, though - new friendships and opportunities are there for you if you're willing to take them.

PISCES:
You're full of creative ideas, and now is a great time to make them happen... your work will bring you satisfaction and may also attract the interest of others. Let your imagination go wild... it can take you to places you have never even dreamed of!

Cathy says:
My horoscope is looking intriguing this month... how about yours? Do Skye's predictions make sense to YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 12 June 2016

WINNIE: DARK CLOUDS...

Reader Winnie talks about the struggle of battling depression while also being a Young Carer for her mother...

Winnie says:
A while ago I got very depressed. I have a skin condition and at one point it got a whole lot worse and I was in hospital so they could sort it out. Things just seemed too much to handle and I fell into a depression that lasted quite a while. It was like dark clouds had gathered and they were all I could see. Nothing could make me smile and I had a lot of bad thoughts about not wanting to be there any more. I tried to pretend I was OK, so nobody around me guessed how I was feeling, but in the hospital a psychologist began asking me questions and encouraging me to talk about my feelings, and that was hard because I am not big on talking about my feelings! Eventually my skin began to improve and my mood did too, and I felt that things were starting to slot back into place.

As well as having depression of my own to contend with, my mum has a mental health condition called Borderline Personality Disorder... she'd been diagnosed for a while but was only told a couple of years ago. Basically, it means her moods can snap instantly from one to another without warning. I'd been caring for her without realising it for a long time, being her emotional support, but only when my own mental health began to suffer was I referred to a Young Carers group who offered me support and information about my mum's condition. I also met other Young Carers and knew I wasn't alone. I have an outlet now to go out and have fun, with people who understand what my home life is like because they are in a similar situation too. My mum feels better too knowing that I have some support - the Young carers group have been a huge help to us both in so many different ways.

There is still a stigma attached to mental health issues, but there shouldn't be - these things should be spoken about openly, as they are nothing to be ashamed of. Most of us struggle with something like this at least once in our lives and if you are feeling down or having bad thoughts about living, please tell someone, whether it be a friend, a teacher, a family member or a doctor. Never worry about being judged. Who cares? Well, more people than you might think. No matter how bad things seem, there are many people around you that love and care about you - but they cannot help unless you open up about how you are feeling.

Fabulous photograph by reader Matilda... thank you so much!

Cathy says:
A powerful and searingly honest post from Winnie... well done. Have YOU ever felt out of your depth while coping with life's stresses, or caring for people in your family? COMMENT BELOW to have your say, or to comment on Winnie's post.

Friday, 10 June 2016

COVER STORIES... FRENCH READERS HAVE THEIR SAY!

I asked some of my awesome French readers which cover designs they like most on my Chocolate Box Girls series, the French or the British... this is what they said!

Manon says:
Cathy Cassidy's series, LES FILLES AU CHOCOLAT, is awesome! I like the UK covers, but I prefer the French covers overall. because of the cupcakes and the various little details about the book's characters in each design. The books have many characters but the descriptions are detailed and it is always easy to understand. At the end of the story everyone is happy and I love when it ends like this! I liked the concept of attributing a book to each character. This series made me dream... the series is my favourite amongst all of the books I have read in my life. I wish that the series would go on forever!

Anaïs says:
I had been wondering why the covers of the books are different in France and in the UK. I messaged to ask Cathy and she said that French readers like different styles and images... the French publisher wanted the book to look right for French readers. Although I like the original covers also, I like the french ones best. There are little iced cupcakes on all of the covers and they look delicious! The title lettering is beautiful and even the backs of the books look good!


Marie says:
Personally, I too prefer the French covers! I think they are most cheerful and the cupcakes represent the tastes of each character. I am so sad that the series is over because I have become very attached to the characters. I would like to know what they go on to do and be.I want to know if Summer gets properly better and if Honey finds a better place in her family. I love Cathy Cassidy's books and have read each one three times... I hope there will be more books to come, even if they are not in the FILLES AU CHOCOLAT series!

Cathy says:
I love both the Uk and the French covers, even though they are very different. I love the 'hand-drawn' quirkiness of the UK covers, but the French ones are very cool and sophisticated, I admit! Which ones do YOU like best, the French or the British? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

BLUE SKY THINKING...

