Sunday, 16 June 2019


Another in our cool series on careers - talented vocalist Georgia Rae is carving out a successful career as a musician. Read on to find out how!

Georgia Rae says:
My job is entertaining people. I am a professional vocalist and everything that I do for work involves music. I was born into music as my parents both perform for fun, and now I am lucky enough to say that something that I am so passionate about is my “job”. I am only twenty two years old so this is the start of my journey, I am just getting going but it is still so amazing that I have the support from my family to make this my career. As a child, I dreamt big. I always wanted to be a heart surgeon and it was only as I started to do my GCSE’s that I realised that science wasn’t my strength. Although I had been performing since I was seven years old, I only came to notice that I could sing whilst my friend was having singing lessons. It appeared that I naturally picked things up very quickly and so we started to sing in lessons together. Back then, I never would have thought that I would be in the position that I am in now

It all started when a performing arts university came to my school to hold after school sessions with pupils who were committed. I remember auditioning and thinking 'That was awful, why did my teacher ever suggest such a thing?' A month or so down the line I was attending stage school on Saturdays in Liverpool, playing key roles in my school productions and had chosen Music, Dance and Drama for my GCSE’s (which some teachers thought was absolutely ridiculous!). I can’t thank my performing arts and dance teachers enough for believing in me when I didn’t. It was a whirlwind from there on. Next thing I know, I’m performing in an ensemble around the UK and was preparing for competitions in The Netherlands. This career path wasn’t an accident, I have tried and trained so hard for a long time and I still have a long way to go!

You don’t need any exam passes or qualifications to become a professional singer. However, I did study music all the way to receiving my first class degree in music and I have grown so much as a person and a performer through music education! A love for music, hard work, dedication and a whole lot of passion will take you to great places. For me, there is no typical week. Every single day is different from the next! The one consistent thing in my life is that I wake up and get to make music that I love! I teach during the week, rehearse alone and in numerous ensembles, spend time writing new material, I travel to be a part of my acoustic duo, Afterglow Acoustic, both for rehearsals and gigs, I perform during the weekends both as a solo artist and with Afterglow Acoustic at events such as weddings, birthdays, charity events, local promotions and corporate events, and finally I spend a lot of time acting as a booking agent for both acts, dealing with all enquiries, making sure that all bookings are in order and that the client is getting the best from us.

Music is very rewarding, the fact that my weeks are never the same keep it interesting and as a creative I get bored quite easily doing the same thing over and over, so it is ideal for me! I love tutoring and seeing my students achieve something and watching their faces light up and leave my lesson on cloud nine. Getting that review after a performance is great, whether it be verbal or in written, it is always a great feeling knowing that you’ve pleased your audience. I have so many dreams and plans for the future. I am currently working on my own music and aim to release this within the next year, something that I have never done before and I am so so excited! The only downside is that I often spend a lot of time alone and there is a certain level of insecurity - you never know where your next job could be! I find both of these very hard, I hate being alone and I am a planner so hate uncertainty!

My advice for readers who would like to follow a similar path? Go for it!! Put 100% into everything that you do! Take inspiration from others, this will make you want to try harder - but never compare your self to others - be yourself.

Follow Georgia Rae's Facebook music page here:

Cathy says:
Wow! I love Georgia Rae's story and hope it can inspire my younger readers who might like a career in music too... amazing! What's YOUR dream career? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 14 June 2019


Reader Grace is mad about the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series... check out her quick, fun fact file on the five sisters!

Grace says:
I love The Chocolate Box Girls!! My favourites are Honey and Cherry. I've read CHERRY CRUSH, MARSHMALLOW SKYE, SUMMER'S DREAM, BITTERSWEET, COCO CARAMEL and SWEET HONEY - I am reading FORTUNE COOKIE at the moment. This is what I think about the main characters...

Cherry Costello: Nice, kind, friendly (even to Honey), tries to get along with Honey, and likes telling stories. 

Loves: Gypsy caravan, Shay Fletcher, Paddy, Skye, Summer, Coco, Charlotte and Kiko, her room at Tanglewood, stories about Sakura.

Skye Tanberry: Shy, kind, nice, friendly, gets along with everyone in the family. 

Loves: Going back in time, Jamie Finch, Charlotte, Paddy, Greg, Summer, Coco, Honey, Cherry, being with Millie.

Summer Tanberry: Kind, friendly, nice, hardworking, anxious, thin. 
Loves: Ballet, Paddy, Charlotte, Greg, Skye, Coco, Honey, Cherry, Alfie Anderson, flower from Alfie, having a Valentine's birthday and Tia.

Coco Tanberry: Kind, shy, nervous, worried about saving the earth.
Loves: Charlotte, Paddy, Greg, Skye, Summer, Honey, Cherry, Sarah, Amy, Jayde, Lawrie Marshall, animals, Caramel, Spirit and Star.

Honey Tanberry: Moody, selfish, impulsive but sometimes kind and caring. 

Loves: Charlotte, Greg, Skye, Summer, Coco, Ash, Riley, Bennie, Tara, Skype, Australia and Emma. 

Jake Cooke: Scared of leaks, clumsy, scared, nice, caring.
Loves: Alison, Greg, Skype, Skye, Summer, Coco, Cherry, Paddy, Honey, Charlotte, Maisie, Isla, Chinatown, Kitnor.

Cathy says:
I love Grace's verdict on the main characters... what do YOU think? Is there anything you'd add or disagree with? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 9 June 2019


Heart-wrenchingly honest blog from Skylar, about discovering his true identity - and coming to terms with it...

Skylar says:
I think I was sixteen when I first learned what being trans meant. I wasn’t really familiar with the concept before that – if you’d asked me what a transgender person was, I probably would have said something about men wearing dresses. I had very little idea what the word meant - it just wasn’t talked about in my small Scottish town. I spent most of my life very confused up until I was sixteen, with no words to describe exactly how I was feeling. I had this overwhelming sense that I didn’t belong anywhere; no matter who I spoke to or how I dressed, nothing felt right. I remember telling a friend once that I would have preferred to have been “born a boy”. I had no idea what that meant for me - I just thought that I was stuck being a girl because that’s what I had to be, no other option.

At sixteen, I stumbled across an online blog written by a trans person. That’s where it all started. From the moment I started reading, it was like I’d finally cleared the fog in my head. Everything made sense. Why I never felt like I belonged, why I had so many insecurities about my body, why I identified with boy characters in books more than the girls. I realised that there were others who felt how I felt. It was amazing, realising that you didn’t have to identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. I finally had the language to describe how I was feeling. I'd been questioning my gender identity for years without realising. At college, there was a LGBTQIA group and I spoke to a youth worker who helped me unpack the thoughts I was having. It took months to feel comfortable identifying as trans. I spent a long time trying out different pronouns and names in my head, trying to figure it all out. The first time I heard someone else call me “him” it was the most validating experience ever. I kept replaying it in my head for the rest of the day!

