Monday, 2 October 2017

I LOVE LEXIE! MORE FAB READER REVIEWS...

More readers share their reviews of LOVE FROM LEXIE... it's flying off the shelves... have you got YOUR copy yet?

Aaliyah says:
Yesterday I loaned LOVE FROM LEXIE from my local library and read it for two hours... then another three hours until, past midnight, I finished it. It made me cry it was SO good, and the storyline kept me gripped throughout. I loved how Lexie took all the lonely people and made them feel like they belonged - and I took a great liking to Marley too! Every time I read a CC book I think how awesome it would be to make it into a film, and I think LOVE FROM LEXIE would be the perfect place to start. When the Chocolate Box Girls series ended I was so upset but Lexie is my new favourite character - all I can say is that it was well worth the wait!

Angharad says
I LOVED this book. It was a sensational, heart-warming story that made me sit up in my seat and beg for more. LOVE FROM LEXIE is all about a girl called Lexie who accidentally finds herself forming a band called the LOST & FOUND with some of the kids from her school. Lexie is lost and lonely because her mother abandoned her, moreover, she never knew the reason. I really liked the book because it has a strong musical theme and that's fab for me as I play piano, clarinet and violin (like Happi in the story). It's also a cool, fun and frankly very good book. There is a clever twist in the tale and I am really looking forward to reading the next one in the series!

Cathy says:
Thanks girls for such fabulous reviews... I really appreciate it! Have YOU read LOVE FROM LEXIE yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say or email me to have your own LOVE FROM LEXIE review on DREAMCATCHER!

Saturday, 30 September 2017

JOSIE: A DREAM OF DANCING...

Reader Josie has dreamed of a career in dance ever since she can remember... but will her dreams come true?

Josie says:
When you're little, it all seems so easy. You have big dreams, of dancing in pointe shoes and a white tutu at Covent Garden, being handed a bouquet at the end as the audience goes crazy. I read too many ballet books, or maybe not enough. I lived and breathed ballet, and I never for one moment thought that my dreams would not come true.

As I grew older, I learned that dreams aren't quite as simple as the Disney cartoons make out. You don't just wish on a star and get your dream future handed to you on a plate. You have to work, and hard. My ballet lessons went up to twice a week, then three times, then four. There would be extra practices when we had a show, and extra pressure to be chosen as something other than the chorus line. Still, I loved it. The joy of dancing made all the hard work worthwhile. I progressed through my grades, began dancing en pointe, watched my ballet friends fall away as teenage life and its pressures and dramas took precedence over ballet. Only a handful of the girls I'd danced with since the age of four are still taking lessons now.

Reality seeps in, and it can sour a dream. I wasn't chosen to audition for the Royal Ballet School, nor the regional school, when I was younger. It's a bit like not getting that letter telling you you're going to Hogwarts... a huge reality check. My parents started telling me to think about careers, and they didn't mean careers in dance. They said that only a very few dancers can make it to the very top, and that I should start to see it as a hobby I loved rather than anything else. That broke my heart. I am in Year Eleven now, taking A levels, and my friends are starting to talk about sixth form and universities and whether to pick things like English or Business Studies. I couldn't picture myself in that kind of future. I spoke to my ballet teacher about this and she had a different story to tell. Not everybody takes the same route in ballet, and not everyone gets to be a prima ballerina, but they can still have a career in dance. She pointed out that I was also studying Tap, Modern and Musical Theatre, and suggested I apply for a place at Performing Arts College. It's like a foundation for a degree. Next week I am attending an open day at one of the big Performing Arts colleges in the city where I live, and if it goes well I will be applying. It will be two years of dancing and if I do well, I plan to apply for a Musical Theatre course at university. My dream is alive again, changing a little, but better than ever and even more exciting because this time they are genuinely possible. Never give up.

Photograph by reader Hollie; posed by model.

Cathy says:
This is such a powerful piece. Dreams do evolve as we get older, and there are always many routes to your end goal, or different versions of it which can make you happy. Determination and sheer hard work can take you a very long way! I wish Josie the very best of luck! Have YOU got a dream that sometimes seems impossible? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

NEW YEAR SEVENS... THREE WEEKS IN!

A few weeks ago, we heard from a whole bunch of new Year Sevens to find out what they were looking forward to about their new schools... now we've caught up with them to see if secondary school is living up to their expectations!

Louise says:
Year 7 is going great so far - I've made lots of new friends! The school dinners are fantastic though the queues are quite big, but it's worth the wait! My favourite is the pizza! I've joined the drama, netball and language clubs so far and would say to anyone feeling anxious about joining a club to give it a try - a great way to meet people with similar interests! My CATS tests went well - they just took a morning (unlike SATS which seemed to last forever) and I'm very happy with the set I'm in. I think I'm settling in just fine - and I've only been lost once!

Esther says:
My first day of secondary school was fine, but I prefer primary. School is OK, but sometimes overwhelming, and I don't seem to be learning anything in Maths. Overall, I'd prefer not to go! It's weird, because we are in Year 7 and we have to show respect, yet we get no respect from the rest of the school.

Nell says:
The first week was fun - nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. The students are all very kind and welcoming, especially the Year 8s who have just been through the experience! There are lots of clubs to choose from, and I've joined a drama group and one all about making food look good! I worried about homework to start with, but realised that if you tackle it in bite-size chunks it doesn't seem so daunting. The teachers are nice and I've enjoyed lessons a lot - my favourites are drama and science. In science we've been learning about forensics and contamination at a crime scene, which is really interesting! The food is really good - may fave is pitta with garlic mayo, tortilla chips and salsa! To anyone in Year 6 now, don't worry - I'm sure you'll enjoy Year 7 as much as I have so far!

Robin says:
I've just had my first few weeks of high school and I LOVE it! Here are five cool things about high school!
1: The FOOD! My school has brilliant food, plus a McDonald's style pre-order machine!
2: The TEACHERS! They aren't mean or strict, they are kind and caring - even when I was late to a class because I'd got lost!
3: The LESSONS! I have brilliant lessons - we used bunsen burners in science and designed an electronic pencil in Tech!
4: The AFTER-SCHOOL CLUBS! I love stuff like the Trading Card Club and the Lego Mindstorms Club!
5: The INSET DAYS! Actually, INSET means a day off school, but hey - it's great to get an extra day off after all that excitement, and it's only right to celebrate with ice-cream, isn't it?
High school is brilliant - all you new Year 6s out there, you'd better start looking forward to it!

Cathy says:
Mixed reactions, but overall a big thumbs up for Year Seven from our Roving Reporters! Good luck for the rest of the year to brilliant Louise, Esther, Nell and Robin! What are YOUR best bits of advice for new secondary school students? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 22 September 2017

SO LIKE SUMMER...

If there's one CC book which has struck a chord with many readers and helped them to see there is light at the end of the tunnel, it's SUMMER'S DREAM. We talk to readers who have been through what Summer did...

Sophie says:
I am fourteen and I live in France, so sorry for my bad English... but I need to thank you for the book COEUR MANDARINE (SUMMER'S DREAM). I am probably not the first girl to say this, but I lost one year of my life because of anorexia. I find it hard to explain my illness, or to talk about it because it is not something people usually talk about. When I read Summer's story I was sad but also happy because finally there was a book about this horrible illness. The book is a very good way to warn young girls about the danger of anorexia. I hope that Cathy will go on writing about this kind of subject because we need books that are brave and real.

Matt says:
I am so grateful for the book SUMMER'S DREAM. I read it because my sister had it (I am a fifteen year old boy and it's hard for boys to pick up books that look like this!). Anyway, I realised after reading this book that I had big issues with food and that I needed to get a grip. I had been bingeing and then purging and it had become a sort of addiction, and I thought it was under control but the book made me see that I was just kidding myself. I talked to my school counsellor and I am getting help now, and the binge/ purge thing is under control. I feel very strongly that boys need books that deal with real life issues too, not just girls - we are all under the same kinds of pressure. SUMMER'S DREAM was a bit of a lifesaver for me.

Jessie says:
SUMMER'S DREAM was the book that made me see that I was in trouble with the way I was with food. Like Summer, I was limiting food and eating only things I thought were low calorie and fat-free, and I thought that was OK. The book showed me that it actually isn't OK at all but very dangerous, but it did this in a very natural and realistic and un-preachy way. I suppose I saw what happened to Summer and how she lost everything because of her eating disorder, and I didn't want that to be me. I was able to pull back before it got too much, and although I still try to eat healthily I am very careful now to make sure I eat enough. I'm not scared of certain foods any more. I saw that Summer used food as a way to try to handle her stress and that was what I had been doing too, and it clearly wasn't a good way of coping. SUMMER'S DREAM taught me a lot and made me think a lot, and I am thankful for that.