Reader Shriya writes about dreams... will they come true? Well, who knows... but who doesn't like a bit of blue sky thinking?

Shriya says:
Dreams... how awesome it is to dream! When we're dreaming about being an artist or saving the world or something cool like that, we are in complete bliss, aren't we? We can imagine ANYTHING on earth and we can live that dream, Nobody can take away our right to dream!

I dream of owning my own place. I dream of volunteering for ChildLine. I dream of having a boyfriend. And to eat a lot and still stay skinny! And be an artist. Or a doctor. Or an author. I dream of travelling to lots of different countries. Of being a singer. And fostering kids. And being really, really beautiful.

I dream of dancing in the rain. And of watching a hailstorm. And of seeing the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. I dream of having a sleepover with a bunch of friends and laughing my heart out all night. I dream of eating all the lovely cakes Cathy posts on Facebook. I dream of running and yelling really loudly. I dream of getting full marks in all of my exams.

I don't know how many of these dreams will come true, but this is blue sky thinking... there is no limit, with dreams. And surely, some of them will! If they don't... well, I'll just have to dream up something else!

Fab photo by reader Deborah... many thanks!

Cathy says:
I love this post - I am very fond of dreams myself, as you know! What are YOUR hopes and dreams? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

LIA: I'M SCARED OF LOSING MY FRIENDS...

It's problem page time again and reader Lia is stressed out about tests and secondary school... can Cherry Costello help her to get things in perspective?

Lia says:
In a few weeks, my friends and I will be taking tests to see if we will be selected for a particular secondary school our parents all want us to attend. I study hard, but I worry that I am not as smart as my friends and I think that they will get in and I won't, and I will have to go somewhere else. I cry a lot about this and I'm feeling so low about it. My friends know how I feel but they don't understand what it's like. I just know they'll all get in and their friendship will be closer than ever, and I won't and I will have to make new friends and it won't be the same. I'm so scared of the future... it doesn't look good.

Cherry says:
I am not a fan of selective tests, because they don't test all of a person's qualities... and those who do less well than others can end up feeling like failures, which is NOT what they are at all. Are your parents and/or teachers concerned about the tests? Have you had private tutoring or extra help? Do others feel confident you will pass and get into your preferred choice of school? I cannot predict how things will turn out, but I do know that if you change your attitude to one of positivity your chances of success in whatever comes next will be far greater. Expecting the worst often means we get just that. I understand how worrying it can feel to start at a new school where you know nobody... this happened to me when I moved to Tanglewood. I am naturally quite shy but I DID make new friends and you can too. Change is not always something to fear - in fact, it's an essential part of growing up, and life does throw us challenges along the way. Learning to handle them and do our best in every situation is what matters. Whatever happens, you are NOT a failure, and your future can and should be wonderful. Please talk to your parents and let them know how stressed you are feeling, and get some support and reassurance. And be kind to yourself - you are way more awesome than you know!

Cathy says:
Good advice from Cherry... have YOU ever stressed over an important test or exam, or had to start a new school from scratch? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 6 June 2016

MORE CC READERS AROUND THE WORLD...

We catch up with more overseas readers who are just as crazy about CC books as readers in the UK! Take a peek...
Liliana says:
I am French and I love Cathy's books LES FILLES AUX CHOCOLATS. I am reading COEUR VANILLE - Honey and Summer are my favourite characters. I have started writing my own stories inspired by Cathy's writing style and I dream of becoming an author. Cathy Cassidy is my favourite writer - I love all the books! I enjoy reading the DREAMCATCHER blog and I would love to meet Cathy and ask some questions of my own about the books!

Hannah says:
I come from Singapore and I first started reading Cathy's books when I was around nine. SCARLETT was the first book I picked up... the cover was so pretty. I was amazed when I finished as I hadn't expected to enjoy it so much! I went on to read all the books and get excited to this day when a new book appears on the shelves. I'm sixteen and we have moved house a few times recently, but we're settled again now. I went to collect a box of my things stored at a friend's house and found my books again... I picked up GINGERSNAPS and I was pulled in completely once more. There is something so very magical about these books! I'm now tutoring a young girl in her English and have given her some Cathy Cassidy books to read... she is loving them too! I'm teaching her English and also helping her to find some very cool stories!

