Bucket List Moments – Reading All The Nicholas Sparks Novels – Part 1

The man himself!

                          The man himself!

Okay, for a while now I have wanted to read the Nicholas Sparks novels that have inspired some of my favourite romance films. So when I saw one of them in a charity shop, I though why not start now, and promptly paid for the book. Since then I have found a few more in charity shops and bought several used copies from Amazon for really cheap.

After reading the first two books (not in the order they were written as there isn’t a continuous arc across the books), I thought I should start keeping track of how I felt at the end of each book, kinda like my synopsis that I could share with you all.

So here goes….

The Longest Ride

The Longest Ride

 Much like the film, this book captured me after the first few chapters, even with the major differences in how it’s told. The intertwining storylines connect perfectly both on-screen and on the page & I love the way they are told; Ira & Ruth’s lives through flashbacks, while Luke & Sophia come together in the present.

Sparks has done a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life on the page and at times I felt like I was right there with them. It was almost like I was Ruth, a haze in the car wiling Ira to hold on for just that bit longer, bringing the memories of our lives together to life once more. Then I was Sophia, reading Ira’s letter to him in the hospital, trying to speak clearly for him despite the emotions clogging my throat.

AS with any truly great author, Sparks has created a story that really comes to life. This book is going to be one I treasure and reread over & again through the years to come.

At First Sight

At First Sight

I wasn’t really sure what to think when I started reading this book & upon reaching the final page, I was no closer . I felt the story started off in an odd place & as it developed things didn’t exactly become any better.

I felt the story took a long time to get going, then you were hit with a major twist & tragedy, before suddenly reading the epilogue and it was all over. I know it’s supposed to be a love story, but there seemed to be too much suspicion & minor conflict between the major characters for it to flow nicely. Not that I expected it to be all hearts, flowers & sappy words, but the almost abrupt ending left me feeling bereft, like a huge chunk of the book was missing that would make things fall into place.

Obviously this is purely my opinion and if you’ve read it & love it, I hope I don’t cloud your views at all. That is not what I want to do by far. I just want to share honestly how I reacted & felt; I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments below.

Safe Haven

Safe Haven

I had already fallen in love with this story after watching the film, so to be able to read the book has been fantastic. Nicholas Sparks has yet again provided a detailed love story that also shows the darker side of relationships.

After watching the special feature on the DVD I know he wrote the storyline for Kevin Tierney, the abusive husband, first and then filled in the rest with Katie & Alex. This seemed odd to me when I first heard that, but after finishing the book it makes sense. Kevin is plagued by demons that affect a lot of us, but they drive Kevin to extremes; in the way he thinks, how much he drinks & then his resulting actions. Behaviours that are unfortunately all to common in life.

In contrast, the relationship between Katie & Alex is a lot brighter and simpler. Even with the shadow of Katie’s past looming over them, they both manage to find the best in the situation, building a new life together with his children. And Jo; well, I was intrigued to see how that had been written after seeing the film, and think Sparks incorporated her perfectly. The letter at the end was beautiful and it definitely brought tears to my eyes.

The Choice

The Choice

After the first few pages of this book I knew I was going to love the storyline. It starts off like most other romances, boy meets girl, and progresses steadily as you would expect. Then Nicholas Sparks throws a curveball into the mix. Of course we have the prologue as a hint, but all I was expecting was a separation or divorce, thinking Travis had cheated or something. But oh, no, it’s completely different, though I won’t give any more away if you haven’t read it yet.

The front of my book says ‘Now A Major Movie Picture’ but it hasn’t come out in cinemas in the UK yet. I have however, seen the trailer. I think the casting looks great, but from what I can tell, they’ve deviated quite a bit from the book. Now I know it can’t be an exact match in 1 1/2 -> 2 hours of screen time; but still, I noticed major differences that would have been easy to stick to.

Anyway, I look forward to watching the film, but I’m so glad I got to read the book first. Another great story to add to my growing library.

The Best of Me

The Best of Me

Again, this is one where I have seen the film and fallen in love with the story first. But it has truly been amazing to read the book and see how Nicholas Sparks originally wrote it all.

