Pink Fire Pointer February 2013

Mini Review: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Goodreads Description:
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Wonder By R. J. Palacio

Performed by: Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Diana Steele

Type: Audio (Purchased)

I wasn't sure what to expect from Wonder, but I know that anyone who has read middle grade books raves about it. I think that Auggie's story is one that will speak to everyone, from kids to teens to adults. Depending on what stage of your life you're in, you will take different things from this book. I think, as a kid, it might teach you to be considerate to people and not shy away from those who are different. As an adult I kept sympathizing with Auggie's parents. I can't imagine how much strength it takes to raise a child who will be treated differently. I highly recommend Wonder to everyone!

Audio: When I saw that Nick Podehl and Kate Rudd were narrating I was excited, because I think they are great narrators. Nick is the narrator on Personal Effects and Kate Rudd is the narrator for The Fault in Our Stars. This is the first time I have listened to Diana Steele. Having multiple narrators was great, because you feel who's telling the story. I only wish that each narrator had said who was who. I wasn't crazy about the narrator's choice for Auggie's voice and I'm not sure if it was done intentionally to make him sound young or not normal. Either way I didn't love it, but it didn't take away from the story.

To listen to a sample visit Brilliance Audio.

Video: Jerusalem: 4,000 years in 5 minutes

If you can get passed the pro-Israeli politics at the very beginning and end, this really is a neat 5 minute presentation of 4,000 years of Jerusalem's history. Enjoy!

Reflections on Ruth, Part IV

The seventh piece in Chrissie Crosby’s series represents an interpretation of Ruth 3:16, where Ruth returns to her mother-in-law after encountering Boaz on the threshing floor. The starscape is Hubble’s view of the Crab Nebula. Chrissie suggests that “we lean forward with Naomi into the future to await the greater fulfillment.” I thus see Naomi (on the left) reaching out to receive both the person of Ruth and God’s future of blessing that has attached itself to the Ruth-event (symbolized by the Crab Nebula).


The eighth artwork (below) illustrates Ruth 4:13, where the Lord grants Ruth the miracle of a birth. Chrissie explains, “God’s mighty power surrounds just the two of them [Ruth and Obed], illustrating God’s action as mother love.”


The ninth (and final) artwork is an interpretation of Ruth 4:15, where the women of Bethlehem bless Naomi and describe Ruth as better to her than seven sons. The body-like figures of the Eagle Nebula M16 surrounding the two women, Naomi and Ruth, represent the women of Bethlehem and/or the seven sons that Ruth represents to her mother-in-law. Thus, I understand that God’s blessing flows into Naomi’s life here, reversing her earlier extreme bitterness in ch. 1, flowing through the village women and also through Ruth, who encompasses the ideal (“7”).


Reflections on Ruth, Part III

The fourth piece in Chrissie Crosby’s series is based on Ruth 2:1, where the reader first learns of Naomi’s kinsman Boaz, a man of חיל, of capacity, authority. Chrissie writes, “I picture Boaz coming into his fields, with the aura of God surrounding him.” (Hubble’s view of the Helix Nebula is used to convey this well.) “I used an image that also reminds of an eye.”
For me, this artwork illustrates God looking for potentials within the village society of the time that could be tapped and co-opted in forwarding the divine plan. Note the clan-authority (חיל) of Micah (3:8) and the 70 elders (Num 11:16 E), which God also tapped in this way! The aura here could thus be the “spirit of Moses” of Num 11:17! 
The fifth artwork in the series is based on Ruth 3:8, where Boaz is startled to awake at night next to a woman! I like how the arm over the eyes suggests that Boaz at first does not know what/who is there, and what might happen to him. Only then he senses “a woman.” The Hebrew term  הנה invites us into Boaz’s perspective, in which the night visitor is still a mystery. The starscape is Star Forming Region LH95. By initiating intimacy and marriage, Ruth sets in play God’s creative/procreative miracle—new birth, new life, out of infertility, new birth for Ruth and for all Israel.
The sixth image in the series is based on Ruth 3:9, where Boaz spreads his כנף over Ruth. Earlier, at Ruth 2:12, Boaz had used the same Hebrew term to refer to the protective “wing” of God, which he prayed would shelter Ruth. Chrissie, then, writes that Boaz here in 3:9 may thus be fulfilling his own prayer that he offered earlier. Boaz makes his own prayer a reality, and in this act God and humankind are surely working together (the starscape is Spiral Galaxy M74.)
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Talking with Ally Carter

During Ally Carter's visit to Houston I had a chance to sit down with her and ask a few questions. I was thrilled to get this chance, because like I've explained before, I have been in Ally world for a while. I've read Uncommon Criminal, Double Crossed, and Perfect Scoundrels and I can't wait for more!

