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hi, I am a 41 year old who loves jewellery and all things sparkly.My Instagram account is @sparkling_magpie

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Review: Gardman Hanging Wild Bird Feeding Station

Last summer I reviewed the Gardman Bird Feeding Station for children.  The birds still love it but I needed more feeding space as I now get more birds including a robin and a blue tit coming to eat there.  The largest feeder I could find was the Gardman hanging bird feeder tray (£14.99).  

I did have to put the station together by clipping/ forcing the metal hooks over the hoops which took some time but once it is put together it is very sturdy.  The whole station measures approx  19.5" from hook to the base of the tray.  The large tray measures 10"by10" and is 1" deep.  The tray itself is easy to clean but the water dish, which sits directly above the tray, is difficult to remove as the chain triangle is quite narrow so if the dish still has water in it it is hard to manovere out without spilling any.  
Percy, the pigeon was the first to investigate and use the tray feeder, but now they all use it and it is a great addition as I can put out quite a lot more food as it is now the breeding season. 

I purchased this item myself and the views expressed in this blog are my own. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Book Review: A Night of Secret Surrender by Sophie James

A Night of Secret Surrender is written by Sophie James and published by Mills and Boon (Historical).  This is a historical romance, set in 1812 war torn Paris. Both  Celeste Fournier and Major Summerley Shayborne are wanted by the opposing factions (Anne Jean Marie Rene Savary, Choef of police  v  Henri Jacques Clarke,  Minister of War).  aiming to fill th political vac  which developed after Napoleon left Paris to take Russia.  Celeste and Shay have met before war broke out in France.  One hot sultry night, many years ago Shay had taken Celeste's virginity and thrown back Shay's declaration of marriage in his face.  The next day she left for France with her father.  Now, famed for her disguises, she warns Shay who is now an informant for Wellington that his life is in danger and he must escape from Paris, which is where he was hiding.  Celeste is working as a rogue informant for the French.  By telling him his life is in danger she is endangering herself.  They attempt escape to Spain disguised as monks. 

I hated this book, it is the only one I have been unable to finish.  Hence why I stopped at monks as I gave up after the description of Shay shaving his palate so he could pass as a monk.  There are just too many storylines and characters  entertained with historical facts.  The flashbacks to Langley are interesting but drawn out.  I enjoyed that the novel is historically correct but it takes over and controls the direction of the novel rather than the characters themselves.  

I received this book via Netgalley and Mills and Boon in exchange for an honest review. I am a #MillsAndBoonInsider #netgalley

Available from: 

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Book Review: From Duke Till Dawn by Eva Leigh

The first book in the London Underground series, From Duke Till Dawn is written by Eva Leigh, published by Mills and Boon and is a Regency romance. The Duke of Greyland, Alexander  Lewis first met Cassandra Blake two years ago in the spa Cheltenham. They had one night together. Not realising he was just a "mark" to her he lost both his heart and £500 which he naively gave her, believing her to be a vulnerable widow when in reality she was a con artist and thief.   His engagement to Lady Emmeline has just ended as she ran off with a cavalry officer.  His first reencounter is a glimpse of her in a carriage. He then meets her in a gaming hell in a seedy part of Piccadilly.  Cassandra Blake has gown up in poverty and crime ridden existence.  Her mother deserted her when she was a young child. She had to live in Marshlea prison when her father was sent there for not paying his debts.  When he died she was left to scrabble a living on the streets of London which is where she met her mentor and partner in crime Martin Hughes/Hamish.

When her mentor of 15 years and partner in crime takes off with all their money she has no one apart from Greyland who she can turn to for help. She needs to repay the gaming hell investors, the wages of her employees and the £500 she fleeced off Greyland.  He agrees to help, but she has to stay with him until the debts are repaid in full.  The rest of the book recounts their exploits  as they search for Martin.

From Duke Till Dawn is not your traditional Regency romance.  It is the heroine, not the hero, Who plays the anti character.  Historical romances usually tell the story from the "rich" person's perspective.  In this novel, however, Leigh tells the story from Cassandra's perspective and point of view,  revealing and detailing the poverty and reasons who she she has fallen into a life of crime. An erotic romantic thriller, Leigh is more explicit when she describing sex scenes and the visit to the sex club - the Orchid Club than other authors have been.  I enjoyed this book, it's a busy book, detailing the influences and experiences that have shaped the characters, especially  Cassandra, the poverty and crime that is seen as the norm in parts of working class London, how being abandoned by your mother and father dying etc all combine to make this book an enjoyable, fast paced read.

I received this book via Netgalley and Mills and Boon in exchange for an honest review. I am a #MillsAndBoonInsider #netgalley #fromduketodawn

Available from:
Amazon UK

Mills & Boon

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Book Review: Marrying The Rebel Prince by Janet Glover

Marrying the Rebel Prince is written by Janet Glover and published on 26 April 2018 by HQ Digital,  an imprint of HarperCollins. Prince Nickolas Edwin Verbier D'arennes is the second Prince of the small, fictitious, Kingdom of Arennes.  Like many rich Royals he lives life in the fast lane and has a well deserved wild reputation and is widely perceived as the Rebel Prince.  In contrast Lauren Phelps is a blue haired unconventional struggling artist, who volunteers at a local church drop in centre and isn't afraid to argue her case to the Prince.  This is her big break, her first large/royal commission which will make or break her career. Every step they take is analysed in the press, on social media and on television.  Their budding relationship develops under the social media microscope as Lauren paints Prince Nickolas' portrait.  Falling in love was the easy part, is their relationship strong enough to survive all their secrets, incessant scrutiny and criticism from all sides?

Marrying the Rebel Prince is a 21 century romantic Cinderella's tale.  The insidious nature and pervading influence of social media, criticism that she is not a proper princess, plus the realisation that Nickolas has a reason to be a Rebel are all strands that influence the British Royal Family and are touched upon in this fictitious novel.  I enjoyed this story, I haven't read any of her previous books but found her work to be humourous, well throughout and the story cohesive.

I received this book via Netgalley and Mills HQ Digital in exchange for an honest review. I am a #MillsAndBoonInsider
AMazon UK


Friday, 18 May 2018

Book Review: Kidnapped For His Royal Duty by Jane Porter


Part of the Mills and Boon Modern imprint and the first in the Stolen Brides series. Kidnapped for His Royal Duty by Jane Porter is published on 31 May 2018.  Randall Grant's (Dal) fiancée, Sophie, was stolen as she walked down aisle by her Sicilian one night stand, Renzo Cristanti (their story is told in the second novel in this series).  As the 6th Earl of Langston he required and still requires a bride.  He kidnaps Poppy Marr, his shy secretary, and returns to Mehkar to visit the King, his grandfather, where he has not set foot for nearly 20 years. Due to royal protocol, it is assumed Dal had returned to take up his position as heir to the throne - he is known as Prince Talal and that Poppy is his fiancée.  Poppy has always been slightly in love with her sexy boss but will she agree to his royal proposal and be the queen of Mehkar and Dal's Heart?

This book is enjoyable but rather drawn out. It has the traditional heroine and slightly detached granite hero.  The book is interesting as it shows the change in Dal from sexy businessman to King in waiting and how Poppy feels left behind and isolated as a consequence of these changes.  It will be interesting to read the second book in the series - Baby of Shame by Caitlin Crews, due out next month to see how she Tells Sophie's story.

I received this book via Netgalley and Mills and Boon in exchange for an honest review. I am a #MillsAndBoonInsider #netgalley  #kidnappedforhisroyalduty

Amazon UK

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Book Review: Healed By The Midwife's Kiss, Fiona McArthur (M&B Medical).