The storyline had me hooked from the first time I watched it, and reading the words has only reinforced that. I love how Sparks has created this modern romance, almost like West Side Story, different worlds colliding in this young couple before things inevitably spin out of control separating them. Then for them to be reunited many years later after their lives have changed so much – only to be irrevocably altered again in such a shattering way.

And then the off-shoot of Tuck and Clara, another great (if briefly told) love story that I would love more detail on. I would definitely buy the book if Sparks ever turned it into a novel of its own.

The love Dawson & Amanda have in the book, still strong even after so many years apart, is something that I long for but know I will be lucky to find if it ever happens for me.

Dear John

Dear John

I’m currently working my way through this one, so will give the low-down when I am done!

That’s all for now folks! Part 2 will be coming soon – once I have read a few more of the books!

Let us know if you have read any of the books and share your thoughts on them in the comments below! We would love to hear your views!


Dream Awhile With Me – Poem by Cathryn Martin

I’ve been doing a bit of a sort out round my flat over the weekend and came across an old notebook I had filled with poems for a competition I entered while at school. After having a flick through I spotted one that I had shared on PoemHunter.com which someone turned into a stop-motion animation a few years back. SO I thought I would share both with you all!

Dream Awhile With Me by Cathryn Martin

I dream of rainbows, Bright in the sky,
I dream of lightning, together we cry,

I dream of flowers, I feel such delight,
I dream of spiders, and I scream with fright,

I dream of fish, swimming in the sea,
I dream of sharks, coming after me,

I dream of lambs, frolicking around,
I dream of wolves, Hunting, no sound,

I dream of children, several of them ours,
I dream of them waking, Being up for hours,

Stay with me forever and together we’ll cope,
Because when I dream of you, I dream of hope,

Dream awhile with me and together we’ll see,
Not all dreams are bad, so dream along with me.

Cathryn Martin

Bit of a simple poem I know (I was still at school – and we can’t all be Shakespeare), but check out the video I was sent…

I think this is super creative and I felt quite honoured when I was first contacted by them to let me know they had made it!

Have you written any poetry? Or have you made a stop-motion animation about your own/someone else’s work? We would love to see both and share them here on the blog!!! You can contact us via social media or via the ‘Contact Us’ tab above!

TV Tuesday – NCIS

I thought I would share one of my all time favourite TV shows today, one that has been going for 12 years now and has just started airing Season 13.

Which show is that?


The cast is fabulous…

NCIS current cast

Especially the guys who have been there from the start…

NCIS from the start

Each of these characters has grown and developed so much over the years, and it has been great to watch it happen.

A few changes from the initial team with Sasha Alexander as Caitlin Todd…

NCIS with Caitlin Todd

Then we had Cote De Pablo join as Ziva David…

NCIS with Ziva David

I especially love Abby Sciuto as the crazy, but lovable Lab Tech…

Abby Sciuto

I mean come on, I don’t know any other character that can rock this outfit and get away with wearing it to work, in a crime lab for the Navy…. you?

Abby Sciuto 2

You also have Leroy Jethro Gibbs…

Jethro Gibbs

Hasn’t changed much over the years, except maybe for the brief appearance of the mustache…

Jethro Gibbs mustache

Tony Dinozzo has been there from the start…

Tony Dinozzo

A serial flirt, full of mischief and film references he has matured through difficulty as the seasons progress. Still as spiffy as ever in his suits though…

Tony Dinozzo 2

Who can forget Tim McGee, from ‘Probie’…

Tim Mcgee

To fully fledged Agent…

Tim McGee 2

Tim has grown into himself over the years and is no longer just the ‘geeky’ author we see from the start!

And let’s not forget the original Man from U.N.C.L.E., David McCallum himself as Ducky…


The granddad every NCIS fan wants!

And then you have Ziva…

Ziva David

Great from the start, but then you get…

Ziva David 2

But we all know…

Ziva David 3

I know we have the lovely Emily Wickersham now as the adorably nerdy Ellie Bishop…

Ellie Bishop

But for a lot of us the NCIS family will always consist of…

NCIS family

A few of my fave NCIS memes to make you chuckle…

Jethro Gibbs 3 Ziva David 4

Some of McGee’s nicknames anyone?Mcgee

And to round off any good post about NCIS, you cannot forget….

