Sunday, 20 August 2017

SARA: ON THE OUTSIDE

Reader Sara shares her story of being pushed out of a friendship group and finding herself on the outside looking in...

Sara says:
When Lucy joined our school halfway through Year Seven, everything changed. She was lively, fun, different to anyone else I knew, and she seemed to like me. Quickly, we became best friends and she joined my friendship group, where everyone else got on with her too. The first two months were great - I thought she was going to be my best friend for life, that she understood me totally and that I could trust her with anything. It all went wrong when I caught her stealing money from my mum's purse at a sleepover. Lucy was furious and tried to make out it wasn't what it looked like. She finally broke down and started crying, saying that money was tight at home and she was desperate. I ended up giving her some of my pocket money and I thought everything was OK, that we were closer than ever.

I was wrong. The next week at school, Lucy blanked me, and my other friends were acting strangely. I found out she'd told them I had stolen money from HER - and to my horror, people seemed to believe it. The people I had thought were my friends turned against me and suddenly I was on my own, with nobody to sit with in class or at lunch. It was a horrible feeling. I had always had friends before and never gave much thought to those who were on the outside - now I was finding out what it was like. Nobody from my old friendship group would listen or let me explain - they completely believed Lucy's version of events. I almost believed her myself, she acted the part of wronged, hurt friend so convincingly. Lucy was popular with the teachers too, and nobody seemed to think she was lying about it all.

For weeks I was miserable, pretending at home that everything was OK and trying to act like I didn't care at school. I knew Lucy had turned on me because I'd caught her out, and I thought that eventually she would show her true colours and that people would see her for what she was. I talked a bit to one old friend about this, but she seemed to think I was bitter and trying to blacken Lucy's name. Things changed when Mum noticed how low I was, and though I couldn't tell her what had happened I did say I'd fallen out with my friends. Mum wanted to come into school to talk to the teachers, but I couldn't bear that idea. In the end, she made an appointment at the grammar school in town, and after some discussion and a short test paper, I was offered a place there starting in Year Eight. I was so thankful - it felt like a fresh start, and that was what I needed by then.

I have new friends now, but I keep a part of myself back because I find it hard to trust people. I sometimes see Lucy and the others in town, and I wonder if she is still fooling everyone. It looks that way. I am happy now, but I wonder if I will ever really get over what happened. Sometimes, life really isn't fair.

Names have been changed to protect those involved.

Fab photos by reader Casey; posed by model Martha. Thank you both!

Cathy says:
Friendships can go badly wrong, and not everyone is as nice as they appear to be. Although I wish Sara had told her mum and teachers the truth about what happened, I am glad she got the fresh start she needed. Have YOU ever had a major fallout with a friend? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more...

Friday, 18 August 2017

CHARLOTTE: NEVER GIVE UP!

Reader Charlotte has some excellent advice on school, options and future careers... read on and make those choices wisely!

Charlotte says:
School can be a scary time. You're pressured to decide what to do with your entire future - and yet you might only be fourteen or even younger! You have to choose your GCSEs, your A levels or your college course, even whether you want to go to university or not. If you have no idea what you want to do, it can sometimes seem like you're being forces to decide right now. I am here to tell you (from experience) that it actually doesn't matter as much as some people make out. Let me explain!

When I chose my GCSEs and A levels, I didn't have a career in mind - I picked things I was interested in. Then, very quickly, I had to chose what I wanted to study at university. I knew I wanted to go - it had been my dream since I was fifteen - but I had no idea what to study! In the end, after debating what I felt most passionate about, I went to a lovely university near Liverpool to study Film and TV Production. I loved my time there, but I had a sinking feeling that I knew this wasn't what I wanted to do for a living. I worried that I'd wasted all my time and money on something I didn't want to do. What if I never found something I was truly good at?

So I started thinking about what I was good at. I began writing my blog in 2015 and I loved every second! It became my biggest hobby and I realised that my passion was in blogging an social media. Did you know you can actually get paid to manage other people's media, like Twitter and Instagram? You totally can! I now work as a Virtual assistant, which is a fancy name for someone who does all sorts of online jobs for people. It can include writing social media posts and articles, creating images to share, editing videos and even building websites. It's so much fun, and I can't imagine doing anything else. I work with the best team, and the even better thing is that I work from the comfort of my own warm, cosy home!

All through school and all the way up until only this year, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Now, not even a year later, I couldn't be happier that things have worked out the way they have! When I was in school. I had no idea this is what I'd end up doing... but now all the worrying I did in school is forgotten!

So, what's the moral of this story? Don't give up. And most of all, please don't worry.You'll find your passion one day, whatever you decide to study in school!

Blog - https://wonderfullybookish.co.uk
Facebook - facebook.com/wonderfullybookish
Twitter - twitter.com/wbookishblog

Cathy says:
I love this post - it's so, so true! Few people know exactly what their path in life should be to begin with... and it's never too late to change tack! Do YOU know which career path you want to follow? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

KRISS: SAVE OUR ENDANGERED SPECIES!

Reader Kriss is so concerned about the plight of endangered species she is campaigning to raise awareness...

Kriss says:
Did you know that the Northern White Rhino is extinct in the wild and that only a few survive in captivity? That Polar Bears are endangered because of melting polar ice caps due to climate change? That elephants are hunted for their ivory tusks and have lost much of their natural habitat as humans build more towns and villages? That tigers are poached for their skins and parts that are used as folk medicine on the black market? That whales are still hunted for meat and for so-called scientific purposes, and that the pollution of our oceans threatens many species? That only 1,864 Giant Pandas exist in the wild?

Did you know that wolves once roamed through Britain and have been made extinct here? Luckily they still survive in some parts of Europe, but for some animals the picture is not so hopeful. Many of the animals that make our world so diverse and beautiful are on the verge of extinction because of human greed, pollution, habitat loss and global warming, and once they are gone they can never be brought back. In my lifetime, we could see the extinction of the Sumatran Elephant, the Leatherback Turtle, the Pangolin, the Western Lowland Gorilla, The Orangutan, the Amur Leopard and many more. All because humans cannot look after the planet and protect the environment, because we take what we want without a thought for other creatures and cause so much damage we put lives at risk. When I realised that one day the Orangutan or the Giant Panda could be gone, I was very sad. I wanted to change things, and I started to try to raise awareness.

I started by copying Coco Tanberry's idea of a panda cake sale from COCO CARAMEL, and it went well, and a teacher talked to me about it and together we set up a lunchtime club at school called ANIMAL ALERT. There are a lot of members now, from all the years in the school, and our school collects bottle tops to help gorillas, and raise money for various conservation charities. We recently banned straws in the school canteen and got many cafes in town to stop using them because they pollute the sea and harm seabirds and turtles. We often don't realise that seemingly harmless things like a plastic drinking straw or the plastic that keeps a multipack of tins together or even a carrier bag are dangerous and often find their way into the sea or are discarded and picked up by animals who then drown, starve or suffocate. This September our club is doing a weekend litter pick at the seaside town twenty miles from here, and we have done several inland ones as well. We all tell our families to use less plastic and try to explain why it matters by having school assemblies about the subject.

