Monday, 24 September 2018

YOUR STARS FOR SEPTEMBER

With the shifting of seasons, we all need a little guidance from the stars. Skye predicts once more, your future! 

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Let yourself dream freely, it will inspire a creative new project. Have you ever tried keeping a dream journal? Often the best ideas come at night, just before sleep, so keep a notebook to hand so you don’t forget!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Be there for someone you love, they may need it more than ever this month. Rewards come in all different shapes and sizes, the cycle of karma works its own magic in its own time. With this in mind, never neglect your own needs and happiness.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
You will reconnect with an old friend this month, they may come bearing big news! Interest in a new hobby will enable you to explore this friendship more comfortably than ever before.

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
A flash of inspiration will come from an unexpected place this month, something to ignite your creative fires and help you overcome an obstacle in your life. Channel it and sit back and watch the magic happen!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Ever had a spinach and kale smoothie? No, me neither. Being healthy doesn’t always mean sacrificing tasty food. Exercise is a great way to feel healthier and happier! Walking instead of getting the bus is an easy way to feel better. Mentally and physically.

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
It’s officially autumn. Time to get your slouchy cardis and fair isle jumpers out! While there are a lot of changes happening, make sure you make time to curl up with a good book and relax. Switch-off time is so important for your mental well-being.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
Be impulsive, go out of your comfort zone. It will pay off in unexpected ways and things you might never have dreamed of doing will become some of your biggest achievements. This month in particular will be full of opportunities!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
You like being in control of your actions but try and cut loose and let your mind wander. Sometimes the magic happens when you let go a bit. Be bold and confident but don’t be upset if your efforts don’t pay off all at once.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
This is a month of new experiences. A lot of changes are taking place and not just with the shift of seasons. Embrace these changes, the good and bad, the scary and familiar. This month in particular will shape a new path in your life.

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Nature is your first love, these autumnal colours bring not only joy but a breath of fresh air. Like an imaginary reset button, this is a month to start afresh. Go for a walk, feel the crunchy leaves beneath your shoes. Breathe.

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You are full of energy this month but it is erratic and comes in waves. Make sure you use it wisely. Take care not to hurt others around you. A friend in need may come to you, be kind and selfless.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
A bit of confidence in your own abilities will pay off this month. You are usually very humble and shy, but try it out for size! It feels good to be sure of yourself and you can achieve anything with the right amount of confidence.

Cathy says:
WOWEE! Lots in store for the weeks ahead! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU this month? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Friday, 21 September 2018

SEPTEMBER BOOK PICK - THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS

Reader and blogger Coco&chats tells us about an amazing YA novel that you'll never forget...

Coco&chats says:
I love nothing more than getting lost in a book.... sitting absolutely anywhere and just getting so engrossed in a story. I have been really busy this year with school so this summer I planned to catch up on all the books on my to- read list. I thought it would take a while to find a really good book but I was wrong. I picked up this book from the library as it was part of this year's Carnegie Award and I knew from the first page that it was going to be amazing. It is THE HATE U GIVE  by Angie Thomas. I don't know what it is about this book that grips me - it's just written in such a unique way.

The story follows sixteen-year-old Starr Carter as she moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangster. Protesters take to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

What Starr does or does not say could upend her community and endanger her life. I think this book is amazing because it tackles real world issues. I think Angie is an amazing writer and I really felt a connection with down-to-earth Starr, being a teenager like her. In summary I would say this book is a gripping, interesting, must-read book. It kept me hooked and I loved every bit of the storyline. I can't wait to read more of Angie's books!

CATHY SAYS:
Thank you Cocoa&chats! Like you, I absolutely LOVED this book... it was moving, powerful and genuinely eye-opening. I think that Angie Thomas is a huge new talent. What's the best book YOU have read this year? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 7 September 2018

GABRIEL: MY SUMMER VOLUNTEERING IN GHANA!


Student Gabriel wanted to make her summer count - so she embarked on an adventure volunteering with other young people to build accommodation in a small village in Ghana!
This summer I decided to spend five weeks volunteering in Ghana with Lasallian Developing World Projects. The opportunity to become involved came when one of the charity's organisers came into school for interviews. I decided that such an experience would be so special - I could not waste the opportunity! I wanted to do something to help counter the poverty and inequality so prevalent in the world today. Of course, I could only make a little difference, but it made me realise that if everyone put in a small effort, big changes could be brought about.


The thought of venturing off to West Africa with eleven other students I didn’t yet know absolutely terrified me, but after a lot of thinking and talking to others, I decided to jump headfirst into this crazy adventure. To go on the expedition, I had to raise £1,600 (very good value, I reckon!). Raising the money was much less painful than I thought it would be. I wrote letters to many relatives and family friends who send generous donations. I also held two cake sales in school which was easy and enjoyable! My main fundraiser was a meal I held in a hired venue: about thirty people came and I made a good profit from that to achieve my target.
When I first arrived in Ghana, I felt very homesick, which was unsurprising given my introverted nature. But with the support of my group, I began to settle in and enjoy Africa. We were based in the village of Kaleo, near Wa, in the Savannah region, and our task was to help build accommodation for nuns, who were soon to be teaching in the school next door. Working in the heat every day was tough, but with good music and great company it was also fun! We made mortar, plastered door frames and formed water chains for the local builders.
I gained a huge sense of independence during my time in Ghana: walking into the town on my own to buy provisions; being cautious of health worries such as malaria; and cooking for ten people! It benefitted me personally in so many ways, whilst giving me the rewarding knowledge that I was helping a less privileged community. The local people we met were all so welcoming and friendly, making us feel at home all the time, and we made many friends from whom it was so difficult and sad to part!
Being in Ghana for five weeks certainly changed me and made me discover more about myself. I threw myself in far beyond my comfort zone, which showed me how strong and confident I could actually be. My eyes are much more open to the diversity which exists in the world. Being in Ghana also made me realise the importance of human connection: friendship is a huge part of the community in which we were staying.
I would highly recommend getting involved in a summer expedition such as this; it is rewarding and memorable, and has changed my outlook on life.

You can find out more about the organisers of this project here: http://www.delasalle.org.uk/ldwp/4586745771

Cathy says:
Wow... what an amazing experience! Those five weeks in Ghana must have been a challenge, but how  satisfying to know you've contributed something genuinely worthwhile! Do YOU ever dream of volunteering to help others? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Monday, 3 September 2018

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT SUMMER?

We asked YOU what your fave thing about summer is? Here's what YOU said!

Julie says:
 Simply the sun!

Ro says:
Everything slows down... time to read, rest, plan adventures!

Zara says:
This summer it's all about sunshine... I'm loving the heatwave, it feels like we haven't had a proper hot summer for so long. I think I am designed to live in a hot climate! Long may it last!

Katie says:
The best thing about summer is the release of new Cathy Cassidy books!!! *hugs Sami’s Silver Lining to my chest*

Sharon says:
The glistening of the sun on my face followed by rain drops cooling my skin.

Lindy says:
Longer days...

Priya says:
Travelling to see old friends and faraway family... and days spent doing fun, cool, unusual stuff. Holiday time is the best!

Helen says:
Reading in the sun!

Bev says:
Time to inhale whole books without pesky work getting in the way 🤣

Sophie says: 
The Edinburgh Book Festival! 😀

Sade says:
Having an excuse to drink fruity cocktails with ice!

Olivia says:
The best thing about summer is having tons of free time to read and relax...

Jodie says:
School holidays... otherwise known as FREEDOM!

Caitlin says:
Relaxing win the sun and bbqs with the family!

CATHY SAYS:
My fave summer things are festivals, friends and sunshine... and this summer has been packed with all three! What is YOUR favourite thing about summer? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

ROMESSA: DATE NIGHT WITH YOURSELF

Reader Romessa reminds us how important it is to leave time for yourself and that being by yourself is ok!

Romessa says:
I will let you into a little secret... date days or date nights with yourself  are basically days where you show yourself love and you appreciate yourself even if you feel like you can’t or that you don’t deserve to.

Let me tell you - and please believe me - you deserve lots of love and care. The whole idea of date days or nights for yourself is to let yourself heal from whatever you’re going through or it may be to help you feel better from those rough days. It will enable you to look at yourself and see that you do deserve more love, much more love than you are currently giving yourself. 

It is also up to you how many days or nights you set aside, I usually have one every Friday where I watch movies and just do things I enjoy like reading! Also Sundays are my date days where I will read, have a long bath and just eat lots of tasty food. Once or twice a month I will visit a coffee shop by myself. They make me so happy and I just sit there for a while with a nice book and switch off from the world around me. I love this time alone as it makes me feel happy and I realise that I do deserve to be alive and I do deserve these things. 

Dates by myself started when I started losing people, losing friends, losing people close to me... I got to a point where I wanted someone to just chill with or speak to. That was when I realised you need to enjoy your own company first before expecting anyone else to. Don’t get me wrong I love being around people and love going out with people and enjoy time with others but sometimes I need the time to revaluate what is going on in my personal life and just look after myself.

