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! Continue reading

Cover Reveal: SPARK by J.M. Hackman

Hey guys! I’m super excited to be part of author J.M. Hackman’s cover reveal for her new book, Spark! I’ve read a portion of this and can already say I can’t wait to read the whole thing! This is one YA fantasy novel you won’t want to miss!

And check out this amazing cover! Isn’t it gorgeous? May can’t come soon enough! Be sure to mark your calendar to grab this fantastic new YA series.

Spark: The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One

by J.M. Hackman

Release Date: May 16, 2017
L2L2 Publishing, LLC


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?

Continue reading

Guest Post: 8 Ways to Find Brilliant Story Ideas by Kellie M. Parker

Hello, readers of Caffeinated Fiction! I’m delighted to join you here today. One of the things people often ask me when they find out I’m a writer is, “How do you come up with your story ideas?”

Great question! I’ve put together a list of 8 different techniques I’ve used to find inspiration for my stories. Hopefully they’ll help you too!


Photo credit PEXELS

  1. Asking “What if?” questions

The world is full of interesting possibilities when you start asking questions, and you can use this tactic to look for ideas wherever and whenever you have time to think.

What if the magnetic poles suddenly reversed? What if everyone born in 1999 had superpowers? What if a future version of you shows up in a time machine in your living room?

There are so many things in life we take for granted, like gravity and running water and the weather. Turn some of those things upside-down and see what happens. Once you start asking questions, you never know where your imagination will take you! Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: Houses

I sit criss-cross applesauce and look up at my house.

Mommy is working and I have to wait for her to come back.

I pick at the lint on my pants. Waiting is hard. I don’t like to wait. Especially when I’m hungry.

Maybe she won’t know if I don’t wait.

With a glance around, I stand and walk to my house. I bend and take a bite out of the side. My teeth sink into soft graham and sweet icing.

I’m glad I didn’t wait. Then I pull a gumdrop from my gingerbread house and begin to eat.

@Laura L. Zimmerman 2016


Photo credit Unsplash Andrew Branch

Flash Fiction Friday: The Numbers

“458, 3701, 3, 2, 1.”

Stella joined Rocky in his walk as he counted his numbers.

“Morning, Rocky.” She adjusted her backpack on her shoulders and kicked a stone on the crumbled sidewalk.

“5, 5, 5.” He looked at an imaginary point straight ahead and gripped the straps to his pack a little tighter. His gaze never slid to his feet and he never looked anyone in the eye.

Stella had always found it curious that he didn’t trip or fall.

“Ready for that test in Pre-Algebra?” she said.

The two crossed 36th and Main. Stella had to shield her eyes from the early morning sun that fell through the cracks of the tall buildings.

“38, 921, 2023.”

Rocky’s jaw was tight and his gut swayed as they walked around a street vendor who sold fresh coffee and day-old donuts. No one in eighth grade ever spoke to Rocky, except for Stella, of course. He’d always been a bit odd, but he’d been her neighbor ever since she could remember. There had to be something behind those numbers and the way he ignored the world around him. She just had to stick around long enough to figure out what.

“Cheer assembly is tomorrow. Think you’ll wear something funky for Crazy Hat Day?” She smiled and waved at the nice lady who ran the fish market.

“971, 636, 259.”

Stella threw an arm across Rocky’s chest to stop him from stepping in front of the car that just ran a stop light. “Hey! Watch it!” They stepped off the curb and continued their walk. “You okay?”

“1, 1, 1.”

She sighed and they walked in silence. Cars squealed past, parked along the street, waited bumper to bumper for the stoplights to change. They crossed 37th Street.

“So you think Mr. Hopper will count that project for double like he said…”

Her brow pulled together as they passed the shoe repair shop, address number 3701. A guy at the next shop over stood outside yelling, “3 days left for this amazing sale! 2 deals for the price of 1!” Where had she heard those numbers before?

The bum along the wall of the building grunted and jumped as a pigeon above pooped along the sleeve of his jacket. Stella pressed an inch closer to Rocky and they swerved out of the way.

“5 bucks is all it takes! Just 5 to try your luck! Who’s got 5?”

A street magician shuffled a deck of cards between his hands, like liquid that poured from a faucet. Stella blinked.

She grabbed Rocky’s arm. “Come on. We need to get to school.”