It might not seem much but in just three years we have changed things quite a lot in our school and made people more aware of things. I will be going into Year Twelve in September and I am thinking ahead to university, where I want to study Environmental Conservation so that I can do more to help endangered animals and one of my friends from the club is hoping to study Marine Conservation. Bit by bit, we can change the world if we only care enough to try. I do - do you?

Artwork: Amur Leopard and wolf drawn by the very talented Oskar Eriksson-Lee. Thank you!

Cathy says:
I have huge admiration for Kriss and her friends, as they are making small but important changes in the world around them... I wish Kriss the best of luck in her chosen career. Do YOU care enough about animals to give up using plastic or work to help them? Is there another issue you care strongly about and want to see featured on DREAMCATCHER? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

NINA: ARE MY PARENTS SPLITTING UP?

It's agony aunt time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Nina is worrying about her parents in today's problem letter. Can Summer Tanberry help?

Nina says:
My parents have been going through a bad patch recently and arguing a bit when they think nobody is listening. Now Dad has said he isn't coming on holiday with us because he needs his own 'space'. We always go away to a caravan site in Scotland with my aunt and her family, and Dad has never stayed home before. I am really scared they will split up and don't know what to do.

Summer says:
You've picked up on the tension in your parents' relationship, but don't jump to conclusions. Work, money, health or family worries could all be part of this, and you dad may need to stay at home for any number of reasons. It's difficult to come right out and ask what's wrong, but unless you do you will go on assuming the worst. Find a quiet time to talk to your parents and see what is going on. It's possible they are under strain, and that a break may be what they need right now. It's even possible that they may separate or divorce, and although I know that sounds scary it can sometimes be the best thing, as it was for my mum and dad in the end. I do know one thing, and that's that everything feels worse when you don't know the facts. Get talking and get the reassurance you need.

Cathy says:
Summer is spot on with this advice - Nina must confide in her parents and get the full picture, whatever that may be. What advice would YOU give to Nina? Post your COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 14 August 2017

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Readers share their happy holiday memories to get you in the mood for a sizzling summer!

Kerry says:
My best ever holiday was in Greece, Corfu. It was three years ago and I remember it because all of my family went, my grandparents on both sides, my aunt and her family, my uncle and his new girlfriend, my cousins and us of course. We stayed in two big villas with a pool that was just for us, and we took boat trips and went on visits to the towns and to historical ruins, but most of the time we just chilled on the beach or by the pool and had huge family dinners at the nearby tavernas in the evening. One of my grandparents has died since and my aunt has been ill, but on the plus side my uncle got married and has a new baby now. I don't think there will ever be another holiday quite like that one, but life doesn't stay the same, it moves on and changes. But we will have that memory forever, and I am glad of that!

Leanne says:
My mum and sister and I went on holiday to Lanzarote and loved it! We went to a place called Rancho Texas which has a 'Western' theme with lots of cowboy activities. You can eat food that fits the theme and learn lassoo skills... we got dragged along the floor at one point but it was so much fun! They had tepees and horses you could ride... it was just amazing!

Jess says:
I've had lots of great holidays but last year I went on a music tour to the Rhine Valley and that's the one that stands out right now! We had the chance to sing as part of a school chamber choir in Cologne Cathedral... wow! I'll never forget the impromptu performance of Locus Iste in an old wine cellar at Scloss Rheinfels, or the views from the fortress at Koblenz, which were spectacular. The socialising was the best bit of all... all of us, year sevens up to my year, twelve, felt like one big family by the end of the trip. Unforgettable!

Holly says:
We first went to Dumfries and Galloway in 2010 and stayed on a farm. My sister and I helped to collect the eggs, feed the lambs, visit the calf shed and groom the ponies. It was Scotland, but this area has it's own microclimate so it wasn't too cold and the sun shone! It was definitely the best holiday ever, and we've been back three times since!

Grace says:
Most memorable holiday? Hmmm! We went to Haggiston Castle and stayed in a caravan... it rained a lot and a little Scottish lass from the caravan next door woke us all up by knocking on the door at 7am to introduce herself and to challenge me and my brother Jack to a water fight!

Val says:
One lovely childhood memory is a holiday in Ireland with my mum, my brother and our two sisters while Dad stayed at home to work. We went on the ferry and it was a long, rough crossing - I was just three at the time but remember it so clearly! We returned again when I was seven and I remember my grandparents' garden, haystacks, home grown fruit, bats at night, mass on Sundays and Mum crying when it was time to come home again. We visited again when I was fourteen, but by then my grandma had died and my grandpa was very ill. It was a chance to say goodbye. We never visited again, although we still have relatives in Ireland... my mum won't return, but I don't know why.

Chloe says:
We went to Spain a couple of years ago and loved it... this year we're going to one of the Spanish islands and I can't wait!

Cathy says:
Holiday memories are so lovely... they bring back the happiest times! Which holidays do YOU remember with affection? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

JODIE: INTO THE FUTURE...

Reader Jodie shares her hopes, fears and dreams about the future in this brave and poignant blog post...

Jodie says:
I have just finished Year Eleven. I was there for the last day, when my classmates threw flour and eggs (it wasn't allowed but the teachers weren't too angry about it) and everyone signed each other's school shirts. I was there, but a part of me felt I was watching it all from a distance, as if I was behind a glass wall. One of my friends threw her shirt in the bin that night, but I will keep mine forever because I want to remember the last five years at secondary school. I didn't realise it at the time, but they were very happy ones.

Next term my friends will be doing different things. Some will be going to the local sixth form college, some staying at school to study A levels, some going to specialist colleges locally to study art, drama, animal care, childcare, all kinds of things. Some will be starting work. It feels like a turning point, a crossroads in life, but no matter how hard I look I cannot see the future. I cannot work out where I will be or what I'll be doing, even though I've had dreams of studying music at A level and taking it further at university for as long as I can remember.

Suddenly, all that is up in the air and even the ground beneath my feet seems to shift. I can't be sure of anything, except that my exam results will not be good enough to stay on at school or take A levels. I missed four of my GCSEs because my anxiety was so bad, and though I sat the others I know I was so eaten up by worry and fear my grades will be poor. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety a year ago, and in that time I have gone from high-achieving A grade student to someone who can't even make it into school most days. When I look into the mirror I don't even recognise myself. I do not like what I see and there is no point in applying for courses right now because I don't think I could handle them. This makes me so sad.

What will my future bring? I used to think it would take me forward to fame and fortune, or at least a career as a musician. Now I just hope my tablets work and my therapy helps and the depression and anxiety that sabotages my life will fade away like a bad memory and give me my life back again. My ambition is much simpler now. I want to pull the fear and self-loathing out of my soul and throw it away, burn it in a fire, drop it into the deepest part of the ocean. I want to be me again. I want to be free.