Ioana says:
I come from Romania, where Cathy Cassidy books are really famous. I am addicted to the books! My best friend is addicted to the series also, and she first gave me the books to read. I have read three of the Chocolate Box Girls series so far, and will read the rest as soon as I can. My favourite book so far is Cherry Crush, because Cherry is like me... I mean exactly like me! I also love the romance between Cherry and Shay. I really want to be like Cathy Cassidy when I am older, and already I am writing books. They are not yet good enough as I am only thirteen but it's a start!

Cathy says:
I love hearing from my readers all around the world... it's pretty awesome! Are YOU a CC reader from outside the UK? COMMENT BELOW if you'd like to feature on DREAMCATCHER too!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

I LOVED BROKEN HEART CLUB BECAUSE...

Readers share their feedback on BROKEN HEART CLUB... have YOU read it yet?

Elizabeth says:
I absolutely loved reading BROKEN HEART CLUB... it's my new favourite. I love the way Cathy switched between Ryan's perspective and Eden's, and the twist at the end was amazing. I loved the way the whole story built up to finally reveal everything that happened during the friends' last summer together...

Kira says:
BROKEN HEART CLUB is an amazing book with so many twists and turns you won't be able to put it down. It is my fave CC book ever, and I have read a LOT of CC books! I was reading this book in school and got told off for not listening and reading when I shouldn't have been - I couldn't help it though. I read the whole thing in two days and I've read it twice more since then... love it!

Evie says:
I had never read a Cathy Cassidy book before but this was given to me and I was gripped from page one. The characters seemed so real that I felt as if I knew them, and that I was going through all the emotional ups and downs with them. There is a huge twist in the tail of this book that changes everything, and I am not ashamed to say I cried... I can't remember a book having such a huge impact on me before. I now plan to read every single book that Cathy has written, which should keep me busy for a while, right?

Sumisha says:
BROKEN HEART CLUB is my new favourite book ever. I love emotional YA type books and this one was just incredible, so believable and so heartbreaking. No spoilers, but there is a massive secret folded into the story and once you get to the end you have to go back and read it again just to see it from that different point of view. I have had the book for three weeks and I've now read it four times... you could say I'm obsessed!

Laura says:
I really identified with this book as my friendships changed when I went to secondary school too. This was such a bittersweet read and I had this sense of something beneath the surface all the time I was reading it. Then at the end everything fell into place and I was just amazed really. The story has stayed in my mind ever since and I keep finding more things to think about, more layers of meaning. I have been going on about BROKEN HEART CLUB to my friends and most of them have read it now, even those who hadn't read Cathy Cassidy books before. There are a lot of fans of this book in my school!

Carine says:
I got a signed copy of this book and met Cathy, and it was the first time I had read her books. This is now my favourite book ever. I love it because it is so full of feelings and you get to see things from different points of view and you can piece the whole picture together which was magical. I could not put the book down. I even cried at the end... what a plot twist. And I fell in love with Ryan. I've read BROKEN HEART CLUB two more times since then and I am now determined to read every book Cathy Cassidy has written. #fangirl

Maggi says:
I loved BROKEN HEART CLUB. There were so many clever, heartfelt threads running through the story, like the paper cranes Eden makes to try to make her wish come true. I loved the idea and I went to the CC website to find out about the Sadako legend and how to make paper cranes. I have read a lot of CC books but this one was the best of all, just wow. I give it a hundred stars out of five!

Cathy says:
Awww... thank you guys! (***Blushes!***) Have YOU read BROKEN HEART CLUB yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

SOPHIA: #THIS IS ME

Reader Sophia has something pretty amazing to say about self esteem... and why it seems to be falling through our fingers.

Sophia says:
I've been thinking of saying something for a little while now. I've been wondering how to say it. It worries me when you post a selfie on Instagram and then comment underneath, 'Sorry, will delete this later.' In real life, would you move your hair out of your face when talking to a friend and then say, 'Sorry, I will put this away later.' I hope your answer is no. The need for us to let other users of social media know that we are not cocky but instead shy is just knocking down our own self esteem. We built up the foundations of this self esteem as children... we said we were the best at everything, we sang even if our voices were bad. We didn't doubt ourselves. And then we grew out of this natural self esteem, felt naive to ever have believed it. We felt bad, but it's not cocky, selfish or egoistic to believe in ourselves, it just shows that we love our mind, body, soul, and that's OK.