You may be in a relationship or seeing somebody and sometimes things get difficult and you need a time out.  It's ok. Go pamper yourself, get a coffee, eat junk food, sleep extra, go for a run, go for a walk, spend time with family (this is not by yourself but still healthy), binge watch a series, get to know yourself. 

Personally, I think spending some time away from others and by yourself will make you feel less stressed and will show you that no matter what goes on you still have yourself.

Cathy says:
What a fab idea! Introvert or extrovert, we all need time to ourselves and a lot of us tend to forget that. I love going on solo coffee dates, with a good book or to catch up on my emails. How do YOU like to treat yourself? Is it something you could be doing more? Let us know in the COMMENTS SECTION below...

Thursday, 23 August 2018

JODIE: MY REVIEW OF SAMI'S SILVER LINING!

Reader Jodie shares a gorgeous book review for SAMI'S SILVER LINING... read on and see why this book is making such a stir!

This book moved me to tears. Right from the start I was captured by Sami and his life journey. So many moments had me holding my breath in anticipation, and not wanting to put the book down. The way the coat becomes a link between Sami and his past is so beautiful, and I love the idea of him collecting silver trinkets and rubbish, in order to recreate the 'silver lining' idea. I loved all the note pages at the end of each chapter, taking us all back to those horrible days when life was so cruel and harsh and tragic and teaching us about the terrible refugee crisis. It made such an impact, just thinking about what things go on around the world, even today, that lots of us still have no clue about.

I have grown up reading Cathy’s books. Throughout my childhood they have helped me escape the struggles of my own life and lose myself in the lives of her wonderful characters. I love all of the Chocolate Box Girl series, and my absolute favourite books are LUCKY STAR and GINGERSNAPS. I can find myself relating to parts of each and everyone of the people in all of her books, and it made me cope with situations a lot better. Growing up with Cathy’s books to help me through made such a difference. I loved the fact that no matter what kind of day I’d had at school, or at home, I could just pick up a book, such as SCARLETT, and forget about my troubles, concentrating on the problems and tribulations of the character instead, putting my mind at ease, at least for a while, and escaping reality.

Growing up in a troubled home, and with a mental illness, I found my comfort in reading various books, and Cathy’s books always seemed to settle me the most, and were so easy to read. I adored reading, especially when I was going through primary school, and was into the young adult section before I even got into the double digit age!

Now, being twenty one, and reading Cathy’s books as an older reader, I can see so many more messages in the books that I perhaps didn’t always see as a younger reader. I love that even now, young girls can enjoy all of her books as much as I did, and relate to them. Cathy is my favourite author, not only because she is a super kind and cool person, but because no matter what age or gender you are, you can always get so much enjoyment out of the books, and recognise characteristics of yourself in the characters. They portray teenage life in such a realistic way, whilst at the same time sometimes being dramatic, and making you feel that maybe your life isn’t as bad as it seems.

Thank you for playing such a huge part in my childhood Cathy. Your books are going to be part of my collection forever.

Cathy says:
Oh wow... thank you Jodie for that amazing review! Have YOU read SAMI'S SILVER LINING yet? COMMENT BELOW to tell me more! 

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

KATIE: STARTING HIGH SCHOOL

Reader Katie has some words of wisdom for anyone stressing out about starting secondary school...


Katie says:
Starting high school can be a scary thought, but trust me, it won't be as bad as you imagine! All summer long I was worrying about starting a new school and dreading the first day. I was constantly stressing and worrying about what it would be like, but at the same time I had an excited feeling, like butterflies in my tummy. I liked the idea of having a new uniform, pencil case and bag, and buying these new school supplies actually really helped me. Just going round the shop, filling my basket with pens, pencils and notebooks helped me to feel more prepared.

The days went by so fast, and before I knew it summer was over and it was the night before my first day at secondary school. I had a very sleepless night and woke early. I put on my new white shirt, my new pleated skirt and pulled on my new black blazer and did up my newly polished shoes. My dad drove me to school that first day and I remember walking into the playground and right into the building where I would be spending the next five years of my life. It was a hectic day, but as the hours ticked by my nerves began to ebb away.

I made new friends and by the end of the week I pretty much knew my way around the building. That first week was great and I've enjoyed the weeks that followed even more. Don't be nervous on your first day at a new school - you CAN do it. Take the advice of someone who has done it too!