Vee says:
I was in hospital being treated for anorexia when my mum gave me SUMMER'S DREAM. She later told me she was nervous about giving the book to me in case it triggered bad thoughts but it had the opposite effect. It made me feel like someone out there understood and that there was hope, because if Summer could put up with the treatment then so could I. I have read some other books about eating disorders but some make it seem like everything can be fixed quite quickly, and that's not true - sometimes they can't be fixed. I have lost friends to this illness. It's not something to mess about with. It's not a joke. SUMMER'S DREAM was one book that seemed to get this, and managed still to be hopeful. I have now read the other books in the series and followed Summer's progress to getting better, and I am making progress too. She is one fictional character I will always be hugely grateful to, because it feels like we have gone through this nightmare together.

Cathy says:
These posts are so moving. SUMMER'S DREAM was a tough book to write because I wanted it to be realistic and yet hopeful too, while dealing with a very difficult subject. Has a book ever helped YOU to cope with something in your life? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more...

Saturday, 16 September 2017

BLUE: WHEN I WENT TO PRIDE...

Reader Blue travelled up to the Glasgow Pride Festival this summer - here, she tells us what her day was like!

Blue says:
I'd travelled quite a way but didn't get to take part in the parade itself - all I can tell you is that there were lots of rainbow flags, a police car decorated with rainbow balloons and a Tesco float that somehow produced rainbow smoke! I did get to Glasgow Green where there were lots of stalls and fairground rides and a stall selling things like flags and badges and flower crowns. I managed to find some vegetable tempura and there was even a dog show - I saw a Staffie dressed as Sonic the Hedgehog and various small dogs dressed in rainbow tutus and bandanas.  My friend swears she saw a rainbow dyed Dalmation, too!

As for the people, so many were dressed up in various fantastical styles! Many of us were wearing our respective Pride flags as capes, and lots wore plastic rain ponchos because the weather was flipping between blue skies and sun one minute and downpour the next. That just gave the host a chance to make jokes about the sun 'coming out' though!
The main stage was where the magic really happened - I watched a group of drag queens dancing, and one of them, dressed as an alien and dancing to Katy perry's 'Extraterrestrial' joined the crowd to pose for photos with fans afterwards. A band called Collabro played a great set too, including 'The Circle of Life' from The Lion King! DJs played music in between the bands and the 'Macarena' got the whole crowd dancing in sync - I absolutely loved the carefree atmosphere.

Pride is just such an accepting place and a great celebration, not just for LGBT+ people but for everyone! People were dressed whatever way they wanted to, whether that was Lolita, punk, drag, their own eclectic style or just men putting glitter in their beards! Nobody laughed at anyone else because we were all comfortable being who we were, without judgement. In fact, total strangers were complimenting each other on their look, which was lovely! I'll definitely be going back next year, and I'll try not to miss the parade next time!

Cathy says:
I watched the Liverpool Pride Parade this year and loved it too... such a happy, positive and peaceful way of showing the world that love is what matters, no matter whether someone is straight, gay or otherwise. Would YOU take part in a local LGBT pride festival? Do you think we still have work to do before the LGBT community feel fully accepted? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

JAY: THE END OF SUMMER...

Reader Jay will be glad to see the back of the summer of 2017... read on to find out why...

Jay says:
It started out with every promise of being a great summer. My family were going on holiday to Blackpool and my older sister Lucy, who is at uni in Birmingham, was coming too. I was so looking forward to seeing her because I had missed her so much. I went clothes shopping with my mum and got some great bargains, and even downloaded the new CC book onto my Kindle to read while I was away. The first sign that things weren't going well was that Lucy seemed a bit withdrawn and moody with me, sometimes snapping at me that I didn't realise how lucky I was. (I'd just finished taking my GCSE exams, so I didn't feel lucky!) Then, as we drove north, the rain started and when we looked up the weather online it said the whole week was going to be wet. The hotel wasn't as good as it looked in the pictures either, and the mood was a bit subdued although we went through the motions and did the funfair, the shops, and booked a couple of shows.