I thought I was pretty grounded in myself. I don't purposely wear make up because I think I am ugly but because it lightens my eyes. I don't run round the house looking for the bets lighting to take a picture. However, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and I saw forms for selections. And if you don't know what that is, it's an online version of the Selection series by author Kiera Cass. Basically, it's like The Bachelor but with a prince. You send in your form, including a picture and information about the character you are going to role play. What I saw was that all of the images were of celebrities and models. I did it too. I subconsciously thought that I just wasn't pretty enough to use a picture of myself. we are all doing it - using people that we think define 'beauty' for these things. We don't realise that we are also beautiful and worthy of that spot we've set aside for celebrities. Why is it so easy to tell someone else they are beautiful, yet so hard to tell the person you see in the mirror every day? Why deny yourself a little love?

You are enough, you are beautiful and you need to believe it. When your friend changes her profile picture you don't hesitate to say she looks beautiful. So when you look in the mirror, try imagining you are looking at your identical twin. What would you say? A teacher once told me I was 'God's treasure'. No matter what your religion may be, or even if you don't believe in a god at all, you ARE God's treasure. That for me is enough to love myself, and that is enough for me to show you who I am. Who I really am. All you have to do is unlock the chest and you will realise how much treasure is inside of you! Once you do, I hope that I will get to see who YOU are! I hope that we all do, then we can all stand together, beautifully and wonderfully made.

Cathy says:
Wow... awesome words and loads to think about here... because we all do this, don't we? Worry about how others may see and judge us? If YOU are brave enough to share a picture or collage of the 'real you', post it onto your Facebook page, onto Instagram, Twitter or any social media with the tag #ThisIsMe. Do you dare? COMMENT BELOW and tell us if you will!

Friday, 3 June 2016

THE FIRST CC BOOK I EVER READ...

We asked CC readers to tell us about the very first CC book they ever read... and what it meant to them. Here's what they said!

Niamh says:
The first CC book I read was MARSHMAL-
LOW SKYE, from my school book fair I think! The cover was beautiful and I loved the title so I bought it, unaware that it was the second in a series. I adored it. I related a lot to Skye and it sparked my interest in vintage. I've read it from cover to cover so many times I've lost count! I love Skye's uniqueness... she's quiet and avoids conflict but she is always true to herself! This book made me collect the whole CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series and I've been lucky enough to be a 'chocolate fairy' helper at Cathy's book signings on several occasions!

Slaney says:
I read INDIGO BLUE when I was quite young, but the one that really got me hooked was CHERRY CRUSH. It was the start of my love for CC books, and I own most of them now.

Sophie says:
My first CC book was a signed copy of INDIGO BLUE, bought from the craft shop just down the hill from Cathy's old cottage in Galloway. It meant a lot to me. I'd never read anything like it before, a reality story, something that I could imagine happening to me rather than the pony adventure stories I used to read and then forget. I was nine or ten then, in 2012n  and I've been hooked ever since!

Georgie says:
SUNDAE GIRL was my first CC book, the story of Jude who lives with her alcoholic mum and her grandparents. I was in Year 8 and I wasn't reading much, nothing seemed to interest me and then I found this book. I've been addicted ever since. Cathy's books have given me confidence and the encouragement to try new things, which is a big thing for me as I have autism. I think Cathy is the best!

Beth says:
SCARLETT was my first CC book... my sister said she thought I'd like it, and she was right! I read it in a day and that was that, I was hooked and had to read all the others too!

Jess says:
DIZZY was the first CC book I read, back when i was ten. Since then I've re-read it so many times! Sharing a love of music and festivals (and boys!) I feel a real connection with Dizzy. The book is what sparked my love of VW camper vans, too, decorated with dreamcatchers and flowers!