Awesome photo by talented reader Ribh - many thanks!

Cathy says:
This is such a brave post... Jodie's honesty about her illness shows just how damaging depression and anxiety can be. Have YOU ever struggled with mental health issues? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Friday, 11 August 2017

EMMA: LESSONS FROM FAIRY TALES

Can 'Once Upon A Time' apply to real life too? Blogger Emma takes a fresh look at fairy tales and what they have to teach us...

Emma says:
Fairy tales get a bad reputation. There have been claims they are 'unrealistic' and give young children a warped view of life, that fairy tales have nothing beneficial to teach the next generation and that they will only set them up for failure with that message of 'happy ever after'. However, reading these stories ten years on, I find that now I get a different message. Being older and more analytical, I have a less rose-tinted perspective. Looking at those classic fairy tales now, I see a message of empowerment with lessons that would only have a beneficial effect on generations to come.

Belle: If Belle teaches us anything, it's to think with our mind and not our eyes. Judging from appearances, the Beast seems emotionless and intimidating, more than enough for anyone to refuse to give him a chance. However, Belle decides to be a diamond in a world full of rhinestones and gives him a chance and can famously 'see the man behind the beast'. A man who turns out to be gentle, loving and unfairly written off. It's a well needed reminder not to judge a book by its cover and to make your own mind up about people. Outer Beauty is said to be 'skin deep' for a reason!

Cinderella: Cinderella shows us that good things come to those who work for them and never give up. The fairy godmother din not choose Cinderella at random - she gave her the break she needed because her work ethic combined with her belief that 'if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true,' didn't just mean that Cinderella deserved it, it meant she had earned it.

Rapunzel: Rapunzel's story teaches us that no matter how impossible a situation seems, there is always a way out. This heroine was isolated and cut off from the world and no way out seemed plausible. However, by accepting help, Rapunzel came to see that she had the answer all along (ie, her hair!). It just took a different perspective and a bit of creativity to see it. This take personally reminds me that when you cannot think of an answer inside the box, think outside of it, get inventive and try again. If there is a way in, there is always a way out!

In conclusion, the chances are that a fairy godmother won't appear with a magic wand. You may not wake up with the ability to communicate with animals. In my opinion, these are just colourful ways to grab the attention of the reader and draw them into the story, so that the life lessons these tales carry don't sound like just another lecture on what is right and wrong. We remember fairy tales throughout the course of our whole lives, and what they teach us and the fact that they slip in a bit of magic here and there, makes these lessons more memorable and adds a little sparkle to our everyday lives!

Cathy says:
I love Emma's re-interpretation of these famous fairy tales... how cool! I'm a big fan of fairy tales... I think Red Riding Hood is probably my favourite - what's YOURS? Just COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

READERS AROUND THE WORLD...

Another round-up of cool CC readers from around the world... take a peek!


Jemma says:
I am Jemma, I'm twelve years old and I live with my family in Papamoa, New Zealand! I love, love, LOVE CC books! I have just finished BROKEN HEART CLUB and it is so amazing. My heart was beating so fast at the dramatic bits and almost cried at the end. There were so many things about the book I loved - and that goes for all the others too! SWEET HONEY is one of my favourites, and I did end up crying in that one; LOOKING GLASS GIRL was the first one I read and it is still a favourite. I was sorry to miss out on the MY BEST FRIEND ROCKS comp for 2016, but I'm going to give a shout out to my two best friends anyway... their names are Eden and Elyssa. They are so awesome and I don't know who I would be or what I would do without them!

Jade says:
I live in Canada and my first language is French... I read Cathy Cassidy books translated into French and am a huge fan of them all. I first found the series FILLES AUX CHOCOLAT (Chocolate Box Girls) thanks to one of my friends, and I began to read them. I have read the whole series one by one, and so far my favourite book is COEUR VANILLE (Sweet Honey). I like the book because it is really cool and believable. This book is real - there are so many books that are not realistic out there, but these, they are situations that can happen in real life. I love the books, they are the best!

Bhavya says:
I have travelled a lot in my life and lived in United Arab Emirates for a while, and now I am living in India. I first came across Cathy Cassidy books during a book sale at school, and thought they looked interesting. I decided to give them a try. I can relate to the books - one way or another, they always seem to link to my life! I never get tired of them, even though I must have read them like fifty times over! I love them all, but COCO CARAMEL is my favourite - and Coco Tanberry is the character I most identify with, too. I have the same madness for animals. I hate doing make up, hate boys and I love climbing trees and walking on beaches! I dream of being a writer, but perhaps writing is not really my thing - reading definitely is!

Cathy says:
What a fascinating post - it's great to 'meet' my readers from all around the world, even if just on DREAMCATCHER! Do YOU live outside the UK? Would YOU like to be featured in a post like this? Just COMMENT BELOW and email me via the EMAIL CATHY link over on www.cathycassidy.com

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

PRIYA: IS THIS A CRUSH?

It's agony aunt time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Priya has a question for HONEY TANBERRY to solve...

Priya says:
I don't know if you will take this seriously but I have fallen in love with a boy who has a summer job at a shop near to my house. I am there most days buying things for my mum, and he is so sweet and friendly I have fallen head over heels. I dream about him at night and think about him all day, and when I see him, I go all shy which is not me at all. I don't think this is a crush, but how can I make him feel the same? And if he did ask me out, what would I do, because my parents would never approve anyway!

Honey says:
You won't want to believe it, but this IS a crush - still, it's no less intense for all that. A crush can reach obsession levels, as you've found, but is is essentially a one-way thing, a dress rehearsal for real life love if you like. This boy is friendly and chatty, but you don't know much about him - his likes, dislikes, family, school, interests. Instead, your mind fills in the blanks and your imagination creates a fantasy romance too perfect to be real. You have pointed out that if he did ask you out, your parents would not approve, so you already know there is no future in this in the real world. Instead, enjoy the fantasy and practice your flirting and chatting skills with this boy if you want to! In time, the shine will wear off this crush and you'll move on, one day falling for someone you actually do know and can build a relationship with. Until then, what's the harm in dreaming?

Cathy says:
I agree with Honey, a crush can be very intense... but still, it's not real life love. What advice would YOU offer to Priya? Add your COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

CHLOE: WHAT IS A GIRL?

Reader Chloe has some thought-provoking questions to ask of you... a total must-read!

Chloe says:
So... what is a girl? Is it a gender? Is it simply a group of people who are all the same? That's for you to decide, but choose wisely I can assure you that there's a chance you'll change your mind by the end of this. There's this insult - I like to call it the 'like a girl' insult. Do you run 'like a girl?' Do you fight 'like a girl?' What's the first image that comes into your head when you are asked these questions? Cat fights? Skipping, stumbling, worrying if you've got sweat patches? Do you know that when you use this insult on someone between the ages of 10-16, their confidence could plummet? Do you know that when you use the term 'like a girl,' you could be offending not just one person but a whole group of people called females?

