‘The Sisters of the Winter Wood’ Book Review

Top Five Saturday: Books On My Wishlist — The Book Lovers’ Sanctuary (Reblog)

PREVIOUS TOP FIVE SATURDAY LISTS: 8th August 2020: Underrated Books and Hidden Gems 22nd August 2020: Young Adult Books 29th August 2020: Detective Fiction 12th September 2020: Science Fiction 19th September 2020: Award Winners 26th September 2020: Guilty Pleasure Reads Oh my goodness, life has become so busy and time pressured since work began again… […]

Top Five Saturday: Books On My Wishlist — The Book Lovers’ Sanctuary

Goodreads Monday # 43 — The Pine-Scented Chronicles (Reblog)

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple. This week’s book: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune  Blurb from […]

Goodreads Monday # 43 — The Pine-Scented Chronicles

*The House in the Cerulean Sea.

Book Review of Liars and Thieves by Diana Wallace Peach — The Showers of Blessings (Reblog)

My Review of Liars and Thieves by Diana Wallace Peach. I must say Liars and Thieves kept my attention and I stayed up past midnight for two nights until I finished reading the book. There’s a map at the beginning of the book. I even printed out the map and follow the characters and events […]

Book Review of Liars and Thieves by Diana Wallace Peach — The Showers of Blessings

*I can’t help but believe that there will be an explosion of literature this year and in ensuing years. Good advice is always needed.

Book Review # 205: Apeirogon — The Pine-Scented Chronicles (Reblog)

The Road to Unity and Peace In today’s world, it cannot be denied that chaos reigns everywhere. Peace has become just a concept, a battle cry but rarely has it been manifested. War, insurgency, armed conflicts, violence have become synonymous and ubiquitous. Its aftermath leaves scars, a trail of blood of the unsuspecting and of […]

Book Review # 205: Apeirogon — The Pine-Scented Chronicles

Find this book here…

*Reblogged by Francis Barker 2020

Book Review: Such A Fun Age, Kiley Reid — The Book Lovers’ Sanctuary (Reblog)

“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.” I have been holding fire on reviewing this book for a few weeks because it is a – a difficult, problematic novel in my view. A novel which is almost good, almost dealt with […]

Book Review: Such A Fun Age, Kiley Reid — The Book Lovers’ Sanctuary

*Reblogged by Francis Barker 2020, who also love books…

10 Popular YA Novels I’ve Never Read — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions (Reblog)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chboksy I’m not entirely even sure what this book is about. I think it’s a coming-of-age story? And they made a movie that looks pretty good starring Emma Watson? I think I’ve never read it because I don’t really know what it is. Anything by Sarah Dessen […]

10 Popular YA Novels I’ve Never Read — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions

*Great piece, perhaps we should all have a go at writing that book…

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions (Reblog)

Information Goodreads: Girls Made of Snow and GlassSeries: NoneSource: PurchasedPublished: September 5, 2017 Official Summary Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale. Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in […]

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions

The Wonderful Mr Charles Dickens – Astrology Musings

After the mysterious William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens is probably ranked second in the all time greats of English writers — though to compare them is difficult as they lived more than two centuries apart and wrote in differing genres.

Neither is it possible to do a credible analysis of the Bard’s birth chart as we don’t know when exactly he was born, whereas we do know when Master Charles Dickens arrived in this troubled world.

Virgo Rising

It must have been pretty cold that late winter evening in 1812, in the famous port of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. At the time, the mutable earth sign of Virgo was rising on the eastern horizon. I think this pretty much correlates with a known part of the great Victorian writer’s character.

Virgo is always seen as analytical and critical, fussy and fastidious, with the keenest eye for detail and thereby a quick learner. The rising sign gives a good idea as to our approach to life, not necessarily revealing our inner nature.

As the young Charles grew up, this grasp of minutiae was serve him especially well, though this same quality might have led him along many different routes, not necessarily along a literary one. Virgo’s approach could be said to be scientific, though Charles basically lacked a full formal education of the time, for which we perhaps ought to be grateful; had he received one, he might well have chosen a different path and we might never have heard of him.

A Tale of Two Writers

Intriguingly, this may be one of two factors which the young Charles shared with Shakespeare of Stratford Upon Avon, who also appears to have not finished his own formal education. We do know that Dickens worked for a time in a law office in London, which some suspect the young Bard also did back in his day, when he too arrived in London during his so-called ‘missing years’. Dickens was a keen theatre goer too and may have grasped ideas of characterisation from that colourful arena. Virgo is a very keen observer indeed.

With Virgo rising, its ruler, Mercury, becomes the ruler of the chart. Interestingly, Hermes is placed in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn in the 5th house. Mercury in Capricorn is practical, realistic, systematic and ambitious.