Leanne says: 
The first CC book I ever read was SUMMER'S DREAM. I love this book as it reminds me of myself - I was very ill in high school and was being bullied. I also love ballet, although I don't take lessons... maybe one day!

Amber says:
The first CC book I read was LETTERS TO CATHY, which I bought a few years ago when Cathy came to visit our primary school! It's one of Cathy's non-fiction books, inspired by her years as a teen mag agony aunt. I loved the book then and I still love it now - the whole concept is brilliant, and it's great for anyone who needs confidence.

Fab picture courtesy of book blogger Kym... follow her instagram feed on dandelion.i.love.youxx

Cathy says:
I LOVE these stories... aww! Which was the first CC book YOU ever read? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

SECRETS: A VINTAGE SCARF SUNTOP!

Reader Abigail made this awesome sun-top from one of the projects in my CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS book... read on and find out how she did it!

Abigail says:
Cathy's book CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS is a fun and crafty guide for arty, creative people. The book shows each of the five Tanberry-Costello sisters sharing their secrets on how to make cool clothes, food, presents and many other things mentioned in the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series. As each sister tells you how to make a particular project, you also get to know them a bit more and see all kinds of behind the scenes extras that feed into the series. This unique and practical book is a great way to find inspiration and lovely ideas for gifts, bakes, fashion makes... and much more! Definitely brilliant value for money!

When I purchased this book I was really happy with what I had bought. Pretty much straight away I knew I wanted to make Honey's summer top project, using a vintage scarf. It is a simple project but looks so effective... plus of course it is one of a kind , so nobody will have the same top... an idea I love! Now that the weather is hotting up I am hoping to wear it lots. It was a really fun project to work on, too!

Each project in the book - and there are LOADS - is collected into months and seasons of the year. In the winter section, there are lots of ideas for making Christmas presents for friends and family. One of the ones I tried was to make your own bath bombs - I did this project for my grandma for Christmas. It was really successful thanks to the easy step by step guide and she loved it.

The book is a pleasure to have and certainly fabulous to look at... the drawings are so cool and there are photos too so you know what your final project is supposed to look like! Lots of inspiration. CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS is a great addition to the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series... or a great introduction to it, if you haven't read the series yet! I rate it 10/10!

Cathy says:
Awww... this book was so much fun to write... I'm glad my readers are loving it so much! The book is a perfect buy for creative, arty, practical readers who are looking for something cool to keep them busy this summer. What are you waiting for? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

JESSICA: I'M STRUGGLING TO DECIDE...

It's problem page time on DREAMCATCHER once more and reader Jessica has a question for Skye Tanberry... read on and see what Skye has to say!

Jessica says:
Recently our teacher informed us that we have to make a personal project at school, and that we have three weeks to complete it. I want to do a project that links up my hobbies of vintage, history and daydreaming and the romantic love story of Clara from the book MARSHMALLOW SKYE was inspiring for me. I want to do something on the 1920s and wondered if I could actually make or create something, or just do a written project. I'm struggling to make a decision. What would you do, Skye? What form would you have your project take?

Skye says:
I wish Mr Wolfe, our history teacher, would set us something as cool as this! You could do something amazing with a 1920s flavour, and why not base it on Clara Travers and her story? Or invent a similar but fictional love story? You could recreate the love letters Clara wrote - you can scrumple plain paper up a bit to give it an aged look and soak it in a washing up bowl filled with cold tea (no milk!) to give it a stained, sepia appearance. Dry thoroughly and write the letters in fountain pen and find some vintage stamps to scan in for the envelopes. Tie the finished letters up with ribbon, and make a few photos of Clara (or whoever your character is going to be) to go with them. You can either pose for these pics yourself and print them out with sepia filters using Photoshop or Instagram, or use scans of genuine old photos. Lastly, you could add in an old embroidered shawl or a 1920s cloche hat and pack all of these around the letters, inside an old hatbox or a battered leather suitcase. You can make the shawl or the hat if you like, or adapt a charity shop find if that's easier. This is the kind of project I would LOVE... I hope you have fun with it, and remember to let me know how you get on!

Cathy says:
Like Skye, I am deeply envious of this project too... best of luck with it, Jessica! Have YOU ever had a big school project to complete? What ideas did you use? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!