Currently, for girls everywhere, there is a certain image you must copy in order to be seen as 'normal'. You must be born female, have perfect hair, you must wear make up, you must wear the right clothes, the must have flawless skin and a flawless figure. In other words, you must be perfect. Well guess what, I'm not perfect, and I hate to break it to you, but you're not either. I know that sounds harsh, but I don't think of it that way because, as a matter of fact, I know what a girl is.

My question for you is how many times have people called you names or used the 'like a girl' insult on you? How many times has it brought you down? How many times has it made you feel hopeless and useless? Or like it's just not worth it anymore? Trust me, I've been there.

Now, what is a girl? Is it having pride in who you are? Is it doing stuff 'like a girl' and doing it proudly? Is it being so amazingly imperfect? Is it standing up for who we are as females in society? You chose, because you have the right to be the female you want to be, the female you choose. Remember, female has no figure, size, race, eye colour, hair, body. It's free for you to choose that and everything about you...

Chloe's piece was inspired by this amazing video clip... take a look!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

Cathy says:
I love this post, and the video clip is SO powerful too... would YOU like to make sure 'like a girl' is never an insult again? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

LUCIA: HOW CAN I GET MY POETRY PUBLISHED?

Reader Lucia has a dilemma... find out what options she has!

Lucia says:
I'm sixteen years old and love writing poetry - do you have any advice on how to get my work published? Would I be taken seriously? I suppose I'd need to make a portfolio of the best ones but I've no idea where or how to start, or who to show them to. Help, please?

I asked three poets to answer with suggestions for Lucia... Magi Gibson, a professional poet; Faye, a young poet who goes to regular poetry nights; and Jess, a young poet who has recently self-published her first book of poems.

Magi says:
Most poets start by getting poems published in magazines - there are both print and online mags, and poetry competitions too. Check out if there are online groups of poets in your area and link up with them - they can often recommend magazines, which will save you wading through so many yourself! Then read the guidelines, pluck up your courage and send in your poems. Don't worry about rejection - rejection is how we learn, but it's easier if you have some poetry buddies to share both successes and disappointments with!

Faye says:
I don't know much about publishing poetry but I do go to local poetry nights or poetry 'open mics'. This is a great way to build confidence and get yourself and your work out there - even if you just go along to listen until you find the courage to actually read out! When you hear the different poetry being read and the expressions put into it, it can spark new ideas or even a poem within you! Generally the poets are very encouraging and supportive of each other... I'd definitely advise any new poet to give it a go.

Jess says:
I've always loved creative writing but only recently begun writing poetry - the words seem to come more naturally and I enjoy playing around with different structures. Writing poetry has helped me with stress and anxiety and I decided to publish a selection of poems focusing on my experience of this to raise awareness of mental health struggles. I submitted my poems to a small, independent publisher but sadly received a rejection from them, albeit a positive one. I then decided to try Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and publish the collection myself to get the poems out there and remind myself not to stop dreaming! The hardest part was the formatting of the book - apart from that I just had to upload the Word document to KDP, using my Amazon account, and then preview it as it would appear on a Kindle, tablet or phone. It wasn't difficult at all. You can buy my collection of poems, Angel Awaiting, here.

For more advice, check out: https://poetrysociety.org.uk/young-poets/young-poetsnetwork/

Cathy says:
Great advice and lots of ideas for Lucia - I hope this helps her to make the first few steps to getting her poems out there! Remember there is a free poetry forum over on www.cathycassidy.com too, with some fab pieces. Are YOU a secret poet? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Friday, 4 August 2017

MORE LEXIE REVIEWS...

More readers share their verdict on new CC book LOVE FROM LEXIE - have YOU read it yet?

Cat says:
I absolutely adored this book. Plot twist after plot twist really engages the reader and take them on a journey about the power of friendship and discovering yourself - even when you feel too lost to be found. I especially enjoyed the fact that the plot covered a range of current issues close to my heart, such as local service closures and mental health to name just a few. I believe that reading should be a way to safely introduce young people to the problems faced by today's society and LOVE FROM LEXIE achieved this beautifully. A well deserved five stars for thus excellent book - I wait in anticipation for the next instalment of this series. I can't wait to see where the story takes us from here!

Marti says:
After the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS I was keen to read the first installation of CC's new series, THE LOST & FOUND. One of the things I loved most about LOVE FROM LEXIE is that it is universal - you don't have to be the 'target audience' (children/ YA) to understand the issues in the story. They are touched on with the kind of sensitivity and understanding that the world needs much more of! Lexie has been in care ever since her mum went missing, but although she loves her new foster parents and her foster sister Bex, she can't help but hold hem at arm's length in case her real mum comes back, With the help of Bex she sets up a group at the local library and the LOST & FOUND is born - but where does a band, a bunch of letters and the threat of library closures come into it? You'll have to pick the book up and find out yourself! Final thoughts? READ IT. Just read it!

Sophie says:
I got LOVE FROM LEXIE the day before it came out and I loved it from the very first paragraph. It's about a girl with a very sad past who ends up in foster care - Lexie decides to bring together others at school who might be feeling lost or alone, and creates a group. I loved this idea and related to it and wanted to see where it would go! I loved the different characters in the group and really wanted to hear THEIR stories too. Lexie forms a special bond with one band member and the book almost had me shouting advice at her - I had to keep reading and it turned out there was a huge plot twist coming that changed my opinion totally! The band decide to campaign to save the library where they practice, and end up setting up a music festival... I'd like to think it will inspire young people to re-create this cool idea! LOVE FROM LEXIE feels very different and unique and covers lots of different issues... I think it will help young people to be more accepting of everyone around them. LOVE FROM LEXIE celebrates diversity, individuality, music and of course libraries - I cannot wait to read more about Lexie's friends and find out what the LOST & FOUND group get up to next!

Cathy says:
Thank you Cat, Marti and Sophie! The reviews I'm getting are fab, and I appreciate the lovely feedback... LOVE FROM LEXIE needs to be on your summer reading list! COMMENT BELOW to add your own reviews!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

KRISSY: MY FAMILY ARGUE ALL THE TIME

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Krissy has a problem for Skye Tanberry to solve...

Krissy says:
We are only one week into the school holidays and I am counting down the days till we go back to school. My family argue and fight all the time. My parents snipe and row over the stupidest things and my sister and brother are even worse, calling names and being so spiteful and mean. I shut myself in my room most of the time and I'm dreading next week, when we go to Spain for a fortnight. It will be worse... and people will notice, because everyone else is happy on holiday and we're loud and embarrassing and argue all the time. Sometimes I wish I wasn't a part of this family at all.