I officially came out as trans to all of my friends and family when I was eighteen. I came out to close friends first, and received an overwhelmingly supportive response from almost everyone. I then came out to my family. They struggled to accept it, especially my mum, and I felt very rejected. A lot of other circumstances were in play, and I ended up leaving home suddenly and becoming homeless. Around the same time I  learned first hand that being trans came with its hardships - healthcare professionals were sometimes ignorant and discriminatory, people online had so much hate to spread, and not everyone I came out to respected my new identity. It was one of the hardest times of my life, but I received continuous support from LGBT Youth Scotland, and from my new found community of fellow trans people, which made it a little easier. But it was still a very long time before I got over the pain of feeling like my identity was a burden on others. Years later, after rebuilding my relationship with my family, I know that they didn’t mean any harm. There was a lot going on at home already, and it was just a bit too much all at once. My mum and I understand each other a lot more now, and she’s one of my biggest supporters. She uses the right name and pronouns, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her for rethinking her world view for me.

I’d encourage any young people reading this that think they may be gay, bi, trans, non-binary or are questioning who they are even a little bit, to know that it gets easier. That’s such a common phrase that I feel it’s became a stereotype, but it’s so true. It didn’t get better for me for a while, and it was definitely baby steps when things did start looking up. But I wouldn’t change any of it. All of the hardship, the questioning, the negative reactions, the turbulent living situations - it made me stronger and more sure of myself in the end. Look for communities online or in your area where you might be able to find a sense of belonging. Look for youth/support groups you can attend in your area - you might be surprised at the resources you can find with a little research!

I’m now in a place where I’m surrounded by people who validate my identity, and when I run into people who disrespect it, I’m able to brush it off. I know who I am, so why let a stranger’s words change that? It takes a while to get there - it’s easy to get wrapped up in the negative things people have to say, especially online. But I promise you, all you have to do is look a little harder, and there are countless people ready to provide their support and kindness. Is absolutely everyone in the world ready for us? No, maybe not. But they will be! One day, they will be.

Photos courtesy of Pexels.

Cathy says:
Skylar's story is so honest and heartfelt - it has clearly taken a lot of courage to share, and I hope it helps others to understand more what it feels like to be trans. Do YOU have any words of support for Skylar? COMMENT BELOW to share your thoughts...

Friday, 7 June 2019


Another in our regular series on cool careers... we talk to Marilyne, an archaeologist living in France!

Marilyne says:
I decided I would be an archaeologist when I was six and began to spend summers volunteering at sites when I was sixteen. I studied at the universities in Nancy and Lyon - I wanted to study Mesopotamian history, but it was not possible, so, as I loved the Middle-Ages, I decided to study the Merovingian and Carolingian eras. In France, we have some good laws protecting archaeological sites - before starting a building project, we check that there are no archaeological remains there, so that sites are no longer destroyed without study on our part.

Archaeology is a very difficult job - it is very far from the myth of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones. It's a very physical and exhausting job, in any weather, rain or snow, and the salary is low, even with lots of diplomas. But…archaeology is my passion as well as my job. My brain is split in two: a part that lives here, today, and an other part that lives in the past with the Merovingians. I am still wondering how they lived, what did they look like! I have managed very beautiful projects and written many articles, but my best discovery is what newspapers have named : une bouteille à la terre, a bottle to the ground!!! On a site of the Merovingian era, we found a bottle with a letter dating from 1918. A letter, intact in its envelope, posted to Oklahoma city from an aunt writing to her nephew coming to war in France and posted in Lorraine. It was such a moment of emotion!

Sadly, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia so I can not search anymore or do the hard physical work of an archaeologist. I tried to think about another job, but I can’t leave… this is a passion, it’s under the skin. What do I do now everyday ? I read and correct the reports of the others, write historical records and do documentary and archival research. Sometimes, I imagine I could write books, stories about my Merovingians.

A tip to give to someone who would like to be an archaeologist? To start archaeological digs early.
It's the only way to know if the passion is really there. If it is, to prepare for an exciting but weary job, poorly paid… but if you have the passion, you will feel alive. You have to love the outdoors, but it's so much better than being locked in an office!

More details about archeology in France :

Cathy says:
I LOVE this blog! As a teen, I dreamed of being an archaeologist, and later on my son had the same dream too, although he eventually took a different direction. Thank you Marilyne for sharing your love of this career with us - and please, write those books... I for one would read them! What is YOUR dream career? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 3 June 2019


Skye Tanberry is back to bring you your horoscope for June... check out your starsign to see what could be in store!!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
You have been working so hard recently and your efforts have not been in vain! Be proud of all that you have accomplished and don’t forget to stop and take time for yourself! Like Cathy, your birthday will be coming up this month, so make sure that you plan something that you want to do with your friends and family. And try to have the best birthday ever!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Although being loyal to your friends is extremely important, if you notice that they have done something wrong, don’t be afraid to tell them - gently! A true friend will always listen and not be mad at you for expressing how you truly feel. If they don’t value your honesty, then they aren’t worth it.

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
If you are dying to go on holiday this summer, but don’t have enough money, then try to plan something low key, but make it special! A trip to the park is good, but a surprise picnic is even better! Why not treat someone you love to a small surprise day out?

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Hard work is essential if you want to be successful, but remember to take time to stop and smell the roses. Try to make time for yourself and those around you. A day off once in a while will balance out your life and really help you to unwind!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
It may be fun to hang around with your friends all the time; but don’t forget about your family! It would make their day to know that you want to spend time with them once in a while too.

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Try not to be jealous of people that have it better than you. Try to turn any jealous thoughts into productivity, that will be your drive in to getting you what you want most. And see how you can learn from those you envy!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
Patience is a virtue, but it can also be really frustrating! Don’t worry though, the thing that you want will be worth the wait!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
If you come across something that is broken, don’t think of it as a piece of rubbish. Think of it as a special project, that you can turn in to something beautiful!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Compromise can be hard, but with compromise can sometimes come the happiest outcome. So try not to think of it as a bad thing, try to think of it as a win for both sides.

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Remember that it is okay to be scared, but don’t let fear rule your life! Make sure to get out there, even if perhaps you feel a little overwhelmed. You can conquer your fear and come out better for it,  on the other side!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are likely to succeed this month, but don’t be too impulsive! It’s essential to think through the outcome of each decision before you make it.

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Sometimes you may not feel like sharing your things, be it sweets or ideas, to other students in your class. But if you start sharing more, then you may find that you receive more than you give away!

Cathy says:
Ooh, I actually got a name check in the Gemini horoscope this month! Thanks, Skye! Do Skye's predictions seem accurate for YOU this time? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 31 May 2019


Two American readers share their memories of how CC books shaped their teenage years...