It got much worse, sadly. Halfway through the week, Mum got a call from Grandad telling us my nan had been taken into hospital with a stroke. At that point we abandoned the holiday and drove to Wales to see Nan. It was the first time I have seen anyone so ill - she couldn't talk or move much, though she could squeeze your hand, and she had an oxygen mask on to breathe. Mum said she could hear us so we told her how much we loved her and to get better soon. On the second night, sitting in the family room in the hospital, my sister Lucy told me she was miserable at uni and was dropping out, she had been seeing a counsellor and taking anti-depressants but no matter what she did she still wasn't coping. I understood why things hadn't seemed right and promised to help her tell Mum and Dad.

We didn't get a chance though because Nan died the next morning, and after that the summer was all about funerals and choosing hymns and flower colours for the wreath and everybody crying the whole time. It felt unreal, like everything was happening underwater. I spent a lot of time with Grandad, letting him talk about when Nan was young and they were first together. I have so many memories too, and I can't believe she's gone. Lucy told Mum and Dad two weeks ago and they were upset but they just accepted it in the end. Lucy is still struggling and looking for a job now. It has been the most horrible summer I can ever remember, and I will be so glad to see the end of it. It feels like the end of my childhood and the start of a much greyer, sadder future, but hopefully that feeling won't last forever.

Fab photograph by reader Davina... thank you so much!

Cathy says:
Sometimes in life, all the difficult stuff seems to come at once... no wonder Jay feels low. Things WILL pick up, though, and life will go on. Have YOU ever had a time when everything seemed to go wrong at once? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

YOUR STARS FOR SEPTEMBER...

Skye Tanberry has been stargazing again... read on to discover what thrills and spills lie in wait for you this month!

VIRGO: 24th Aug - 22nd Sept
Drop the worry and think positive - you're at a crossroads, and you can change your life for the better if you just have faith in your hopes and dreams, and the determination to see them through. Ditching the fears is the first step - and by far the most important!

LIBRA: 23rd Sept - 23rd Oct
A period of good luck is heading your way, and this could mean you have some spending money for once! It's OK to treat yourself, but don't go too crazy - plan carefully and make sure there's enough set aside for later!

SCORPIO: 24th Oct - 22nd Nov
Things are looking up... it's a LONG time since the stars have looked so good for Scorpios! Fun, friendship and happy times are all on the menu, and if you keep on working hard too you could be looking at an awesome year ahead!

SAGITTARIUS: 23rd Nov - 21st Dec
You've had a wild summer, socially, but things are calming down a little on the friendship front. It's time to top up your batteries and chill out a little - swimming, yoga, meditation, painting, reading or music should all help!

CAPRICORN: 22nd Dec - 19th Jan
Life has been a little stressy lately, but all of that's about to change! Friends and fun are the priority right now, and although old friends will become closer than ever, you may also meet new people who will become hugely important to you in the months ahead!

AQUARIUS: 20th Jan - 18th Feb
You have big ambitions, but up until now you haven't always been sure of how to make them real. Play to your strengths at school/ college/ work and don't hide your quirky creativity - these are the things that will get you noticed!

PISCES: 19th Feb - 20th Mar
Travel and adventure are on the cards for you, but to take advantage of this you need to stop worrying and trust the future. Focus on what you want from life and you're more likely to attract it - try it and see!

ARIES: 21st mar - 19th Apr
Romance and money are both fizzing away in your stars this month... enjoy! To keep things looking good, stay on track with study and do whatever you can to boost your self-esteem - fate will see to the rest!

TAURUS: 20th Apr - 20th May
Romance and friendship are moving into a much brighter zone for you, and relationships of all kinds should run more smoothly and bring joy. If you're struggling with a possessive friend/ partner, now is the time to cut your ties and break free.

GEMINI: 21st May - 21st June
You'v had a lot on your plate lately, but life should start running much more smoothly now. You're not a fan of routine, but make sure you keep on top of things - and take time out for fun and relaxation. All work and no play just doesn't work for Geminis!

CANCER: 2nd June - 22nd Jul
You love a bit of drama, but lately there's been a little too much of it... thankfully, things are going to be less intense now. Creativity and home life will take centre stage, so let your imagination go wild!

LEO: 23rd Jul - 23rd Aug
You've weathered some huge storms recently, but the rough seas are calming at last. Suddenly, everything will seem easier and you'll start finding fun in everyday things - a walk in the park, a day out with friends. Amazing chances could open up to anyone moving house/ school/ job!

Cathy says:
Hmmm... some exciting predictions here! Did they ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!