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  • Writer's pictureLaura L. Zimmerman

Book Review: SPARK by J.M. Hackman

This week, I am honored to have the chance to review Spark: The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One by J.M. Hackman! Hold on to your seat! This action packed YA fantasy novel will take you places you never expected and will leave you yearning to read the next book in the series!


The Synopsis:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil. Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello, Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time? And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?

The Review: 

This YA fantasy novel is filled with fun (Can you tell by Brenna’s sarcastic wit in the synopsis?), adventure (Romping around an alternate reality will do that to you!), and suspense (Will she be able to save her mother and return the Veil, or will there be a price to pay?)

Brenna is your average 21st Century teen–her favorite shoes are Chucks, she’s always on the search for waffles, and she tosses around adolescent-attitude like it’s confetti–until she’s drawn into a hidden world she never knew existed! Once in Linneah, we are introduced to a cast of characters that will keep you on your toes! From faithful griffins to questionable royal figures, Brenna must learn to navigate a new culture and find her purpose in this unfamiliar alternity. Baldwin (the hottie!) is always a source of attraction (and tension) and she can’t decide if his presence on the quest for the Veil hinders or helps. Hackman’s twists and turns within the story–and a villain with a secret you won’t see coming!–will keep you glued to the book. And wait until you meet Anna! She’s sure to become a favorite character for all!

Hackman is particularly gifted with setting and description. I found myself wanting to go back and re-read passages just to allow the scenery to really sink in. This made it easy to get lost in the world of Linneah and truly become a part of the alternity right along with Brenna! The comic relief that comes with the crash of her two realities is in perfect balance with the action and adventure she faces while on her seemingly impossible quest to save Linneah.

The parallels between the Christian faith and that of Elyon in Linneah shine through and are a basic reminder of the important things in our own relationship with God–we are each unique and have a part to play in our world; and no matter what bad decisions we make, God is always forgiving and longs to be united with us as His children. Strong attributes such as forgiveness and grace are evident throughout.

Spark is Book One in The Firebrand Chronicles and is a clean, YA fantasy. This novel would make a great addition for any Christian library to go alongside classics like “The Hobbit” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

Praise for Spark:

“J.M. Hackman skillfully interweaves humor, heart, action, and a bit of romance into this tale of a seemingly ordinary teenager coming to terms with her extraordinary destiny. Her vivid descriptions, imaginative world-building, and authentic voice will entertain and captivate any reader who enjoys being swept away into a fantasy adventure with a lovable cast of characters. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!” —Laurie Lucking, author of Common

“J.M. Hackman’s Spark is a grand romp through a portal to a land of unexpected creatures and adventures, kind of like a blend of Narnia and Middle Earth. And there are griffins! I totally want to bond with a griffin. Just sayin’.” —Pam Halter, award-winning author of “Tick Tock” in Realmscapes

“J.M. Hackman’s Spark is a fun ride for your imagination. She weaves a sweet tale of action, adventure, and romance, sprinkled with humor that any lover of fantasy should be excited to read. Hackman crafted such a beautifully creative world that by the end of the book, you’ll want to visit the kingdom of Linneah for yourself and share in Brenna’s adventures. Great start to a wonderful new series.” —Julie Hall, award-winning author of the Life After series

You can purchase Spark at L2L2 PublishingAmazon, Barnes & Noble, iBook, Kobo, and other online retailers.

About the Author: J.M. Hackman has held many positions: assistant librarian, office assistant, office manager, substitute teacher, writer, wife, and mother. She still holds the last three. And loves it. She received a degree in Elementary Education from Pennsylvania State University and now spends her days writing stories, consuming massive quantities of chocolate, and looking for portals to other worlds. You can find her at


Connect with J.M. Hackman: Website Facebook Twitter Goodreads Amazon

Check out the rest of the blog tour for Spark: The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One by J.M. Hackman!

  1. Monday, May 15, Amy Brock McNew Visual Feature: The Characters of the Firebrand Chronicles

  2. Tuesday, May 16, J.M. Hackman Release-Day Feature

  3. Wednesday, May 17, Emilie Hendryx Double Feature: Interview

  4. Wednesday, May 17, Kasey Giard Double Feature: Review of Spark

  5. Thursday, May 18, Michele Israel Harper Five Reasons Why I Love Linneah, Facebook Launch Party Day!

  6. Friday, May 19, Kat Heckenbach Behind-the-Scenes Feature “A Different Kind of Magic”

  7. Saturday, May 20, Jennifer Hallmark Double Feature: Interview

  8. Sunday, May 21, Deanna Fugett Double Feature: Visual Post: The Symbols, Maps, and Jewelry of Linneah

  9. Monday, May 22, Laura L. Zimmerman Review of Spark

  10. Tuesday, May 23, Laurie Lucking Behind-the-Scenes Feature

  11. Wednesday, May 24, Pam Halter Double Feature: Guest Post

  12. Wednesday, May 24, Ralene Burke Double Feature: Guest Post

  13. Thursday, May 25, Laura A. Grace Interview

  14. Friday, May 26, Jebraun Clifford Behind-the-Scenes Feature

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