I love the entire family from Uncle Eddie to Gabrielle to Hamish, Agnus and Simon. Aside from the main characters are there any fan favorites that surprised you?

With every series it varies. In the UK fans love Bex, the British Gallagher Girl, which makes sense, because they could relate to her the most. With Heist Society fans love Hamish and Angus. People are fascinated with what are they doing when we don't see them in the book. So if I wanted to do another short story I could do Hamish and Angus go get a donut and people would read that, because who knows what's going to happen? For the most part people's favorites is Hale.

I noticed that some of the characters in Heist wanted to leave their current life for something new and different. In Heist, Kat wanted to stop leading a life of crime and Hale decided to leave his life of wealth after he met Kat. Is this something that draws them to each other and can you explain a little about the allure of wanting to leave their current life for something new and different.

I think it's just part of being a teenager. I don't know many teens who think "oh, exactly where I am is where I want to be". The grass is always greener. At that age, you just want to know what's out there in the world and maybe you come back and realize "I love my world", but I think most teenagers are at the very least, fascinated by what their options might be. I think that, in some way, that is a recurring theme, if not in adolescent fiction, then just in adolescences.

Your action scenes feel like movies. I can picture Gabrielle walking next to Kat and Hale across the street. So it feels very visual. What do you go through to have it make sense and not make it jumbled, because there is a lot going on.

There is a lot going on. That's something I really struggle with and I always worry about action scenes, because it's always a lot clearer to me than it is on the page. Action scenes take many, many drafts to get there and I probably spend more hours per page on an action scene than I spend on anything else for that reason. I see them like a movie and I want it to feel like a movie, because you forget you are reading and just experience the story.

I tell people it's like writing the movie in my head. That's one of the key reasons why I did third person for the Heist books. I don't think it would be possible to write a Heist book in first person, because there have to be things that Kat knows that the reader doesn't know. If the book was in first person there's no twist. We have to be able to leave Kat's perspective long enough for her to fool the reader as well as who ever they are conning or stealing from. The third person is very key in that.

Family plays a big role in your books, from the family you were born into or the one you chose. How did this come about and is this similar in your life?

Family is very very important in my life. I'm very close to my family. I have my mom and dad obviously and an older sister and both of my parents come from big families. Dad was the second oldest of eight. So lots of cousins and Thanksgiving and Christmas are very big events. One of my cousin's, her husband builds barns for a living and he actually built a barn on their farm so that we would have a space big enough for all of us when we all get together. Family is really, really huge.

It wasn't a conscious decision (to give characters a tie to family) its probably a subconscious decision. Family is always kind of a recurring theme in the heist genre in that your crew is your family. If you look at Leverage and Oceans 11 the crew is your family. And what research I did about the heist world is that it's very much a family. You have that sort of grandfather/son/grandson relationship. It's not by blood, but by who you work for. In Heist it's how many degrees you are removed from Uncle Eddie.

Hale! Hale takes center stage in Perfect Scoundrels. Aside from his nickname what can fans expect from Hale?

I think probably we'll see with the next book, just them going deeper in their relationship. Kat was very adamant about going off in her own direction, but she slowly seems to be creeping back to the big family. One of the fun things about the Heist books it seems like with every new book somebody new comes into the picture and I think "oh I really like that person and I want to write that person again". I don't think it's the kind of series where everybody is in every book, but I'll be very surprised if we don't see Silas again. I think that we're going to start seeing Hale and Kat pulled more into the real world and crossing-over with the adults. As the people in Kat's family really start to treat her and see her as an equal. What that means for Hale, I don't know yet.

One of my favorite moments in Perfect Scoundrels is when Kat walks into Uncle Eddie's kitchen and all the old timers are sitting there and she has this moment where she realizes that these guys aren't as young as they use to be and they are getting ready to pass the torch and Kat realizes "oh crud, they're going to pass it to me!".

Do you think you will continue to write Heist?

I don't know. I would really like to and the publishers seem to want me to, so we just have to formalize everything. My next book is Gallagher Girl 6 coming out in September and then after that we will see.

I had to ask Ally "Is Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of Raised by Wolves, Nobody and Every Other Day, really an alien?"

Yes. She could be a robot. Cyborg is probably the best best. Jen herself says there is a non-zero chance that she's an alien. Jen says "if somebody were to come up to me and tell me that I'm an alien I'd be surprised, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised." It's just weird things. Like, if you look at her laptop the letters are not only worn off the keys, but they are indentations so she's got some kind of acid in her skin that literally burns through metal. I'll tell her "that's not normal".

I want to thank Disney Hyperion and Ally Carter for taking time out of her touring schedule to sit down and talk about her books. To learn more about Ally visit her online at

carisma_20's Ally Carter - Perfect Scoundrels album on Photobucket
Pictures from Ally Carter's event at Blue Willow Bookshop.

Reflections on Ruth, Part II

Chrissie’s second artwork is an interpretation of Ruth 1:6, which describes Naomi’s decision to return to Judah upon hearing that God had reached out to her people to give them what the need. The verse reads in Hebrew:

ותקם היא וכלתיה ותשׁב משׂדי מואב כי שׁמעה בשׂדה מואב כי־פקד יהוה את־עמו לתת להם לחם׃

Chrissie writes, “I wanted to show how God’s presence moves from a heaviness to a lighter touch, how God breaks through the story in many different modes, how the various words bring forth different understandings of how God reaches each of us.” The Hubble image is Merging Clusters in 30 Doradus. Click the image below to enlarge it.

In the art I perceive a light, “wispy” quality to God’s “visit” (פקד)---you can see the night sky through the streaks---yet, there also seems to be something of a strike/impact as God’s presence funnels down between the mountains of Judah.


The third piece in the series (immediately below) is an interpretation of Ruth 1:16-17, Ruth’s stirring proclamation of loyalty to her mother-in-law. The figures of Ruth and Naomi appear against a backdrop of Grand Design Spiral Galaxy M81. For me, the art captures how minute acts of selfless-loyalty may have cosmic magnitude in God’s grand design for human history.

Chrissie writes, “I see God’s hand holding Ruth while she outlines for the elder woman what she envisions for their future.” Then, I wonder if the image might represent God holding Ruth in addition to its more literal depiction of Ruth holding Naomi. Or, perhaps better, is this an image of God becoming tangibly present for each figure in the hands of the other woman to whom she is now forever bound?


Young Adult Paranormal Giveaway Hop

Oh how I miss the days of vampires, werewolves, zombies and the craze that brought most adults to YA. To celebrate, Gina Linko and I are taking part in the Young Adult Paranormal Giveaway Hop! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter form below. Remember to check the terms & conditions for all the rules of the giveaway.

About Indigo

A gift?

A curse?

A moment that changes everything. . . .

Caught in an unexpected spring squall, Corrine's first instinct is to protect her little sister Sophie after a nasty fall. But when Corrine reaches out to comfort her sister, the exact opposite occurs. Her touch--charged with an otherworldly force and bursting with blinding indigo color--surges violently from Corrine to her sister. In an instant, Sophie is dead. From that moment on, Corrine convinces herself that everyone would be better off if she simply withdrew from life.

When her family abruptly moves to New Orleans, Corrine's withdrawal is made all the easier. No friends. No connections. No chance of hurting anyone. But strange things continue to happen around her in this haunting, mystical city. And she realizes that her power cannot be ignored, especially when Rennick, a talented local artist with a bad-boy past, suggests another possibility: Corrine might have the touch. An ability to heal those around her. But knowing what happened to her sister, can Corrine trust her gift?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and YA Between the Lines for hosting this giveaway hop!

Crosby’s “Reflections on Ruth,” Part I

CM Crosby, a most gifted student of mine, has produced a wonderful project interpreting Ruth in Hebrew exegesis and artwork. She has entitled her project, “Reflections on Ruth: Art and Study.” She has given me permission to post her art in this blog, which I will do over the next two to three days.

Each of her nine images contains figures from the tale of Ruth with a backdrop consisting of renderings of photos captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The images of wonder from space represent the presence of God in the book of Ruth, thus inviting the reader and viewer to contemplate God’s subtle, mostly indirect (non-overt) presence in the events of the narrative. As you study the images, please consider adding a comment to the blog posts about how Chrissie’s study and art enrich your thinking about God.


Chrissie’s first artwork (below) is based on Ruth 1:13b:

אל בנתי כי־מר־לי מאד מכם כי־יצאה בי יד־יהוה

In Ruth 1:13b, Naomi expresses her dark emotions of bitterness at her sorry fate. One possible translation of her words to her two daughters-in-law is “My bitterness is too much for you to bear” (cf. NET, NABre). The star-scape is based on the Mystic Mountain in Carina Nebula. In the art, I can imagine Naomi free-falling below the Mystic Mountain; or, does the Mountain have five “fingers,” representing the “hand of God” that she claims has gone against her?