Cathy says:
I love this - Katie is very honest about her feelings, and her gentle reassurance should help new Year Sevens everywhere! Were YOU nervous on your first day at secondary school? COMMENT BELOW to share your tips for new Year Sevens!

Saturday, 18 August 2018

AUDITIONING FOR THE VOICE

Reader Fay tells us all about her recent experience of auditioning for The Voice... wow! Read on to see what happened!

FAY SAYS:
A few months ago, I spontaneously applied for The Voice UK after thinking,  I’ll be old enough next year why not? I put my name forward, sent a video clip in and applied. I completely forgot about it until a month or so later, when I got an email confirming that I’d managed to get an audition for the show in Manchester. By this point I was in the middle of GCSE exams and wasn’t sure whether to go ahead. I ended up calling one of my friends and explaining to them, and they basically told me do it or I'd regret it! I asked my mum if she would take me to Manchester  and she said she’d love to - which was good because as I’m under eighteen I had to have an adult with me. The audition date was two days after I finished my exams meaning I didn’t have much time to prepare, but I decided to go anyway just for the experience.

On the day we got up really early to get to Manchester for 11am. By the time we got to the audition I was really nervous, as it was hosted in a big, fancy hotel. We had to show our forms and our ID and were given name stickers and ID numbers before being directed to a waiting room. Every so often groups of ten people were called out for the first part of the audition. After fifteen minutes my name was called so my mum and I went to a smaller waiting room with my group of ten. I was nervous again because everyone else was over eighteen and I'd only just turned sixteen but I was determined do it anyway.

My mum waited outside while I went in. Once inside, there were chairs sat in a circle and a small table at the front of the room. The two people sat at the table were a vocal coach and a producer, both of whom were really lovely. We went around the circle including the two people at the table and said our names and an interesting fact about ourselves. Mine was that I was once in a pantomime with Basil Brush! After that we stood up to sing our pieces one at a time.

Because of the order of the list, I ended up being last out of my group to sing. Everyone was really good and I think all of them should have got through to the next stage. When it was my go, I stood up in the centre of the circle and said the name of the song - ‘Space Oddity’ by David Bowie. After I finished everyone clapped and then we all left for about five minutes while the producer and vocal coach talked. When we came back in we were told that only one person from our group had got through to the next stage, so we were told the name of who had got through and told that we should all come back next year If we didn’t get through this time.

I didn’t get through to the next part of the audition but I didn’t mind because for me it was a really good experience and proved I could hold my own with adult singers. Everyone in my group was really lovely and they had all wished me good luck before we went in and complimented me on my singing afterwards. All in all, the audition was a really good experience and I’m so glad I got the chance to go to it as it was so fun and wasn’t anywhere near as scary as I’d thought it’d be.

Cathy says:
Wow... what an experience! I hope Fay gives it another shot in the future, as her enthusiasm, talent and determination are sure to help her succeed! Have YOU ever had to audition for something? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Thursday, 16 August 2018

LUCIE: TEN THINGS TO DO THIS AUGUST!

If the summer holiday is rolling on and you're running out of things to do, check out reader Lucie's list of ten things to take life up a few gears!

1: Sleep in as late as you want to... and remember that in a few weeks, all this will just be a blissful memory!

2: Go swimming in the sea... it may require a trip on train or by bus to the nearest beach, but pack your swimsuit as well as your sun cream and catch some waves while the sun is shining!

3: Go to a music festival and dance in the sunshine to live music, even if it's just a small festival in your local town... or get together with some mates and put on your own live performance, 'LOST & FOUND' style!

4: Make your own ice lollies by freezing fruit juice with lolly sticks in... or if you have an ice cream maker, get creative and invent your own ice cream flavours!

5: Meet a friend in town and share an old fashioned 'Knickerbocker Glory' or 'Banana Split' ice cream sundae!

6: Play tennis in the park... it's great exercise and even better fun!

7:  Get together with friends and go on a bike ride to somewhere you've never been... take rucksacks with packed lunches, water, fruit and a map and make it an adventure!

8: Make lanterns from old jamjars and tea lights, and hang in the trees to brighten up the summer evenings... solar fairy lights work well too.

9: Take little brothers/ sisters/ cousins/ neighbours to the local paddling pool... and make a splash!

10: Make your own flavoured water by adding crushed mint and sugar to a pitcher and filling with cold water and lots of ice; or try adding lemon slices, orange slices or halved strawberries! Yum!