Khelsea says:
I was gifted DIZZY one year for Christmas at around eight years old. I was obsessed with it. I read it at least five times, and then I was eventually gifted INDIGO BLUE and SCARLETT as well. I did multiple book fair projects on these books, and even won a few trophies for them. The topics covered in these books were topics that were sensitive, yet necessary. I had never experienced a transient life, but by reading these books, I was able to understand the characters and even extend it to real life. I am so thankful for CC books. Now, at the age of twenty one, I am less than a year away from graduating college with a degree with English Education. I have hopes of teaching middle school and being able to impact students year after year. Now, as a senior, I am starting to begin to teach my own lessons. CC books will be taught in my classroom - I am doing a mini-lesson of SCARLETT now, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. The themes of these books are entertaining and cause the read to be empathetic towards the characters. So... Cathy Cassidy, thank you so much for writing DIZZY and for being my favourite childhood author!

Christy says:
As a child Cathy Cassidy was my FAVORITE author and honestly when I'm asked, I still say the same. Cathy changed my life. I was in an awful situation when I discovered her books at a Barnes and Noble during my father's visitation days. I found the website and emailed her, and was SO surprised when she responded time and time again. Cathy inspired me to keep going through my hard times and I could never thank her enough. As a young child going through the hardest time in my life, having my favourite author tell me to follow my dreams and to keep going, did exactly that. I'm twenty years old now. I found CC books when I was twelve, nine years ago. I was recently  talking to a girlfriend about the most influential people in my life and this happened to come up and I decided to email Cathy Cassidy and explain how thankful I am for everything. Honestly, I think these books saved my life. SCARLETT is still to this day my favourite book and I'll cherish my hardback forever! Thank you for taking the time out back then to respond to a little girl with way too much to handle.

Cathy says:
Awww... I love hearing from my older readers, it makes all the hard work worthwhile! It's lovely to see the US covers again, too! Is there a CC book that means the world to YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Tuesday, 28 May 2019


Next in our series of posts about cool and interesting careers options, we chat to Stephanie, who looks after nursery aged children!

Stephanie says:
I am a Early Years Practitioner - sometimes known as a nursery nurse! The nursery I work at is part of a chain with nurseries across London, Norfolk and Cambridge, and I am currently based in a 2-3 year old room, looking after up to fifteen toddlers a day. What I like about my job the most is watching the children grow into their own little people - it’s incredibly rewarding to see a child  do something for the first time, such as put their own shoes on, or catch a ball! As a child myself I wanted to go into teaching, which isn’t too far from what I do now! At first I wanted to teach secondary, then primary, and now I’m in a nursery! I’ve gone backwards with the age group but the line of work I have wanted to be in has always been to work in education and childcare.

I got into nursery work through an apprenticeship. After completing my first year of A-Levels at Sixth Form, I decided I wanted to work, but due to my age I had to remain in education in some way. I managed to find an apprenticeship in a local nursery where I would work full-time whilst studying my Level 2 in Childcare. To get into this apprenticeship, I didn’t need to have passed my Maths and English at school (luckily I got at least a C in both) as the apprenticeship offers functional skills in English and Maths, which is taught to you through your tutor, and you can take the exam as many times as needed until you pass. To work with children, you need to have a lot of patience. Every child is different and are all at different developmental stages, meaning some need extra support. Being good at communication is key, and although I started off a bit shy, I soon learned to chat more, which is essential when needing to pass on information about a child, and also when it comes to telling parents about their child’s day at nursery!

No two weeks in a nursery are ever the same. Every day, we welcome parents and children in, assist with the handover, giving a child reassurance when needed. We are highly child-orientated, meaning that we set up activities and toys based on what the children are interested in. We also plan activities that we would like run with the children, in order for them to learn and try new things. Every week, we complete observations on each child, where we either just watch what a child is doing, or run an activity with them, and write it either in a paper journal or an online journal. This enables us to show where they are in certain areas of development (known as the Early Years Foundation Stage) and know how to support them all the way from being a baby, right up until they go to school!

I am currently in the third nursery I’ve worked in, and I am still working towards new careers. I have just started my Level 3 childcare, and once that is completed I will be studying a degree in Early Years at my local university. I am hoping to work towards becoming a Family Support Worker - someone who works with families who have been referred to social services. Family Support Workers will work alongside a family to make sure that their best interests are kept in mind, and helping them reach services that will enable this.

The only downside to my work is that if you work full time, the hours can be long. I work a forty hour week, five days a week. Juggling this with studying for my Level 3 isn’t always easy, but I make the most of my bus journey to work each day to keep studying, and sometimes use the library that is next door to my work to study on lunch breaks. If you would like to go into working in the Early Years, there are various options. You could study your qualifications at college, complete an apprenticeship, or if you’re in a different line of work currently, speak to a nursery about training, as they are generally very good at taking on unqualified staff and training them if you can show you have the passion and drive to help the children grow!

Cathy says:
This is wonderful! Not an easy job, but such a rewarding one... thank you Stephanie for sharing your experiences! Have YOU ever thought of working with children? COMMENT BELOW to share your thoughts!

Thursday, 23 May 2019


Talented young writer Caitlin, thirteen, shares a gorgeous  short story to add a little magic to your bank holiday weekend! Read on...

I am here to tell you the story of the first dragon. Or at least, the first on Earth.

He was not so remarkable, to his own species, but to us, he seemed extraordinary. He was a pale blue, with the occasional white splotch. His body was long and serpentine, stretching into a thin whip of a tail. A single row of blue and white feathers ran down his spine, with a similar burst of quills at the tip of his tail. His four wings were like those of a bird of prey - long and sleek, built for speed and agility. They folded close to his sides, almost invisible against his scales, if you caught him in shadow.

Of course, he is far larger than anything we could easily imagine. One feather of his would bridge oceans.

All those long years, gazing at stars, creating religions based on them, making predictions of our futures using their paths - and we never looked closely enough at the moon. If we had, maybe we would have noticed the similarities between the moon and a simple egg. If we had dug a little deeper, gone beneath the surface, we might have found him. Curled inside, sleeping. Waiting. Not ready, yet.
The first sign back on earth was a kind of earthquake. But it was different - softer, muted somehow. While an earthquake is the violent shattering of reality in panic and screaming, what we experienced when the moon hatched was more like we were in a snow globe, being shaken slowly from side to side.

We gathered outside our buildings, staring into the night sky. The moon was huge and low, glowing a brighter white than we had ever seen it. It shook slightly, a hairline fracture appearing on the surface.
Of course, we panicked. Some ran. Some hid. Some just stood and watched, whether it be through the sheer inability to move or through curiosity. Inside his shell, the first dragon was scratching away at the inner wall. He started with a tiny horn on his nose, like a baby bird might. An egg tooth. Designed for breaking through the shell quickly and efficiently. Even with this, it took him hours before he managed to push away a chunk big enough for us to see a single bright golden eye.