Gibbs Rules

So what are some of your fave TV shows? Let us know in the comments, and tune in again soon for some more of mine!

Currently on my playlist…

Every Kingdom

I have been listening to this album on repeat every now and again since I was first introduced to it by an old friend! I find it soothing, and it helps me to concentrate when I am working.

Find all the songs here…

Might help you if you need to knuckle down and get some work done!?

New Readers and an Update

I just wanted to say a quick hello and thank you to all the new readers that have popped up over the last few weeks. My reader count is now almost at 400 and I can’t quite believe it!

The statistics part “backstage” of the blog has a little map of where all you lovely readers are from. Initially you were mainly from the UK and USA, but over the last few weeks I have seen an increase in readers from across Europe and the rest of the world. Especially from some smaller countries, like the 8 readers from Singapore that have appeared in the last week!

I feel so blessed that you have all visited my blog, whether for one quick read, those who come back regularly, or the ones who follow and get an email each time I post something.

I can’t wait to share some of my upcoming projects with you all. I have a number of posts that are still in the planning stages, and of course we have the (almost) weekly Workout Wednesday’s and Favorite Things Friday. I will be posting some pictures soon of some of the paintings and art I have done over the past year or so, and some that are still in progress that I will hopefully get round to finishing soon!

I will also be finishing a fully detailed post on Driftwood Boats that I mentioned a number of weeks ago now. I have finally managed to get some more driftwood that I am in the process of painting, etc and I am taking pics at each stage.

I also have a post that I am working on showing how I redecorate bottles into candle holders (bit like the ones shown in this Favorite Things Friday post).

There might even be an upcoming art collaboration that I am in the process of organising with a friend of mine.

So, again a quick thanks & welcome to my new readers from all around the world! And stay tuned for some new content!

Thank you and goodnight!

Summer Bucket List

On my Pinterest I have a ‘Bucket List’ board. This is an ultimate list of ALL the things I would love to be able to do at some point in my life! I know there are a quite a lot that I probably won’t get to do but a girl can certainly dream.

So instead of becoming listless, and getting down cus I couldn’t do it all, especially not in one go, I cut some of them down to a more manageable SUMMER BUCKET LIST!

BeachOutdoorsAdventureRandomMore RandomHave you got anything on your bucket list to cross off this summer? Let us know!

These are a few of my favorite things!

These are a few of my favorite thingsFollowing the lead of another blog I follow, I thought I would do my own little twist and give you a little insight into some of my current favorite things from Pinterest…..

Autumn Colours

I know the summer isn’t over yet, but this outfit is something I would love to have come Autumn! I have two shirts in a similar shade, now I just need to find bargain versions of the rest!

Teacher Appreciation Gift

My sister will graduate from University this time next year as a fully qualified teacher, so seeing gift ideas like this are something that I will need to keep in mind for the future!

Printable Templates

I don’t do Freezer Paper Stencilling – but I am always looking for new stencils/templates to use in my art. I create Personalised Name Paintings for friends and family, and I am always on the hunt for new ideas to incorporate.

Pavement Chalk Drawings

My little sister and niece finish school next week and my mum & sis are going to be looking for ways to keep them entertained over the summer. I think this is a fab idea – especially the ‘Roar and Stomp’, it is exactly what my niece loves to do – so this will provide hours of entertainment for my little girlies and their friends I am sure!

Equal Parts

I am a single gal atm – but I am on the lookout for a good man – and this is something that sums up what I am looking for! I am a bit weird myself, with my wide and sometimes random interests, and who doesn’t want a partner who looks good! Just remember – beauty (or sexiness in this case) is in the eye of the beholder!

Berry Clafoutis

This is a recipe for Berry Clafoutis that I found on Pinterest. It looks DELICIOUS and I can’t wait to give it a try! Follow this link to get the recipe and enjoy your own clafoutis!

2 Weeks in a Carry on

And finally, for those of you that are going away on holiday this summer – a ‘How To’ on packing 2 weeks worth of clothes into a carry on case! Always good to know!

What are your favorite things atm? Let us know in the comments – or post some pictures to our Facebook page!

My favorite book series!