Healed by the Midwife's Kiss is written by Fiona McArthur and published by Mills & Boon Medical. This novel is the second in the Midwives of Lighthouse Bay series and is a gentle slow paced medical romance.  

Set in Australia, so full of Australian colloquiums, Dr Finn Foley has relocated to Lighthouse Bay after his wife left him and their baby girl when she was just a day old.  He has left behind a successful paediatric practice and instead taken a position of General Practitioner with a side of paediatric consultations at the local hospital so he can spend time with Piper, his baby girl.   Catrina Roberts is a widow and a midwife who works and lives in Lighthouse Bay.  Both are wary of love and not keen on commitment due to being hurt in the past.  They start off as friends and move on from there.  Finn's wife returns briefly but this seems to be the incentive Finn needs to move forward with his life.    Will Finn and Catrina have love and happiness within their sights, if they are willing to grasp it!

This is a very slow burning romance. There isn't much angst, any sizzling sex scenes or dramatic reconciliation.  It is a traditional gentle medical romance.  The return of the wife appeared rushed and glossed over, a bit of a wasted character but overall it was an enjoyable read. 

I received this book via Netgalley and Mills and Boon in exchange for an honest review,  I am a #millsandbooninsider  #Netgalley #healedbythe midwiveskiss

(Published on 22 March 2018). 
Available from:Amazon UK 

Monday, 14 May 2018

Beak & Claws: Dior Addict Lip Glow Colour Reviver Lip Balm Matte (102, Matte Raspberry)

As the imagery and name of my blog is centred around a sparklingly magpie I decided decided to name my lipstick and nail polish series "Beak and Claws". Beak relates to the lipstick portion, claws to the polish.
My lips are always extremely dry as a consequence of my long term medication.  I am, therefore, always searching for that perfect combination of lip hydration plus perfect colour payoff which also lasts! For a lipbalm to be absolute perfection both colour and hydration must have longevity as I don't have the patience to keep reapplying throughout the day!

Dior Addict Lip Glow Colour Reviver Lip Balm Matte ( I chose 102, Matte Raspberry) is at the pricier end of the scale (£26 for 3.5g). There are two shades - Matte Pink (101) and Matte Raspberry (102).  To be honest I chose it because it is matte and I got a free gift with 2 purchases. I don't really go for glossy balms or lipsticks so I was thrilled to see a vibrant cool toned pink that is matte.  

The Reviver lip balm is not a new concept.  Dior launched the original in 2009 (there are now 10 shades in different shades and 3 finishes, satin, holographic and matte).  They are an inked balm, a hybrid between a balm and a sheer lipstick, combining hydration and other lip care properties with hint a colour.  The Colour Reviver technology means that the lipbalm will react differently to the pH level in every person's lips and the colour of the lipbalm will be customised accordingly.  The lip care ingredients includes mango butter and cranberry oil  which allow for 24 hours hydration and prevents the balm from bleeding. 

The lipbalm is multi functional. It acts as a lip balm, adds a touch of  just there colour to the lips and can be used as a priming base for lipsticks as well. It has a minty smell when first applied but the smell soon fades away.  The colour is not a true flat matte colour but has a slight sheen/semi matte finish to it, making your lips look more defined and enhanced than when wearing a traditional tinted lip balm. The colour is buildable from a blurred just bitten into a raspberry in to a cool toned vibrant pink (in my picture I have built up from 1 to 3 coats of lipbalm). It feels like a luxurious product as it goes on the lips.  My teeth look a lot whiter when I wear this shade as do my eyes.  My lips feel hydrated and I don't have to keep reapplying lipbalm throughout the day to keep them moisturised.  The lipstick case feels and looks luxurious. It is is instantly identifiable as a Dior product. The case has Dior embossed upon one side and Dior Glow Color Reviver Balm on the other. It closes with a satisfying click! 


I purchased this item myself from Boots.com and they are available at all Dior makeup stockists online and in store.