After that, it was quite quick. He peeled away further and further, until he could crawl through the hole. He clung to the moon, seeing it as the only land. But without him, it was just an empty eggshell, and it fell into space and drifted from our vision. He hovered for a second, panicked, before heading our way. Then, even those who had been frozen before decided to move.

He landed on Australia, obliterating it completely and causing massive tsunamis along the coasts of Africa and Asia, as most of his body was submerged in the Indian Ocean.

Huh? I’m halfway through a lecture now, I can’t really talk - Oh.

Sorry, but I seem to have got the wrong time. Apparently this hasn’t happened yet in your reality.
This is why I don’t use time travel bracelets much, but you see, officer, I’d missed my train and needed a few more minutes - I must have put the wrong date in, changed the year a bit by accident -
Hey! Careful, I’m a respected researcher!

The researcher was dragged away in cuffs by a masked officer, and by the next day, anyone who attended the lecture had forgotten it completely, their heads filled with false memories of days well spent.

Except me. I wrote it down as he spoke.

Now, I have to go - I have a flight to catch. Sydney to London, one way ticket. I don’t feel quite safe in Australia any more.

To read more of Caitlin's stories, check out her Wattpad here:

Cathy says:
Wow... this is SO beautifully written, and so clever and original - thank you, Caitlin! Should we have more short stories on DREAMCATCHER? What do YOU think? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 19 May 2019


Young Graphic Designer Katie shares her insights into a career in art and advertising...

Katie says: 
I’ve always liked to illustrate and design. And because of how modern our world is becoming, with technology and how it is influencing our industry, I thought it made sense to go into digital design. I remember being asked as a kid where I saw myself as an adult and I remember saying 'advertising'. I never thought that it would actually happen when I grew up!. I have to admit though, it's a lot more work than I anticipated. I have many late nights and not many days off when I have a big project coming up, but it’s all worth it in the end, because I have managed to achieve my dream. My parents are both artists and as I have grown up with their influence and their talent, I had a very strong advantage with my art, when I was first starting out.

I became a graphic designer very unexpectedly when I was eighteen. I was reading a newspaper on a train, and it had an advert for an apprenticeship to a top advertising agency in London. I applied and did loads of interviews and tests and somehow landed the job! I wasn’t quite expecting to get the job, so when I did and I had to move, it was all very fast and shocking, but exciting!

I work on print adverts that you see on billboards and bus stops for brands such as McDonalds, Kleenex, Nespresso, Kit-Kat, Rowntrees, Calpol, L'Oréal and many more! I also do digital and social design for some of these brands and so many others. My work also includes branding, typography and illustration.

Graphic design takes you to all sorts of different places, I’ve worked in  London, Amsterdam, Manchester, Liverpool - all over the place! A few years ago, I decided to start my own business so I moved to York, as city life was starting to get me down. I set up a business creating ukeleles ( ). But I missed the graphic design, so I’m now back in my home city, Liverpool, where I do plenty of freelance design, which still takes me back to London and other places like Manchester.

Working for a company was good, but working freelance for myself suits me a lot better, as I get to choose and work on lots of projects at the same time. In the future, I would like to travel more with my design.  I would love to be able to see the world through my work. And I find that one of the true joys of my job is that I am continuing to learn as I go along and I am continually growing as a designer.

Cathy says:
I love Katie's sneak peek into the world of Graphic Design... it's inspiring to see how a love of drawing can become a challenging and exciting career! What is YOUR dream job? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Friday, 17 May 2019


Reader Kerry shares her tips to live a greener life to help fight climate change - so cool, and much easier than you think!

1) Buy local!
Do you know how many miles that mango has travelled to end up on your plate? 4,674 (on average.) And that avocado? 4,407 (again, give or take.) Eek! I know what you’re thinking… “Gee, that’s a lot of fuel burned just so I can eat this juicy, fashionable breakfast.” Sadly, although its really yummy, cargo ships are one of the largest contributors to climate change. That’s why buying local produce from local businesses can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint, plus you’re helping out your neighbour!

2) Recycle!
This one’s pretty easy, these days. Most councils have a recycling service, but you can recycle way more than they say you can! Just take a minute to find out if you can re-use an item - and use your imagination. Creating art or using old fabrics to make new items of clothing are great ways to recycle.

3) Clothes swap!
The high-street fashion industry encourages us to chuck the old to make room for the latest fashion trend, pretty much on a seasonal basis if not more. Did you know the UK throws around 300,000 tonnes of textiles into landfill every year? That’s on average eight items of clothing per person straight in the bin!

4) Eat less meat!
Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to scientists. Beef consumption is the big offender. Cows. Their digestive system produces methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide, and their manure emits additional greenhouse gasses. No one is saying to go full vegan here… but just be aware. Maybe start by having one day a week meat free and see how you go from there?

5) Compost!
Obviously not wasting food in the first place is important, but sometimes there will be a little food waste leftover. Instead of throwing it in the bin, use a separate green bin, or a larger compost bin outside. This will eventually turn into new soil which can be used to plant your own veg. Thus the cycle continues!

6) Protect bees!
The majority of our fruit and veg relies on honey bees and other insects to pollinate them. Without them, we would lose around a third of the food in our supermarkets. I can’t stress how important they are! Why not create a bee-friendly garden? Plant loads of beautiful flowers for the bees to pollinate and feel at home in. And support your local beekeepers by buying local honey!

7) Cut out plastic!
Replacing plastic bags with fabric ‘tote’ bags is an obvious one but also there’s a growing movement to remove un-needed plastic from supermarket foods and giving it back to the shop! Another great way to reduce your plastic use is to say no to plastic cutlery or straws. Any single-use plastic should be avoided at all cost.

8) Make-do and mend!
Repairing or fixing something is more environmentally friendly than simply throwing it away, although it may seem easier and cheaper at the time. With the internet so accessible, there is little excuse not to figure out a bit of DIY. And if it’s beyond fixing, can it be turned into something else?

9) Eco-friendly cleaning products!
Cleaning products contain some of the most harmful chemicals for the oceans and also for your own health. Fear not, there are some fab new brands such as Method or Ecover who don’t use micro-plastics or microbeads. Get on it!

10) Use eco personal hygiene products!
High-street brand Lush do a fantastic range of non-chemical products which we recommend checking out - try their shampoo bars for glossy, conditioned locks without a yukky plastic bottle to chuck away at the end. Not too expensive either, so there’s no excuse! It's even easier to ditch the bottled shower gel for a bar of soap... the Body Shop have some fab options!