Cathy says:
Love these ideas from Lucie... August is a special month, so don't waste it... enjoy every minute! What are YOUR 'must do' things this month? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

MAWISH: I NEED A DOG IN MY LIFE!

Reader MAWISH really wants a pet dog but her parents don't agree... will Coco find a compromise for her?

MAWISH SAYS:

I really want a pet dog and keep mentioning it to my parents but they won’t listen! They keep making excuses why it wouldn’t be suitable. It makes me really sad because I’d look after it and walk it all the time. Is there a way I can show them how responsible I’d be?

COCO SAYS:
I like that you are trying to find a solution to this dilemma by finding ways to show your parents that you can be responsible... and a great way to do this would be to volunteer at a local animal shelter. The animals always need walking and cleaning out, and you'd soon see how much work is involved in having a dog and know for sure whether you'd be up for the task! This may convince your parents that a new addition to the family would work - in which case, I'd recommend a rescue dog, as they're often every bit as adorable and loving as a pedigree.

However... what if your parents still say no? They may just not want a dog, and perhaps no amount of campaigning on your behalf will change that. Not every family is suited to keeping a dog... perhaps someone is allergic, or you live in a small flat, or everyone is out at school or work all day and there's nobody to exercise the dog? If your family remain against the idea, the only way forward is to accept their decision and keep on volunteering at the animal shelter, or offer to walk the dogs of neighbours who may appreciate an extra hand. That way you get to bond with the dogs and deepen your knowledge of how to care for them, and one day when you have a household of your own you can welcome a pet in, safe in the knowledge that it will be wanted, loved and well cared for. Good luck... let me know how it goes!

CATHY SAYS:
Good advice from Coco... do YOU agree? COMMENT BELOW to add your own advice for Mawish!

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

MY NAME, MY STORY...

We asked CC readers with very cool names to share the stories of how they came to have those names... their stories are just awesome!

ZIVA SAYS:
When my mum was pregnant she thought I was going to be a boy. She had picked out a name and chosen all the stuff for my room but when she discovered I was a girl she said she wanted to pick a name that would be different. She also wanted my name to be strong and independent just like she hoped I would be. (She says I am!) Her favourite TV show NCIS had a character in called Ziva who was very independent and never took any messing - but she was also very kind. So that is how I became Ziva. My name is from the Hebrew and it means brilliance/ brightness. If you spell it with an e instead of an I it means 'warrior princess' and that is appropriate too... when I was a baby I was very poorly and I nearly died. The staff at the RVI said even though I had an i and not an e in my name,  I was still a warrior princess to them!


AMAZING SAYS:
My name is Amazing. I was called this because when my mum went to the hospital to give birth to me I wasn't forthcoming... the doctors decided to allow some time for things to progress, but agreed to decide on a plan in case the birth was not going to go well. So the doctors came back with a plan of what to do - and then at the last minute I was born naturally after all, and the doctors said, 'That was amazing!' And so I was called Amazing! I love my name because it's unique and I love the sound of it. The good comments people make about my name are nice, like 'That's a lovely name...' This just makes me feel special! Buuuuuut the thing I hate is when people make puns and jokes using my name on PURPOSE. Sometimes people do this by accident which is OK and I don't mind that, but you can always tell when they are doing it on purpose. Anyway... I love my name and I will never ever wish for any other! 


BROCHA SAYS:
My name is Brocha. If your having trouble reading my name, don’t worry as most people generally do! Brocha means 'blessing' in Hebrew, and even though my parents aren’t at all religious, I guess they just seemed to like the name, and it clicked. Throughout my life I’ve been called everything, and now at this point I tend to expect to laugh when people say my name. Because by now I just know they won’t say it right! When I was younger I hated my name. I hated being different and not having a normal name like most girls I knew. But now I'm older, I guess having such a weird name helps get my voice heard. People can’t ignore me, And I definitely make most people look twice when my name is on a list of some sort. But then again, my name suits my personality, as I am loud and unusual and there certainly are very few like me! I guess it took me a while to get used to having to repeat my name to most people before they properly know me, but now I’ve just grown into it. Everyone knows me as 'Brocha' and they accept me for 'Brocha.' My name is just a label... in reality it’s your personality that matters most!

CATHY SAYS:
Such lovely stories... and great insights into three wonderful personalities! I love unusual names... do YOU have a cool or unusual name? Would you like to tell us more about it for the DREAMCATCHER blog? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

YOUR STARS FOR SEPTEMBER

With the shifting of seasons, we all need a little guidance from the stars. Skye predicts once more, your future!  LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 2...