Skye says:
Sometimes, a family gets into bad habits. Parents bicker (Mum and Dad did loads, before they broke up) and this unsettles everyone and brothers and sisters think it's OK to row and be mean too. It's not... and the love that connects you as a family is getting lost underneath it all. Some families are loud and dramatic, and that's OK, but the constant nastiness is not. Talk to your family person by person and explain how you feel and how much this drags you down. If even one of them shares your unhappiness about the situation, things can change. If you find they won't listen or don't care, you have no option but to find a safe space for yourself where you can zone out when things get bad. Your room can be a peaceful refuge, but activities like yoga, meditation, cycling, swimming, dancing, walking the dog, hanging out with friends and much more can also help you to cope. Something as simple as having a book in your bag can help on holiday... just walk away from the drama, settle down on the sand or in a quiet corner, and escape into the story. We cannot always change our family, but we can learn to cope with the difficult times and maintain a sense of calm inside ourselves. Good luck.

Cathy says:
As Skye suggests, there are no easy answers here, but techniques for coping can make all the difference. Krissy can also confide in a trusted teacher, relative or family friend if she needs extra support. What advice would YOU give? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

STARFISH

A beautiful seaside short story from fifteen year old reader Sarah...

I lie on the pebbly ground, watching the clouds float by... my favourite hobby. It used to be swimming in the sea, but I never really swam, I just lay on the surface and let the swishing waves carry me back and forth. The beach was always my favourite place in the world. I spend my days as a young one here, and somehow over time I learned to appreciate the wonders of nature. I never get tired of looking at the clouds. They help me to reflect, relax, look back on my life. Never had much opportunity to go and do anything. People take me for granted, but they don't really know who I am or what I am capable of.

A dog approaches. He has no owner with him, just a lonely being. He reminds me of myself, but then I realise I am not lonely - definitely alone though. I try to sigh, but feel I don't have the energy to do even that. The dog checks out his surroundings, drawing his wet nose close to one of my arms to sniff. It bothers me, but I cannot push him away. I hate to admit I am weaker than a dumb dog. He sits for a minute, deep blue eyes staring at me, head cocked, confused. I notice that he's just a puppy, and this brings me back to the days of my own youth. I stare at the dog until he wanders off, finding more interesting things to do.

The waves go on crashing onto the shore. I have always hated that deafening noise, so i focus on the clouds again. Fluffy today, like they have just been whipped up in a candyfloss machine and given to a child at a fair. The sky is a dank, grey colour. It looks as if a painter has just hung up a sheet to paint, but never actually begun to paint.

It starts to rain and I try to shield myself from the large, panging drops, but I cannot. I stay still on the now-shiny pebbles. What's the point, anyway? You only live once, as the children these days say. I remain where I am, the sky's teardrops falling around me. A storm is on the way. This is the last thing I think before I shut my eyes and fall asleep...

Cathy says:
I love the sad, poignancy of this short story... full of feeling, yet so simple. Would YOU like to see more short stories on DREAMCATCHER? Just COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

NIAMH: HOPING FOR BETTER DAYS

Reader Niamh writes a powerful, heartbreaking first hand account of what it was like to survive the terror attack at the recent Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena... 

Niamh says:
The 22nd May 2017 was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, the day I saw Ariana Grande live in concert. From purchasing the tickets in October (a reward for my A* on science in Yr 10 as well as working hard for my GCSEs) I couldn't contain my excitement in the months that followed. I adore Ariana and to see her live would be an incredible experience.

And it was. Until 22.32.

In my head I can still hear it, the horrific explosion, the moment of shocked silence and the scream of sheer terror which followed. The scene was chaotic as attendees in the stands fled in all directions, panic on every face. My mother and I had floor seats and were standing next to the security at the stage barriers at the time. We had gone to retrieve some Ariana 'Greedy Money' which had fallen during the performance, as a collectable and a souvenir. I believe this choice saved us that night and I will always consider those dollars to be my lucky charms.

So many thoughts raced though out heads. 'Was it a gun?' 'Was it a bomb?' Or, 'Was it simply a giant pink balloon that has burst?' None of our questions were answered. 'Get on the ground,' we were told, so we did, crouched together on the floor of the Manchester Arena, still so very unaware of the exact situation we were in. We can't have been on the floor for more than five minutes, but the paralyzing fear made it feel like an eternity. Eventually we were instructed to leave the arena and joined a crowd exiting the venue who were just as confused and frightened as we were. My phone was flooded with messages of 'Are you OK?' and 'What's happened at the arena?'

I didn't know exactly what had happened until almost two hours later in the car going home, when a voice on the radio said the words which made my heart drop and sent me into floods of tears: 'Fatalities confirmed.' I was distraught and utterly heartbroken. I could not comprehend how people who were having the time of their lives just hours earlier now had no time left. I still can't.

I got no sleep that night. I stayed up until 3am watching the news as it revealed new horrific details about the attack. I tried to sleep, but every time I closed my eyes the scene replayed in my head, leaving me shaking and indescribably upset. In spite of this, I attended school the next day. I had the option of staying home, but I didn't want to sit at home and think about it... school would distract me. In addition to this, I knew there were people at school who would want to see that I was safe.

I bawled on Tuesday. Barely cried on Wednesday. Broke down in History on Thursday.

I honestly believe I was in shock initially. Somehow it was easier to talk about in the first few weeks than it is now. Of course, as the days, weeks and months pass it is getting easier, but it still breaks my heart every single day when it makes its way to the forefront of my mind. I believe it always will. My heart breaks for the twenty two angels and their families, always. There are no words to describe how unfair it is to them. There never will be.

As I write this, it is two months on, 22nd July 2017, and I am getting better. Since this dreadful night, I have fallen more in love with the angel that is Ariana Grande for her bravery, love and generosity, considering she must be finding it just as difficult (if not more so) to comprehend as any of us. I have fallen more in love with her music too... there are so many lyrics which have inspired strength and hope in me during this difficult time. I was lucky to attend the One Love Manchester benefit concert on June 4th, which was probably the most amazing night of my life. Despite the circumstances, it was an incredible show put together by Ariana, and it showed the world that love is the most powerful thing we have and it will always conquer hate. Always.

Cathy says:
Words can't even begin to express the courage shown by those who survived the Manchester attack, and those who lost loved ones that night, but Niamh's post is searingly honest and hugely moving. All I can do is send my love and respect to Niamh and all who went through this ordeal, and to commend their strength, bravery and the love and hope they have shown in the face of such fear and trauma. If you'd like to add your own words of respect and comfort, COMMENT BELOW.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

HOLLIE: I'LL NEVER GROW OUT OF CC BOOKS!

Reader Hollie tells how she first discovered CC books... and then rediscovered them after a break of five years!


Hollie says:
I first found the book DIZZY in the library round the corner from my house. I love camper vans and this was when the covers were shiny too, so I was immediately attracted to it! I started reading and fell in love with the story, and I remember taking the book on holiday to Devon with me. I quite young, probably too young for the books - I remember asking my mum what 'vegan' meant and she had to explain that particular style of eating to me! I read LUCKY STAR next and was completely enthralled... I was a fussy reader and got bored easily, but CC books were impossible to put down!