Cathy says:
I'm trying to cut down on plastics and pollution myself, and love these clever tips. I can vouch for the Lush shampoo bars, too! Do YOU have any tips on going green to save the planet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 13 May 2019


Reader Abigail writes about what CC books meant to her growing up... and what they mean to her now!

Abigail says:
Though it’s the middle of August, it was rainy today in the little town of Sintra, my hometown,  despite the rest of Portugal being sunny and bright. So I decided to nestle into my couch with a mug of tea and a blanket and watch Chocolat, a movie I’ve been meaning to watch for years, since CC referenced it in INDIGO BLUE. It has very quickly become one of my favorite movies, as so much of it reminds me of her books, of my childhood. The tiny chocolate boxes wrapped in string that Viviane sells, the chocolate fortunes... they remind me so much of CHERRY CRUSH and I absolutely adored it.

So I am currently in a bubble bath, re-reading the first book of the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series and eating chocolate chips, and I’m remembering things. This year, I finished high school, and I’ll be moving to Scotland to study psychology at the university of Edinburgh once September comes around (these books were actually a subtle driving force for me to study in the UK, believe it or not!!)

Anyways, I’m remembering my twelfth birthday, when a box appeared on my doorstep that my mom had ordered, filled to the brim with the books I had asked for,  CC books that I still didn’t have in my collection at the time (ANGEL CAKE, GINGERSNAPS, LUCKY STAR, CHERRY CRUSH, and others) and I just remember that day so fondly. Or when my dad came home from a book fair when I was ten with a copy of DIZZY in Portuguese, and how I fell in love with the gypsy festivals and the characters, and how I talked about it with everyone in my class...

I’m  just glad I have CC books in my life. They are so, so comforting to me and I will continue to re read them when I’m sad or anxious or nervous. They bring me home. So thank you, Cathy!

Aww... this post is so sweet. My older readers are just lovely, and often share their appreciation in this way... it never fails to make me  happy and grateful! Do YOU have a fave CC book? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 12 May 2019


Amanda's talent for languages led her to a varied and fulfilling job in international customer services...

Amanda says:
I grew up in the Netherlands, and languages have always been my passion. Before I started my current job, I had been working as a self-employed translator in France. However, this was not my dream job. I decided that I needed a place to go to and colleagues around me every day. I was not keen on being self-employed. I felt that the work never stopped, because I was working from home - and I was also struggling to earn enough money to pay my rent.

When I applied for a job in Customer Service at, it was a last resort to try and save my future in France. To my surprise and relief, I was hired. If you had told me ten years ago that I would work in customer service one day, I'd have told you that you were crazy. I was very shy, so I never thought it would be the right job for me. But it actually is! I work in an international environment with people from all over the world. I am part of a great team and we do our best to achieve our goals each day. I speak, write, read and hear foreign languages all day, every day, whereas I only wrote and read foreign languages when I was working as a translator.

The switch to this job was eighteen months ago and I couldn't be happier now. I help people experience the world by answering their questions and solving issues with their travel reservations. The reward when someone is happy after what you've done for them is happiness!

If you are struggling to find your way career-wise, hang in there. Dare to try something new. Get out of your comfort zone. The perfect thing might be waiting for you just around the corner, but sometimes it requires patience and a lot of effort to find it. Stay positive and never give up!

Cathy says:
I love this... it proves that a skill for languages can be applied to many different kinds of job, and that even a shy person can shine in the world of customer services! What would YOUR dream job be? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 11 May 2019


I get a lot of cool emails, messages and letters from readers. I wanted to share this one from reader Amy, because it made me cry... 

Amy says:
I have constantly gone over in my mind about whether or not I should send you a letter. And, at 1:49 am in the morning on the 14th April 2019 I have finally decided to do so. My name is Amy, and I am eighteen years old. For years I have constantly wondered how I would start my letter to you. I have always wondered what I should write, how I should write to you or when I should write to you. You are possibly wondering why I am writing to you.

I am writing to you because you changed my life. I know it sounds extreme in saying that but is entirely the truth. Everything that I am is because I read your books as a kid. Ultimately I just want to thank you - a massive thank you!

As a child I was told by teachers I would amount to nothing. My reading and my writing would be terrible. I would fail at everything. That is what they told my mum, but all that changed the day I picked up SCARLETT.

It is possible that my words may mean nothing to you but your words have meant everything to me. Your books have taught me so much. They have taken me to different places. They have been my escape for the past decade. I am so incredibly grateful to you. My love for reading and writing started the day I read Scarlett and it will never stop till the day I die.

SCARLETT taught me the importance of learning to accept people and to stop holding grudges. It also taught me I wanted an Irish boyfriend with a horse called Kian. LUCKY STAR taught me the importance of learning to accept my own scars. SUNDAE GIRL showed me the dangers of alcohol and the importance of a loving family. MARSHMALLOW SKYE taught me the value of being different. SUMMER'S DREAM taught me the importance of expressing your feelings. DIZZY taught me the importance of just enjoying life in a moment.

Your characters and stories are wonderful. Every book that I have read by you is dear to me.
They have changed me. Everything that I am is because I read SCARLETT. She had such a big impact on my life. I have read that book many, many, many, many times. Every time I read it, it is like coming home. Most people have HARRY POTTER as their first books. I have SCARLETT. I will forever treasure that book. I will treasure all of those books... and I can't begin to imagine how different my life would be if I had not picked up SCARLETT that day.

Cathy says:
THANK YOU Amy for your lovely words... they make all of the hard work worthwhile. Gulp! Do YOU have a book that changed your life? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday, 5 May 2019


Jessica says: 
My passion to work with marine life has quite a funny origin! When I was eleven my Nan gave me a copy of Endless Ocean, a video game for the Nintendo Wii. In the game, you play as a scuba diver and learn about amazing animals and I knew from then on, what I wanted to do with my life! I'm now qualified with a BSc in Marine Vertebrate Zoology, but that's not currently my job title! I went into this line of study after working hard in school and then in college, studying biology, geography and art. I then applied to Bangor University and after repeatedly calling admissions and begging for them to give me a chance - I studied in the School of Ocean Sciences for 3 years! My current job is as a Guest Experience Team Member at Blue Planet Aquarium. I work day to day with an amazing team of hard working animal lovers, in which we teach the public about our amazing sea life. I do aqua-theatre shows, where I interact with our scuba divers, who do things such as feeding our Southern Atlantic stingrays by hand! I also work as an educator, were I help teach all different school levels, starting with ocean discovery and learning basic marine life anatomy, to teaching older children and teens about shark conservation and population decimation. It's never a dull day! I also help the dive team on weekends as a Dive Tender, were I assist the dive supervisor above our shark tank with tasks and health and safety for our customers who come to dive with our sharks!
In the future I hope to focus on Eco Tourism. Eco Tourism is the future of tourism, as so many people are desperate to see all of our natural world (myself included). I want to join, teaching people upfront and personal, in these amazing environments, what we can do to preserve and protect our planet. There is so much that we can do already, from coral reef propagation to wildlife animal tagging! While at Blue Planet Aquarium, on rare occasions we are joined by Perforance Mermaids trained by Steve Millard. I became enthralled by the sport, decoration and grace of these mermaids and instantly wanted to join! I'm currently still in training however, in the future, this would lead to teaching young children about conservation groups and beach cleans, working abroad and in general just a lot of fun! It's still early days, but I can't wait for the next chapter of my life to begin!

Cathy says:
Oh my days... being a mermaid is a job? How awesome is that! Actually, I think every bit of Jessica's varied work sounds amazing - from protecting marine wildlife to helping people look after our planet, it's so important. What's YOUR dream career? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 3 May 2019


Skye Tanberry looks to the stars to predict your fortunes for May... take a look!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Some things that you have planned for this month may not go exactly how you want them to... but you shouldn’t let that deter you! If you open up to the idea of being flexible with your plans, then you may find that you have even more fun than was initially anticipated!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Work is important in everyone’s lives; but make sure to take some time for yourself. It’s essential that we all get time to relax and unwind, be it with a good book, or a nice walk in a park… as long as you make sure to prioritise yourself and your mental health for a moment!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Emotions may be running high this month, so remember that when people give you criticism, they are only trying to help you improve. And sometimes we aren’t able to show our full potential without someone there to guide us in the right direction...

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
This is the month to let your creativity shine! If you notice anyone around you struggling for ideas, find time to help them out and in the end, you will end up helping each other.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
If you find that someone is being rude or thoughtless, try not to be quick to judge them. They may be in a worse situation than you and could be finding it difficult to express their emotions. Rather than trying to avoid them, try to see if you can help them.

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
If you have had a rough time of it recently, try to stop hiding away and come back in to the light! This month is a month to go outside and enjoy the sunshine! You’ll find that in time, it will help to melt away your problems...

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
You have been a true friend to those around you and they really appreciate that! Your friends would want you to know how much you mean to them, so don’t forget it! And don’t forget to tell them how much they mean to you too!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
Don’t try to take on too many tasks at once this month, or you won’t be able to complete them to your best ability. Where possible, try to finish the tasks that you already have, before making promises to too many people and becoming overwhelmed.

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
Although you have a lot on your plate at the moment and you may be feeling very stressed, don’t look for the worst! Picture yourself in your desired situation and you may just find yourself there!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
This is the month to finally express how you are truly feeling to that special someone - whether it is an annoying friend, or your possible true love! There is no point waiting any longer, whether the outcome will make you happy or make you sad - at least you will know!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Now is the time to try something that you have always wanted to do! It may be some type of artwork, or perhaps taking up an instrument? It may take a long time to become good at it, but the outcome will be worth it!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
Your optimism really inspires those around you! Keep being the best that you can be and you will influence your friends and family to become more proactive and smile more!

Cathy says:
Does YOUR horoscope ring true this month? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 28 April 2019


Blogger Emma tells us about the camping trip that pushed her to the limits and taught her how to say 'no' in the first of a hard-hitting new series on mental health...


Emma says:
“I keep living, loving and learning the hard way.” As I waited for my suitcase at the baggage area, this is the song I remember hearing through the speakers. I remember thinking how in theory the whole premise of the song seemed ridiculous. Why would you make the same mistake over and over again? I’d been working abroad for a month and had mixed feelings about returning home. It wasn’t like I left my feelings of anxiety back in Ireland like a troubled house pet and said “See you in a month, remember to eat and stay hydrated, K, thanks, bye.” It was always there, but somehow being in a change of scenery made it more manageable. I could pretend that life was always going to be a Venice Beach where the waves didn’t crash half as much.

The baggage belt suddenly started moving pulling me out of my thought, quickly reminding me that whatever pause my 'real life' had been on was firmly over. As I collected my suitcase, the weight of the bag seemed different. It seemed heavier than it did when I had checked it in a few hours beforehand. It stood as a firm reminder that all my baggage was waiting for me now that I was home. Little did I know, in the weeks to come, the bag was about to break. It was about to break in a way I couldn’t sweep under the carpet or ignore. I would have to learn how to properly clean up the mess.

I had been back two days when I was told I’d just under a week to organise and run a camp. It was my own fault. I should have said no. It was a near impossible task, with a built in guarantee that I’d forget something. As someone who colour coordinates their wardrobe and makes countless lists for nearly everything, it was a match made in hell. I still couldn’t say no. A week quickly passed and suddenly I found myself at a camp site, about to run the most organised unorganised camp in history. A camp my name would be tied to and every little thing that went right or more importantly wrong would fall on my shoulders.

I was an experienced camper, but that didn’t matter. Due to other events that occurred in that same week, my mindset and confidence were little to none. The whole premise of guiding is 'giving girls confidence,' yet here I was with over ten years camping experience (with the knowledge that goes with it) and I couldn’t work out how to breathe let alone sort a troublesome tent. I felt like a failure. How was I supposed to be a role model? The skills I'd spent years acquiring suddenly seemed to be as Frozen as the movie, but not nearly as entertaining.

Guiding used to be the place where I felt my strongest. A place where I could escape from my own head. Although the signs were always there, at the age of ten you don’t know what anxiety is. You can’t say how you feel or why you feel so sick whenever a primary school spelling test got the better of you. A lot changes in ten years. It will always be the place where some of my best friends and childhood memories were once tied to, but I wasn’t a child in denial anymore. Even as an adult, those memories still had a hold on me. I felt like while I was there I couldn’t appear to be any less perfect or happy, then I was once upon a time. Over the years, I had slowly gotten better at managing my anxiety, but the way I suppressed my feelings that weekend undid what was honestly years of hard work. All because I didn’t - or couldn’t - say no.

From the outside, the camp went near seamlessly. The activities went fine, no one got food poisoning and the guides miraculously went to sleep with little persuasion and hardly any bribery. However, it was the behind the scenes (or tent if you’d like?) where the cracks started to show and the zip began to unfasten. The hectic pre camp preparation kept coming back to bite me. No one noticed I was breaking down in agony. Then again why would they?? Those who were close to me were miles away and uncontactable due to the unique signal availability. I felt this urge to overcompensate and keep everyone happy. Partly doing so in an effort to try and keep myself together. But it was impossible. It was like chasing a rainbow and I couldn’t find a sliced pan let alone a pot of gold.

It was on the last day the bag finally broke. It was a small incident, a few words that probably meant me no harm. But it was the last thing the bag could take. I felt every part of me breakdown. I had tried so hard to salvage the situation and nothing I did was “right”. But it made me realise I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. These were the words that were my foundation for starting again after the camp ended.

I didn’t sleep properly for months after. I still don’t. But I have faith in time as a healer. Every coping technique seemed useless, every positive affirmation silly. Every fault, every remark made,  manifested itself into the cruellest of intrusive thoughts. Something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I only realised how well I had been doing when I broke down. Getting help again, from the same person I did many years ago was the worst part. How I let them and myself down after months of thriving. I let myself be broken.

It felt like I was back at square one, but this time I knew that saying no was my superpower to saying sane. I wasn’t superwoman and after seeing the consequences of my cape ripping and landing so elegantly on my face, I didn’t want to be.  I am still an overachiever who colour coordinates her clothes. I still feel terrible when I have to say no and that may take years to change.

The key piece of information that keeps me going is simple - I now know that the feeling I get when I say no when I need to is a million times better than falling apart in a camp site bathroom, alone, using a whole bottle of concealer (a very expensive way to deal emotions that is not sustainable for a student). That camp was the blessing that broke me. It may sound confusing. But I’ve learned that sometimes you need to be completely broken so you can rebuild the right way. Like a reboot of an old TV show that had lost all its magic. Life may never be a Venice Beach where you can get fake but gorgeous handbags, but we have no choice but to go through life the same way we’d eat an elephant. One piece at a time, embracing the imperfectly perfect moments on the way.

Cathy says:
I love Emma's honesty and bravery in sharing her experiences with anxiety - I think it will help a lot of people. Have YOU ever struggled with anxiety? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 26 April 2019


Do YOU know what you'd like to do as a career? In the first of a new DREAMCATCHER series we talk to young people with a whole variety of cool jobs. Prepare to be inspired!

Nicole says: 
I fell in to my job completely by chance! I had started singing at an Open Mic quite near to where I live. It was a really fun thing to do on my Wednesday nights, but as I started making friends with the host, George, we started talking about art. It turned out that he actually painted murals for a living, in hospitals and schools. He ran his own charity called Art For Their Sake - and it had been going for almost fifty years! He asked me if I wanted to volunteer with the charity and I of course said yes!

The first thing that I ever painted for this charity was rocks. Lots and lots and lots of rocks! George taught me that painting on to a wall is very different from painting on to a canvas or on paper. I couldn't quite believe how he had made painting rocks so interesting! I completely fell in love with the job and now, five years later, I can paint everything, from characters, to backgrounds, to more rocks!

It's very hard work, because we do very long hours and the pay isn't  great. It takes time to create a mural! But when you love your job, money doesn't matter, because of how happy it makes you, day in, day out.

I had just finished High School when George asked me to work with him. I wasn't sure at first, because my art teacher had not been a fan of anything I did! She told me, 'You would be lucky to get a 'C' grade.' But then she went on maternity leave... and a wonderful substitute teacher taught us for the year. She told us to believe in ourselves... and just like that, I managed to get a 'B' in art. It still wasn't what I was hoping for, but it showed me that even if you don't get as high a score as you would like in tests and exams, if you are passionate enough, you can still find a way to achieve your dream!

Cathy says:
Wow... what an inspiring message, and what a fabulous, creative job! The satisfaction of creating a bright, beautiful mural for a school or hospital must be huge... and what talent! What is YOUR dream career? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 24 April 2019


Reader Ruadhan shares her tips on making sure you are ready for whatever the exam season has to throw at you!

Ruadhan says:
Exam time can be really stressful, especially the studying bit! There are ways to deal with that exam stress so that you can feel a lot more confident and relaxed when the time comes… here are my top tips!

- Always drink plenty of water. Believe it of not, it can really help you focus as it refreshes your brain!

- Try listening to classical music. Some people like to study in silence, but for others, music helps them to concentrate. If this is the case for you, try listening to classical rather than pop or rock as it is less distracting and can have a calming effect!

- Revise in sections. It's never a good idea to jump in and try to cram as much information as you can into your head. It will eventually just become a tangle. Sometimes it is helpful to use notecards rather than reading it straight from a book. Notecards are very handy!

-Give yourself plenty of time. If you have to study during the holidays, your first thought might be, 'I'll do it the week before we go back.' DON'T think this! What will happen is that you'll keep putting it off until you only have a couple of days left. You'll panic and end up not remembering much at all. It may sound simple, but study steadily all throughout the holidays and you will absorb so much more!

- Take a break! When you are under pressure, it can seem like any distraction will ruin your chances of getting a good grade. This isn't true. Studying without a break can harm your chances. Try to see studying like exercise - it is good for you, but do too much and you'll hurt yourself.

- If you are the kind of person who gets very wound up over exams, build in some relaxation. De-stress  when taking those breaks… dance, sing, do yoga… anything to take the weight off your shoulders and allow you to unwind a little. When those exams roll around, you'll be ready to tackle them in style!

Cathy says:
Great advice - my advice is to make a revision timetable, and copy out notes several times as you revise… this usually ensured the info stuck in my head! Do YOU have any revision tips to share? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 21 April 2019


Reader Lizzie writes of friendship, romance and chocolate in her fab short story with a clever, chocolatey twist at the end!

Lizzie says:
I hate chocolate.
It’s not just the taste, although that’s bad enough. It’s the texture as well. It’s a lose-lose situation – it’s either rock hard so that you practically break your teeth on it, and all you can do is chip off tiny shavings with your incisors – but it’s even worse if it’s soft. Just thinking of the way it dissolves when you chew it into a tacky, syrupy mush, brings bile to my throat.
So, OK, maybe I’m overdramatising. It’s not like I’m eating spiders, or maggots, or anything else that most normal people would consider disgusting. But for some reason, it’s almost worse, because chocolate seems to be everywhere these days and there’s no escaping it. Shops, stalls, birthday presents, Christmas presents …it’s enough to drive anyone crazy, right?
Which is why, when I opened the lid of my desk one damp Monday morning and found a box of rose-scented truffles lurking inside, I wasn’t so much flattered as disgusted.
I appreciated the thought, sure. Wouldn’t any girl be pleased to find she has a secret admirer? I just kind of wished whoever it was had found a slightly different way of expressing his feelings.
I had a problem. These were way too good just to chuck away, and I couldn’t see anyone else in my family wanting them. My dad’s the same as me regarding the whole chocolate phobia, and my sister Linnie is still on mushy green baby food, so the truffles seem to be doomed from the start.
I leaned over the aisle between the desks, whispering, “Hey! Hinnay! Over here!”
She closed the book she had been reading under the desk and glanced up without much interest. “Yeah?”
I leaned closer. “Do you want a box of chocolates? ‘Cause there’s one going free right here.”
Hinnay of all people understands my aversion to chocolate. She’s about the only person who doesn’t stare at me when I push away the end-of-term silver-wrapped Santa, and who doesn’t gape in amazement when I wrinkle my nose at the smell of cocoa. This is why she is my best friend. It’s refreshing being with someone who doesn’t treat you like a freak.
She looked at me now, raising her dark brows in a slant. “How come you’ve got a box of chocolates on you?” she questioned me.
I was unsure if I wanted to tell her about my secret admirer (assuming that’s who they were from) just yet. “Um, I just…do?”
The lame explanation seemed to satisfy her. “Okay, whatever,” she shrugged. “Where’s the ambrosia?”
I snorted at the “ambrosia” remark, reaching into my desk and drawing out the box. I was careful to keep it hidden. If the sender was someone in my class, I didn’t want him to be offended.
“Whoa,” Hinnay said, her brown eyes widening. “Who sent you these, Mel?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted.
She pushed them back across the desk at me. “I’m not taking these. Even if you’re not going to eat them, you can’t just give them away.”
“What am I supposed to do with them, then?” I protested.
Hinnay sighed. “Put them under your pillow and treasure them for eternity. Where’s your sense of romance?”
I frowned. “Under my pillow? They’d melt.”
“I’m not being literal. Oh, never mind.”
I groaned. “Hinnay, please say you’ll have them.”
She flushed. “Mel…if I’m honest…I don’t really like these praline ones. They’re too rich for me.”
So she hadn’t refused my offer out of concern for my love life, after all.
“Couldn’t you, I don’t know, try and force a couple down?”
“No,” she said flatly. “Last time my aunt sent me some, I threw up.”
That was a no, then.
“Wait!” Suddenly, she was diving into my desk. “There’s a note! Look!”
“Gimme that!” I snatched it, scanning the closely printed, curling writing.
Meet me behind the science garden at four.
I looked at Hinnay and she stared back, wide-eyed.
“Whoa,” we said in unison.
I glanced up and my mouth fell open.
James Taylor, the most attractive boy in the year was staring down at me. I was so shocked I thought I might suffocate. Admittedly, I knew him better than most of the other boys, but somehow I’d always thought we were more friends than…than…
“Um…hi?” I heard a voice squeak out. How ashamed I was that it was mine.
“Listen…Mel.” His voice was uncharacteristically nervous.  Believe it or not, I was pretty nervous too.
“I know you probably have no idea what’s going on…”
 “But I just wanted to say…”
 “That I like you…”
 “I mean, I really like you…”
 “And I sent you those chocolates…”
That was when I blurted out possibly the stupidest thing I have ever, ever, ever said in my whole life. Like, ever.
“I don’t – like chocolate.”
Well, that was quick for a first relationship.
He blinked at me, puzzled. “What?”
I had no choice but to mumble it again. “I don’t like chocolate.”
He sounded so disappointed I thought I might cry.
“I’m sorry, Mel. I just…I kind of sent them because I like chocolate, and I thought you would too…I’m sorry, I really am. You don’t have to eat them.”
“No, I’m sorry,” I said frantically. “I didn’t mean I don’t like them, I mean, I really like you, but…”
We both froze as I realised what I’d just said.
“You – like me too?” he asked curiously.
I nodded, unable to meet his eyes.
There was a long silence. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I glanced up, maybe to apologise, but the next thing I knew, his mouth was on mine.
After what could have been a minute, or perhaps several sunlit years, we broke apart. I stared at him.
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
He was apologising for kissing me?
“Don’t be sorry,” I whispered.
Smiling, he kissed me again. I closed my eyes.
His lips tasted of chocolate...

Cathy says:
Beautifully written, what a read! What did YOU think? Do YOU have a chocolate themed romance you'd like to share? COMMENT BELOW...

Friday, 19 April 2019


It's not just children that love CC books, you know! Here are some fab reviews by adults!

After being inspired by @cathycassidyxx  at Liverpool Reading Rocks, I bought SAMI'S SILVER LINING from the bookshop and once I started, I couldn't put it down! I had goosebumps reading Sami's story and I can't wait to share it with my class on Monday...

Well I did it, I read a ‘children’s book’ recommended by my daughter... it was SAMI'S SILVER LINING... and I loved it. Relaxing to read (an important  criteria for me after work), beautifully written, informative and educational about a current affairs issue... and it made me cry. I suppose I should listen to Katie’s recommendations more often. (Don’t tell her I said that...)

I loved SAMI'S SILVER LINING. It is beautiful and quirky and humane and I finished reading it on Saturday and gave it to a friend's daughter, who has been visiting with her family and is also beautiful and quirky and humane. She plays the flute like Sami and spoke of the refugee children who are now at her school in Berlin. Thank you, CC, for writing with such kindness and empathy. The world needs more of this!

I read SAMI'S SILVER LINING because my daughter wouldn't stop talking about it and I wanted to understand why it had made such an impression. This may be a children's book but boy did it grip me. It's a long time since I've read something so thought-provoking, eye-opening and powerful, and as a family we've had several big discussions triggered by the story. I've passed the book on to a friend (although my daughter wants it back as soon as she's read it...) and also bought a copy for my daughter's school. My daughter and I are both now huge CC fans.

Fifteen year old Sami is trying to come to terms with his new life in England living with his aunt and uncle. He has escaped from war-torn Syria, lived for a while in the cramped conditions of a refugee camp and then made a perilous journey in an overcrowded  boat across the icy waters of the Aegean Sea to Kos. The boat capsized and he was hauled out of the sea with no sign of his father, mother or little sister. After more hardship, he arrives in the UK with virtually nothing but his flute and the battered old, silver lined coat that used to belong to his dad. I strongly recommend this well told multi-layered story which is all about friendship and camaraderie. Without spoiling the plot, I need to reassure you that there is a very positive ending and eventually Sami is ready to take off the coat and to give it a new life. Cassidy is keenly aware of the political power of fiction to help readers understand and want to ask questions about real world concerns. In the afterword, she explains that Sami’s story is based on the reality faced by thousands of child refugees who are trying to find sanctuary in the UK. As such, this is an important campaigning novel with a clear message for readers. 

Cathy  Cassidy has always written books with characters we care about. THE CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series set a high benchmark for weaving a series of  individual, yet interconnected tales, but if the first two books in her  new series, the LOST & FOUND are anything to go by, this new series will  be even better. SAMI'S SILVER LINING focuses on Sami, a Syrian refugee. It  gives us the story of his present day adventures with the band, but this  is interspersed with extracts from his notebook, telling the moving and  powerful story of his journey from Syria to Britain. This is where the  book moves from being a superbly written and thoroughly enjoyable tale, to being a highly affecting and important book which needs to be read and read widely. Sami's tale is one of hope through the direst adversity but reminds us that for every Sami, there are thousands of other  displaced people who are not as fortunate. This wonderful book should be read, loved and taught in every school and is the work of an author at the peak of her powers. Just read it.

It means a lot that adults are connecting to SAMI'S SILVER LINING just as strongly as kids are... wow! Have YOU read it yet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!


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