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A Serious Mind — With a ‘Twist’

But this Mercury is also in a positive aspect with Uranus, ‘the magician’ in the 3rd house, also associated with the mind. In other words, his mind was practically inventive — with a twist of genius, one would suspect.

Mercury in Capricorn denotes a mind which must see definite results from the considerable effort put in, mentally. The 5th house is the creative arena, where children of the mind are hewn, served by the brilliance of Uranus from the third house.

Saturn is also in its own sign of Capricorn in the same house. He is powerfully placed here, underlining the seriousness in which he applied himself to his creativity. At times it must have been a joyless experience — but he was determined to succeed.

Great Expectations

Here then is part of the root of his ambition as a writer; what he may have lacked in education, he made up with in sheer graft and more than a little invention. His prodigious output is testimony to that, with 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, as well as countless letters.

But this is only the beginning of the extent of what was a very well developed mind. If Mercury gives an indication of the general everyday quality of mind, then Jupiter reveals the more expansive and aspirational side.


Dickens’ Jupiter is found in the mutable air sign of Gemini, high up in the tenth house of goals and career. Here is great flexibility, plus a curiosity and restlessness, a quality which he could apply to his career as a journalist, writer, as well as a lecturer and performer. There was something of the showman about him.

The 3rd and 9th houses are also indicative of the quality of mind. A Scorpio 3rd house in the whole sign house division method, reveals a mental intensity and investigative quality, bolstered here, as I have already stated, by the presence of the eccentric Uranus.

A Well Developed Mind

What is more, the ruler of Scorpio, Mars, is found in fiery Aries in the 8th house. Here is a person of some energy and verve, even a quick temper, but who applies it in the area of shared security, deeper concerns, such as investigation. Had he pursued his early career as a journalist, he might well have reached great heights there too. But he had his own path to follow.

His 9th house (higher mind again) is Taurus, ruled by Venus, which is found in sensitive and sentimental Pisces in the 7th house, closely conjunct the then undiscovered Pluto. Venus in Pisces has strong feelings, an almost spiritual ability to empathise with others, especially so in the 7th house of relationships. He definitely had the ability to put himself in other people’s shoes.

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The Pursuit of Social Justice

Pluto here only deepens this tendency; this may well correlate with his lifelong pursuit of justice for the poor and particularly poor children, whose plight he described so movingly in many of works. To say this man had a social conscience would be an understatement.

Equally, we also know that Dickens’ was a very fine mimic, able to take on the persona of others that he came across; this also correlates with his Venus/Pluto conjunction in Pisces in the 7th house. There is little wonder that when it came to portraying characters in print, he was able to make them seem so realistic, his Virgo ascendant giving him the ability to fine tune those intrinsic qualities of character.


I have said a lot already, but not yet mentioned the Sun or Moon, two of the key factors in a birth chart. His sun in Aquarius in the 6th house describes his basic inner nature. Here is a man, who despite his deeply felt compassion for others, could also detach himself if so wished and thereby do greater good. He identifies with work and service to others in this regard, too.

Aquarius is said to be unusual, but I think this has only grown over the past two centuries after an increasing number of astrologers have made Uranus the prime ruler of this sign. I think this is an error.

Emotionally Expressive and Sentimental

Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, but the side of Saturn which plans for the longer future, at a time of late winter in the north of the world when general preparations are made for the onset of spring. Aquarius is a carer too, but not in the same way as the deeply personal uniting principle of Venus in sensitive Pisces.

His Moon is in Sagittarius, very close to Neptune in the 4th house. So here is yet another facet of this multi-dimensional character. He can be emotionally expressive, sometimes overly so and gushing. He is also deeply sensitive and sentimental about issues regarding home, family, women and the past.

A Host of Characters

Here may lie another facet of his ability to write so convincingly about the lives of people in the mid 19th century, aided by several other sensitive areas of his chart I have alluded to above. He writes so well because he feels so strongly. Yet none of this may have been possible if he hadn’t got the ability to compartmentalise, using his considerable intellectual gifts to formally present us with those wonderful creations in print.

Charles Dickens, like all of us, was several characters rolled into one. But his particular chemistry was one which gave sublime literary expression to the troubles and the characters of his time — and for that we must all be eternally grateful.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

Fable by Adrienne Young (ARC Review) — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions (Reblog)

Information Goodreads: FableSeries: Fable #1Source: ARC from publisher giveawayPublished: September 1, 2020 Summary Left years ago by her father on an island of thieves, seventeen-year-old Fable has had to fend for herself. But she has a plan. She is going to work her way off the island, find her father, and reclaim what is hers. […]

Fable by Adrienne Young (ARC Review) — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions