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!

ROISIN: DAISY CHAIN DAYS

Reader Roisin looks back to a summer - and a friendship - she will never forget.

Roisin says:
The summer I turned thirteen was the best summer ever. My best friend Cara and I had planned it all... we wanted to fit as much fun into the school holidays as possible. Bike rides, picnics, trips to the beach - we wanted a proper summer, something exciting and memorable. Neither of us were going away, so there was nothing to stop us.

The thing I remember most about that summer was the daisies, everywhere... we made daisy chains just the way we did when we first met as six year olds. We put daisy chains in our hair, wore them as bracelets and necklaces. It was like a private joke between us, or a pact. It was our summer trademark.

We had daisy chains in our hair the first time we met Lewis and Pete. They were brothers, aged fourteen and sixteen, on holiday for two weeks with their grandparents at our sleepy seaside town, and we met them on their first night here. Straight away it was clear that Pete liked Cara, and Lewis and I were happy to flirt a bit even though we knew that basically we were just friends. We were inseparable for that fortnight, and every day seemed to etch itself into my memory. Bike rides up to the downs and picnics in fields scattered with wild flowers, beach bonfires after dark, swimming in the quiet coves Cara and I knew. I was almost sure that Cara was falling in love with Pete, and I was happy for her. I wondered if I would ever be as happy again.

The summer turned sour when Lewis and Pete left. Cara fell into a depression, lost all interest in doing anything. I thought she was just missing Pete, but one day she confessed that her parents were moving to South Wales in September. They'd kept quiet about it because they knew she'd be upset. It's two years now since Cara left, and though I still have good friends I will never have a friend like her. We kept in touch to begin with, but I found it hard to hear about her new friends and her new exciting life, and to my shame I stopped answering her messages. I let her go. She was like my sister, my other self, and we shared the best summer together. When I look back, it's not the silly, childish flirting with Lewis and Pete I remember, but those long daisy chain days and a friendship I thought would never end.

And every time I see daisies, I think of Cara.

Fab pics by 'Zoella Fan' - model unknown. Thank you!

Cathy says:
Do YOU have a friendship story, happy or sad, to share? Email me though the 'email Cathy' link on cathycassidy.com or COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

BLUE: THE BOOK I WISH I'D HAD AS A YOUNG TEEN...

Blue is one of my longtime readers, now in her early twenties... so when she offered to review LOVE FROM LEXIE I couldn't wait to hear her verdict!

Blue says:
I finished LOVE FROM LEXIE the night I got it - it's one of those books that you cannot put down because you HAVE to know what happens next! Main character Lexie accidentally starts a band and ends up on a crusade to save her local libraries from closure (a topic dear to many readers' hearts) and it's just as madcap as it sounds! In true CC style, important topics are acknowledged and addressed in the book, from library closures to the individual and often challenging backstories of the characters. Fans will recognise Jake Cooke, the Chocolate Box Boy, as the band's eager triangle player... I liked that, it was a nice link to Cathy's other books.

The book was well written as always, and I especially enjoyed the inclusion of song lyrics for the Lost & Found - it really brought the band to life for me. LOVE FROM LEXIE left me with two lingering thoughts. Firstly, this is the book I wish I'd had as a youngster. It's the book I needed and wanted when I was eleven or twelve, and though I enjoyed it immensely as the adult I now am, I am glad Cathy's younger readers have the privilege of having this book in their lives right now. Secondly, I am so, SO glad this is the first of a series! I can't wait to follow Lexie and co on their journey.

Give it a read, please... you won't regret it! From the riveting plot to the colourful cast (quite literally in the case of Bex, the blue haired punk rocker and Miss Walker, the librarian with a pink beehive!) this is quite possibly the best book you'll read all year. 10/10 doesn't seem enough, somehow, so I score it 15/10!

Awesome picture of the LOST & FOUND band by Blue... LOVE it!

Cathy says:
This review is just so cool... I love that she's connected so well to the characters! Have YOU read LOVE FROM LEXIE yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!