I would read a whole book in one night, going through DRIFTWOOD and SCARLETT and SUNDAE GIRL pretty quickly. Then I read them all again, so many times I can't count. I can still picture the images I had in my head of the characters, still imagine the lough in SCARLETT, the beach in DRIFTWOOD and of course DIZZY's mum! ANGEL CAKE came out when I was eleven, and I found out CC was doing a signing at Waterstones Bluewater. It was advertised on the CC website, where I spent a lot of time making up poems and posting drawings of favourite CC characters. I was so excited, and then realised the signing was on my sister's 13th birthday. Noooo! As a family, we decided I could still go, so I finally got to meet Cathy.

I was also planning to go along to the signing for CHERRY CRUSH, but unfortunately I was ill by then (and devastated to miss it.) It turned out to be quite a long illness, so I wasn't well when the rest of the books came out, but since I've been in recovery I have been reading all the new ones - and the old ones - over and over, and I love them just as much as ever. I started re-reading them when I was eighteen (that was a horrific five-year Cathy-break) and Cathy agreed to meet me at Bluewater again before her BROKEN HEART CLUB signing last year. CC books are my childhood. I will never grow out of them and doubt I'll ever reach an age where I won't want to read them!

Cathy says:
Wow... Hollie is that rare and awesome thing, a reader who has in time become a friend (along with her lovely family!) It's wonderful to know that she is one of many readers who've grown up with my books - and don't want to let them go! Do CC books have a special place in YOUR life? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

TALKING TWINS...

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a twin? Even my characters Skye and Summer found it tricky at times... we asked some real-life twins to tell all!

Raima says:
My twin Nikita and I love your characters, but especially Summer and Skye - they resemble us a lot! Your books inspire us, and my twin has a big passion for writing too!

Nikita says:
Being a twin has its pros and cons! It can be really fun as people always stare at us when we go shopping in the same clothes! When one of us cries the other seems to cry too, which is weird. The disadvantages are that we seem to get one present between the two of us and we often get compared to each other which is annoying. Being a twin can be both enjoyable and challenging!

Erin says:
My twin sister Kate and I are non-identical twins... and we really look nothing alike! It can be annoying having a non-identical twin as nobody believes you when you say you're a twin, but it is also amazing as you get all the perks of being an identical twin but nobody ever confuses you. Plus, you have a friend for life if you have a twin, which is amazing. I'd enjoy being an identical twin so as to trick people, but I don't like the idea that twins should dress alike... if you match perfectly, that's just too confusing! If Kate and I were identical I think we'd be like Skye and Summer Tanberry, and have our own styles and personalities!

Immie says:
I'm a twin. Not identical - just a twin. And although we quarrel and fight just as any sibling does, we love each other and I wouldn't know life without her. We go to the same school, have the same friends... and if I think about it, my twin IS one of my best friends! It's nice to have someone your own age on holiday... my older sister Ella often has friends her own age around, but Bea and I can always keep each other company. I feel very lucky to have Bea and without her I know I'd feel sad and lonely. Being a twin is awesome (even though she irritates me occasionally!)We will grow up going through the same issues and problems, and going to the same parties too! We are a special species!

Cathy says:
Aww, love this! Are YOU a twin? Do you agree with Nikita, Raima, Erin, Kate, Immie and Bea? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 24 July 2017

ANNA: MAKING A SPLASH

Reader Anna tells us all about her love for swimming... and why it makes a great hobby!


Anna says:
I learned to swim when I was a toddler. My parents are both keen swimmers and my dad had competed in county swimming championships when he was a teenager. We spent a lot of time in the water - at the pool at weekends, and in the sea on our annual holiday to Greece. I loved it.

When I was nine, I joined a swimming club and by the time I was eleven, I was asked to join another club which trained on a Monday evening. I completed my lifesaving skills and learned butterfly stroke and basic diving skills. I was fast and had what the trainers thought was 'good style' so two years later again I was asked to join a swim club that trained early in the mornings, three times a week.

At this point it stopped being just fun and became hard work, but because I love swimming so much I didn't mind. I started competing in regional competitions and have won quite a few for my age group, which is a fantastic feeling. At school my friends tease me that I'll be in the next Olympics, and although that is a bit of a fantasy of mine (for the future, not the next ones!) I don't actually think that will happen. I probably don't have the dedication and stamina needed, and I like all the things an ordinary fourteen year old likes, such as boys, music, parties and fashion. I have met other swimmers who are a lot more single-minded than I am, although my coach says I have to aim high so who knows.

It doesn't matter, because although my parents support me, they have never pushed me (or not more than I want to be pushed, if that makes sense.) They know I swim because I love it, and I think that if I don't make it as a competitive swimmer I would love a career in the sports and leisure industry, helping others to love the sport as much as I do. I would recommend swimming to anyone as it is fantastic all round exercise and anyone can do it. I also love that for that hour in the pool, all my worries fall away and I just feel happy and alive to be moving through the water.

Pic by reader 'Zoella' - posed by model

Cathy says:
Brilliant post - I love swimming too, though I am very slow, and I agree that it is a great way to switch off from the stresses of everyday! Do YOU swim? Or do YOU have a different sport you love? Email me via the 'email cathy' link on www.cathycassidy.com to tell me more for a possible post on DREAMCATCHER, or COMMENT BELOW!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

SUMMER DAZE

We asked what you're looking forward to most about the summer... this is what you said!

Carrie says:
Long days blending into each other, lazing around and spending more time outside... that's what I love most about the summer. Plus no school... that's top of the list!

Jennifer says:
In the school holidays, my mum, sister, auntie, cousins and me all go to stay at my auntie's caravan for two or three weeks, and sometimes for the whole summer holidays. It's not far away, just a forty minute drive, but it's by a lovely sandy beach and it is the best bit of my year by far. My dad and uncle have to keep working so they just come down at weekends, and that means we are sort of stranded at the campsite, and I love that. It's different to the real world. I have a cousin the same age and we spend all our time together, she understands me so well. Last year we had our first crushes on boys at the campsite, which was weird, so I can't wait to see what this year brings.

Mel says:
We are going to Portugal this August, which will be our first overseas holiday for five years. I am ridiculously excited. I still have some holiday stuff to buy, and I can't wait!

Carmel says:
I am going to a two week youth drama course this summer and I cannot wait. I love acting and it's perfect to me to spend so much time on a production, and with teachers who are really brilliant. It's a great opportunity. And I hope to make new friends too, who share my passion!

Esther says:
My family aren't going anywhere on holiday this summer so my best friend and I have made a pact to make it the best summer ever anyway. We have drawn up a bucket list and we are going to work our way through it. 'First kiss' is on the list... arghhh!