Click the image to enlarge it. Your reflections are welcome in the comments below.

Book Event: Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is on tour promoting Scarlet, the next novel in the Lunar Chronicles series. Fans might be surprised that Scarlet doesn't pick up with Cinder's story, but will follow both Cinder and new character Scarlet. Marissa talks about her road to publication and when readers weren't ready to ask questions she told everyone Grimm's version of Little Red Riding Hood. The teens in the audience were embarrassed and most of the crowd laughed. There were a lot of readers, authors and book bloggers at the event. If you have a chance to meet Marissa go! She is such a fun person!

carisma_20's Marissa Meyer album on Photobucket

Audio Review: Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Type: Audio Book Purchase

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

As soon as I finished Monstrous Beauty my first thought was holy hell this is one dark and twisted book! I will say that, except for Gone Girl, I have not read anything that has shocked me so much. Don't get me wrong I don't hate this book and I love that Elizabeth Fama can pull such a reaction from me, but I don't like many of the characters.

The story is told in two time periods. Present day and 170 years in the past. In the present, Hester meets a mysterious guy who she feels drawn to. Just as she meets this guy strange things start happening around town, some that can only be explained as haunting. Hester starts to uncover mysteries as to who she is and how her family line might be tied into these strange occurrences.

In the past Ezra falls in love with a creature named Syrenka. A lot of the darkness I blame on Syrenka, because if she had not fallen in love with Ezra none of the crazy things in this story would have happened. Syrenka's selfish actions caused a lot of pain. I didn't relate to her at any point and when she was in the story I wanted to skip it.

I love the cover, but I felt like it was a bit misleading. The cover says pretty and even a bit girly, but that's not what the book is about. I wish they would have used something darker or that represented both Hester and Syrenka.

There are a lot of mature subjects in Monstrous Beauty including rape and multiple murders. I think Monstrous Beauty is a good read, because Elizabeth Fama is an amazing story teller. If you like darker novels with a mysterious twist then this is the book for you!

Audio: Katherine Kellgren is one of my favorite narrators. Katherine is the narrator for both Ashes and Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick. Katherine has won a number of awards. She did a great job with the present story as well as the past. I think having a talented narrator really adds to the experience of listening to a book.

Free On-Line: Two New Bible Briefs



As editor of the Bible Brief series, I am delighted to announce the on-line publication of two new booklets. The Rev. Rhetta Wiley, Ph.D., who teaches at Notre Dame of Maryland University, has contributed “Judges” to our series (click here). Russell L. Meek, who teaches at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has contributed “2 Samuel” (click here). Both booklets will reintroduce the Scriptures to readers in powerful and inviting new ways. Our thanks to the authors! Don’t miss out on these great downloads!

Lent in Cyberspace


I’ve researched and collected the following set of videos and web resources in preparation for an adult forum on “Lent in Cyberspace” to be presented at St. Paul’s Church, Alexandria, VA, on Sunday February 17, 2013. Enjoy!

This initial video is a Trinity Cathedral production. The one below is a lovely version of Psalm 51 in Hebrew, perfect for the start of Lent:


Below, Father Jack (from the Busted Halo site) has an amusing overview of the Church’s practices of Lent:

The Busted Halo site has an on-line Lent calendar. Click the image below to check it out:


The above video introducing Lent 2013 is from the Xt3 site, which also has an on-line Lent calendar. Click the image below to check it out:


The above web-version if of-course free, and for $1.99 an iPhone version can be yours:


Beyond Lenten calendars, there are several worthwhile collections of meditations and prayers available for e-readers such as iBooks or Kindle. An example is Carol Mead’s Disciples on the Way: Meditations for 40 Days of Lent (Forward Movement and Morehouse):


Finally, two more videos (both from Igniter Media) making a move more toward Easter:


Update: Sharing the Clipboard between iOS and Windows



A while back I wrote a post on various apps and hacks that allow you to share text and images easily between an iPhone and your laptop or desktop PC (click here). Since that time, several of the apps and web-apps have ceased development and have not updated for Apple’s newer equipment. I’ve done some testing, and have two new apps to recomment. The app “PushPaste” is an excellent replacement for myPhoneDesktop, nicely sending text and images from Windows up to an iPhone or iPad. To send data in the reverse direction, I now recommend “AirClipboard,” at least for text transmissions. In addition, I do still like “Drop—Copy & Paste,” but it needs iPhone 5 optimization. Note that “AirClipboard” operates over the internet in a highly secure (encrypted) fashion. “Drop” uses a shared wireless network to transmit data.