I don’t know whether any of you have heard/seen the trailers, but one of my favorite books is being made into a TV series by the American channel Starz. This new programme – OUTLANDER – is based on the book by the same name (or Cross Stitch if you are from the UK). The book, and a further 7 in the series, were written by Diana Gabaldon, an American author based in Arizona.

Outlander Book Covers

The series is hard to classify in one particular genre, as they merge elements of historical fiction, romance, mystery, adventure and science fiction/fantasy. The first book Outlander (Cross Stitch) was first published in 1991, features 20th Century nurse Claire Randall, who travels through time to 18th Century Scotland and finds adventure & romance with the dashing Jamie Fraser. The 8 book series follows their story through the Jacobite Uprising culminating in the Battle of Culloden and the terrible aftermath. After a long separation where they have each changed, they find each other again and they are taken on an unforseen journey across the ocean, finding themselves in the Colonies. Forging a new life in the Carolina backcountry, they are once again thrust into an oncoming war. I am currently reading the 6th book in the series, and the catch line on the cover reads “Their love has survived the test of time – but can it survive fate?”

Entire Outlander Series including the new book

I have read the first seven books several times, and am nearing the end of another reread in anticipation of the 8th book which was recently released. They have been an absolute favorite since my mum introduced them to me over 10 years ago. I can’t wait until the tv series is aired (hopefully a UK channel will pick it up) so that I can see the characters brought to life. I have been avidly watching the teaser trailers that have been released over the past few months, and it looks like it is going to be good. From following the filming and crew on Facebook I can see that they are trying to stick as close as possible to the original text, and I think they have managed to cast perfectly for the main characters. It will be great to finally watch it come August 9th.

outlander castNew cover for Outlander book

Have you got a favorite book/series? Let me know in the comments. I always love finding a new book to sink my teeth into!


What is that one song that you can put on repeat and listen to over and over again?


For me it is Ed Sheeran’s ‘I See Fire’. I love listening to it! It is such a soothing song for me, I can literally listen to it for hours on end and it’s fast becoming the most listened to song on my iTunes playlist. I was listening to it this week and couldn’t help but dance to it round my little flat. It was refreshing, to feel free and able to move without having anyone watch and judge.

Listening to this song also helps me when I am being creative; whether I am writing, painting or doodling. There is something about the lyrics as well as the music that just allows me to let go of my insecurities when I am working, and lets me feel free to create instinctively.

Here is a link to it so you can listen and enjoy it! I hope it can help you free your creative juices!

Ed Sheeran - I See Fire

Let me know in the comments what your favorite song (or album) is at the moment!

A Quick Post About Me

So, for those of you out there that have absolutely no idea who I am, here is a little intro to me.


My name is Cat Martin, I live in Bristol, United Kingdom, and have been here for almost 5 years now. I love Bristol and am always finding new things to explore in and around the city. I initially moved here for a university course, but it turned out that it wasn’t the course for me, so I dropped out. But I had caught the Bristol bug and wanted to stick around, so I started looking for a job. After a long and hard struggle, I finally found one at a science and research magazine based in the city. I am now looking for a fresh challenge to take on, something that I really love and enjoy.


Ever since I was a young girl I have always had a love for making things and drawing/painting. This blog is going to be a platform for me to share this passion with people. I love a bit of DIY, as well as mixed media painting and every now & then I like to do a bit of baking as well. Over the past couple of years I have done a few special paintings for friends and family, some of them were to commemorate special events, like one for my grandparents to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary. The first one I did though was for a friend as a baptism gift, which highlighted some her favorite hobbies, including dance and photography (there will be a post later about these paintings).


Another one of my best-loved things to do is go exploring. Growing up with two younger sisters and a single mum we had some really great adventures (not all of them went to plan, but still ended up being fun). Now I have three younger sisters, a niece and my mum is married again, and we still have some great times together! Our family has never had much money, but I think that camping in the great outdoors, or even finding new places to visit near home creates the best memories. I want to continue this in my own life, and one day when I have children of my own, I want to give them some fantastic memories of exploring new places and of adventures in our local area, as well as a bit further afield. This blog will also document the adventures I have by myself, with my family and with my friends.


That is all I can think of for now, but you will find out more about me in future posts. For now, here is a photo of me…..