Nikita says:
I have got a holiday job for the first time, waitressing at a local cafe in town. I have never done it before and I'm a bit nervous, but I'm looking forward to it. And looking forward to the money I can earn as well!

Fab pic by Ali: model, Hollie. Thank you both!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

TILDA: MY BOYFRIEND'S DAD WANTS TO BREAK US UP...

It's problem page time again and reader Tilda has a very tricky issue to sort out with her long distance boyfriend. HONEY TANBERRY, well-used to long-distance love, has some strong advice...

Tilda says:
My boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship and everything was going well... until his dad began handing out some unwanted advice. He seems to think it 'pathetic' that his son is faithful to just one girl and tells him he should be playing the field, cheating or at least finding a girlfriend who lives closer. My boyfriend has no intention of taking this advice - he's just not like that - but recently his dad has stopped us from meeting up in the holidays for four weeks as planned and told us to settle for two weeks instead. He then tried to ban us from seeing each other altogether, and after my boyfriend's mum stepped in a compromise of ten days was reached. This has really upset me, and knowing my boyfriend's dad disapproves is hurtful, too.

Honey says:
You don't say how old you are, but whatever your age, remember that parents won't be calling the shots forever. Do your best to ignore this - if you allow the comments to get to you, you hand power to your boyfriend's dad and give him way more attention than he deserves. His comments are sexist and outdated, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's having some kind of mid life crisis and remembering is own (probably very tame) teenage years. It's not easy to keep a long distance relationship strong (it was horrible being away from Ash), but you two are doing a great job of it - don't allow insecurity or resentment to derail you now. One point - I can't help wondering why your boyfriend feels the need to tell you all of this, when it is bound to upset you. I suspect you're so close that you tell each other everything, but at this point your boyfriend needs to blank his dad's crazy comments and stop giving them airtime, or the negativity will begin to undermine your relationship. Focus on the bond between the two of you and ignore the background noise - if your boyfriend's dad realises nobody shares his opinion, he'll hopefully stop laying down the law. Good luck!

Cathy says:
Excellent advice from Honey, and as usual she doesn't hold back! What would YOU advise Tilda to do? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

YOUR STARS FOR JULY...

It's horoscope time again and SKYE TANBERRY has been making consulting the stars... will her predictions ring true for YOU this month?

CANCER (22 Jun-22 Jul)
You're cautious but sensible with money as a rule, but fortune decrees you'll have plenty of cash this summer - make sure you use it wisely and have lots of fun with it! Believe in yourself and this new abundance could become a permanent fixture...

LEO (23 Jul- 23 Aug)
Change is forecast, and although that can feel scary it's really a good thing, promise! Enjoy it and see where it takes you... new doors are opening up for you and exciting opportunities are there for the taking! Here comes freedom!

VIRGO (24 Aug- 22 Sept)
The holidays could not have come at a better time - you need to step back, relax, chill out and reassess your life! Hard work has been par for the course just lately, but take the time to work out if this is what you want. Once you've got that dream in mind, plan the best way to achieve it!

LIBRA (23 Sept-23 Oct)
So much potential is unfolding for you this summer! Decide on your hopes, dreams and wishes and allow yourself to really believe in them - the stars are lining up to fast-track your secret ambitions, and there's a power in the air that looks very much like magic...

SCORPIO (24 Oct-22 Nov)
Time to think big - the holidays are a great time to plan just what you want from your life right now, and work out how to put any changes into place. The time is right for you to step up and reach out for the things you dream of, so give it everything you've got!

SAGITTARIUS (23 Nov-21 Dec)
Stay open to possibilities and you'll see opportunity where others might not! Travel this summer will recharge your batteries, top up your adventurous spirit and give you energy to tackle the hard work that lies ahead. Study will follow, but it will be fun!

CAPRICORN (22 Dec-19 Jan)
Lots of changes are on the cards this month, so take a deep breath and make the most of it! As well as holiday fun you'll have the chance of some holiday romance action too... and even if it is quite flirty and light, this will boost your self-esteem hugely!

AQUARIUS (20 Jan-18 Feb)
The summer break looks like being SO lucky for you... relaxation, adventure and romance are all on the cards. It is also the perfect time to change all the niggly little things that are getting you down and make a fresh start towards a brighter, more satisfying life. Get planning!

PISCES (19 Feb-20 Mar)
You've been feeling stressed and pressured lately, and pushing yourself too hard. July is your chance to get things back into balance and let go of the stress... your priority is to chill out and refuel right now, so put health and happiness at the top of your wish list and make some changes!

ARIES (21 Mar-19 Apr)
You've fallen into some bad habits as far as school/ college/ work are concerned... time for a rethink and a fresh start! Rest and fun are looking good this month, and an unexpected flirtation will add excitement to the summer. Enjoy!

TAURUS (20 Apr- 20 May)
Have you been working too hard? Or not hard enough? You know the answer, and you know what you need to do - and now is the time to out thoughts into action. Look for a better balance of work and fun, and make those changes now... avoiding the issues could end in disaster.

GEMINI (21 May-21 Jun)
Arghh... when does the hard work let up? Not yet, alas, but you kind of like it this way! Work, fun, travel and change are all going to be pretty full-on in the coming months, so grit your teeth and go with the flow. Keep hold of your dreams, because they can become reality - perhaps when you least expect!

Cathy says:
Interesting times! Does YOUR horoscope sound familiar this month? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

MORE LEXIE REVIEWS... WHOOP!!!

The reviews for LOVE FROM LEXIE keep on coming... here are a few more to tempt those of you who haven't got their hands on a copy yet!

Deborah says:
Would it be cliched to say this is the best book I've ever read? It doesn't really matter... I still believe it is! I'm still catching my breath from the ending of the book, and I read the last page about fifteen minutes ago! LOVE FROM LEXIE is a must-read. The first pages make you fall in love with Lexie's personality - as well as the variety of people she comes across in her thirteen years of life. Truth be told I was taken away by a certain character - we both have quite a lot in common! Before you know it, you are sucked into a story that makes you want to read on and on until there's nothing left - let me just say I am so glad this is the first in a series! With many twists and turns and the return of a character I never expected to see, LOVE FROM LEXIE is the perfect read. I'm just so pumped to read the rest of the LOST & FOUND series - I cannot wait!

Emma says:
I loved the book LOVE FROM LEXIE because of all the characters... everyone has their secrets to tell! Happi is my favourite character I think, I can't wait to find out more about her! My favourite part was where Marley mistook the LOST AND FOUND meeting for something different, but it was brilliant and brought the group closer. The book shows you the true meaning of friendship and that you are stronger together.. and there is a very unexpected twist in the tail!

Jasmine says:
I consider myself eccentric and whimsical but I'm sure some might describe me as a misfit, so I related to this book on a personal level! The characters in LOVE FROM LEXIE are diverse and not always what they seem... I cannot wait to see how these characters evolve and develop as the series unfolds. I really loved the surprise appearance of Jake Cooke, a throwback from the book FORTUNE COOKIE... I highly recommend this book to CC fans everywhere!

Cathy says:
I am pretty blown away by the lovely reviews for LOVE FROM LEXIE... have YOU read the new book yet? Email your review through the 'email Cathy' link on www.cathycassidy.com if you'd like to take part in a review blog, or COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

HEIDI: AN AUSSIE GIRL IN EUROPE!

Heidi shares her adventures and tells us all about her epic trip to Europe... inspiring and awesome words from a lovely Aussie reader!

Heidi says:
On Christmas night 2016, while most people were singing carols a little too loudly and slipping into food comas, I was sitting in a silent airport, about to soar through a silent morning sky. At 12.47am I would board a giant bird - not flying south for the winter, but north-west, straight into the middle of a winter wonderland, and one of my dream destinations... PARIS! That would just be start of my adventures in an ice-covered Europe. I would encounter escargot snails that run across the table; beautiful, crazy German ladies I would make the most unlikely of friendships with; dogs in cafes being welcomed with free bowls of water; frozen hair; frozen hands; frozen legs; and the true appreciation of a heated hotel room!

Of the seven countries I visited, France was a favourite. Soft, throaty French conversations everywhere I walked put me in dreamy trances. The hamburgers made my mouth water and sunrises on leafless, tree lined boulevards almost made me into a morning person. I could see why they call it the city of love - you couldn't help but fall in love with the whole atmosphere! We travelled with a small tour group who took us to the Somme battlefields... it snowed the night before, and in the morning everything was covered with a light sugar dusting. The world was still. Thick fog swirled between the gravestones, some marking the deaths of soldiers still in their teens. I felt like the heavy thump of my Doc Martens could be the sound of their hearts beating again, if only briefly. It felt like the broken barrier between reality and beyond. I almost thought I heard the rumble of cannons in the distance - or perhaps just cars. The fog hung so low it kissed the lips of the dead and bowed over in mourning. I saw a cluster of red poppies peeking out of the snow, bright and vibrant against the stark white, a sign of rebirth, hope.

I have loved the words around me and within me ever since I was little. Writing carried me across Europe, a new notebook I'd bought for my journey quickly filled with thoughts and recollections. I wrote French sentences by lamplight in Paris, noted sightings of cute boys in Italy, recalled little magical moments everywhere. In London, I stumbled across a poet tracing his words onto the pavement at Trafalgar Square, simple rhymes in rainbow chalk, spilling out across the sidewalk. He handed me a piece of yellow chalk and told me to write something, and so I did. I messily scratched out my favourite mini poem, written months ago, one of the only ones I remembered off by heart. I passed by the next day and the colours had been washed off, but I felt I has made my mark on the world. Chalk is temporary, words are not:
'Her lips were flowers,
Mine were weeds.
I thought I would destroy her,
But instead she planted seeds.'

I had never tasted anything like the cuisine of Italy, France, Switzerland, Austrian Germany and Czech Republic. In almost every town, I tried a hamburger - the best was a Normandy burger on my first night in France, I never knew Brie could taste so good on beef. I ate delicious garlic snails and questionable burgundy wine ones, then chased them down with a disgusting shot of pure espresso.I ate the best spaghetti in a place called Cafe de Paris in Switzerland - better than Italian pasta. I tried every new dish I could. In Florence, eating a pizza slice cooked on top of another pizza slice, I made eye contact with the most gorgeous boy I have ever seen. Shame I had hot cheese dripping down my face! In London I visited M&M World - it was heaven, as they are my favourite chocolate, and very YELLOW too.

Europe was the best holiday I have ever experienced. I will return one day when it's warmer - my poor Australian heart couldn't handle another minus 10 degree winter! Fingers crossed next time I go to England I'll meet Cathy Cassidy, my favourite author, and get to find more words, more friendships and more yellow in everything. And I hope you do too!

Cathy says:
Wow... I love this post, not just because of the adventures described but the wonderful words Heidi has used to make it all come to life! Have YOU ever had the holiday of a lifetime? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more, or email me via the EMAIL CATHY link over on www.cathycassidy.com if you'd like to talk about YOUR holiday on DREAMCATCHER!

Monday, 3 July 2017

I MET CC ON THE LOVE FROM LEXIE TOUR...

I asked readers met on my recent book tour for LOVE FROM LEXIE to share their comments on what a CC school visit is like... this is what they said!

Chelsie says:
I loved hearing about how all the ideas for the new series and LOVE FROM LEXIE came about... from the Dr Marten boots that inspired the character Bex to the music theme and the library stuff. And I knew even before I started to read that my favourite character was going to be Mary Shelley the tortoise! The talk was cool and I got to ask a question too, which Cathy answered. I bought the new book and got it signed, and brought some of my books from home to be signed too. I wish school was always this inspiring!

Nidhi says:
I am a huge CC fan and LOOKING GLASS GIRL is one of the best books I have ever read! I loved your book talk in Ilford and found it quite inspirational... I am considering becoming an author, and have already had some pieces of writing published!

Raima says:
My twin and I were so happy to find out Cathy was visiting our school on her book tour - we love CC books and characters SO much! We loved the presentation - especially when Cathy read from her new book LOVE FROM LEXIE. While she was reading the whole hall was silent and everyone was so moved and intrigued by the story. Even the teachers! CC books are the best I've ever read and they inspire me so much!

Sophia says:
I loved the book talk Cathy did when she came to our school in Birmingham on her book tour. I showed Cathy the reply she'd written to the letter I sent her last year and she signed my LOVE FROM LEXIE book! The slide show was so inspiring - one of the ideas my friends and I got from it was to make a trailer for LOVE FROM LEXIE! We are even holding auditions, and can't wait to start filming. We are part of a book group, and LOVE FROM LEXIE is going to be our next read!

Rosie says:
My favourite bits of the presentation were the bits about daydreaming (I will be asking for the daydreaming hacks) and also the quiz, which was fun. I am entering the letter writing competition too and if I win I will give the signed book to my best friend. The whole presentation was really cool and inspiring but my best bit of all was getting my copy of LOVE FROM LEXIE signed and meeting Cathy, which I will always remember!

Haydn says:
I loved Cathy's presentation and can't wait to read LOVE FROM LEXIE - I stayed after school for the book signing because I couldn't miss the chance to meet my absolute favourite author! I loved the bit in the talk about daydreaming because I love to switch off and drift away. After the talk I was inspired to make a daydream den - see picture! I put cushions and fairy lights in the corner or my room and made a canopy from a blanket. I put my favourite books onto the bookcase and stuck sticky notes with random ideas on them around the den. Plus... I made sure there were some jellybeans handy!


Fab pic of LOVE FROM LEXIE, boots and guitar by Dandelion Kym - many thanks! Pic of daydreaming den by Haydn - brilliant! 

Cathy says:
Aww, lovely feedback... and the tour's not over yet! Have YOU ever been to a CC event? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!