They crossed 38th, walked half a block, then the crunch of metal stopped them short. A three car pile up sat just feet from the curb. The lead car–a BMW that looked brand new–was crumpled like a piece of paper, its license plate twisted in half. Only the 971 part of the tag was still visible.

“Wait.” Stella’s heart raced.

“60, 59, 58.”

“You said that number, didn’t you? The one on the license plate?” She narrowed her eyes at the boy but he still wouldn’t look in her direction.

“55, 54.”

“And you’ve been counting each street we cross minutes before we even cross it, haven’t you?” Stella was right. She knew this in her soul. How had she never seen the connection between the numbers before?

“10.7, 10.8, 53.”

“Rocky, what do the numbers mean? Why do you repeat numbers all the time? Why did we see them just after you said those exact numbers?”

“7, 35.”

“Rocky, how can you do this? What does it mean?”

He shifted on his feet, his fingers at work on the straps of his pack. “41, 40.”

A man and woman stormed past as their voices echoed through the streets. “1 good reason! Just give me 1, Nancy! 1 reason why I should stick around this time!”

Stella’s heart sank to her knees. “Rocky. How do you know? Tell me how you know.”

For the first time she could ever remember, Rocky turned and looked Stella directly in the eyes.

“19, 18, 17.”

“Rocky?” Her lip quivered and her voice was small.

“I’m sorry, Stella. 10.9, 3, 2.”

She glanced at the clock in the square. 7:35 exactly.

The ground rumbled then it sank below their feet.


©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016


Photo credit Unsplash Loic Djim

NaNoWriMo 2016: The End

Just wow!! I can’t believe NaNoWriMo 2016 is finished! And did I mention I WON?! How did everyone do? Did you meet your goal? Are you still alive??

Here are my final stats for the month:

Total Words Written: 54,086 (According to the NaNo site. Somehow when I verified my words with NaNo I lost 200+ words that Word says I had??)

Number of Chapters Written: 43

Well, I survived my very first ‘official’ National Novel Writing Month! It was intense and there were days I doubted I would be able to keep up the pace, but I can look back and say it was definitely worth it! NaNoWriMo was great incentive to get my next manuscript going and I’m excited to get it finished up so I can share it with all of you!!

What about you? Did you meet your word count for the month? How was your experience with National Novel Writing Month? Will you do it again? Please comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy writing, friends!



Book Review: DESTROY ME and FRACTURE ME by Tahereh Mafi

This is the last week of reviews of the “Shatter Me” series by Tahereh Mafi, *Sniff, Sniff* The entire series took up a solid 2 weeks of my life, and this was one series I was sad to see go. If you haven’t seen my previous reviews of the full length novels, check them out here, here and here! Otherwise, read on for my thoughts on the ‘in-between’ novellas that helped round out the characters of Warner and Adam!

DESTROY ME Synopsis:

Perfect for the fans of Shatter Me who are desperately awaiting the release of Unravel Me, this novella-length digital original will bridge the gap between these two novels from the perspective of the villain we all love to hate, Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me, Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up: Week #4

Week #4 of NaNoWriMo–Aaannnddd I’m done!



Here are my stats and what I hope to accomplish next week! (Even though I don’t have to!)

Words Written This Week: 9,943

Total Words Written During NaNo: 51,070

Total Number of Chapters Written: 42

Word Goal for Next Week: 4,000

So close, guys! Just a few more days and we’ll be done! Since I’ve already won NaNo, I set my goal low for the last 4 days–just 1000 words per day! Still motivation!

How did you do this week? Do you think you’ll make it? Comment below!

Happy writing, friends!


Book Review: IGNITE ME by Tahereh Mafi

Finally! Week #3 in my month long review of Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” series! This week I review Book 3 in the series–“Ignite Me.” This is the final book in the “Shatter Me” trilogy, although not my last review for the month! Read on to find out more!



The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.

The Review: 5 stars out of 5

I don’t have many words to say other than, Wow. This final book soared far above what my expectations could have conjured in my tiny little imagination! I could not have predicted the direction Tahereh Mafi would go with this story, but was pleasantly surprised when I read that last sentence. *sigh*

Juliette: I’m so happy to see how her character grew throughout this entire series–particularly in this novel alone. At the beginning of the series we see a broken almost soulless being, and it was so fulfilling to see her evolve into a strong confident woman. Yes, this change makes things different between the relationships she has with others, but I felt this depiction was true to life. I enjoyed watching Juliette as she discovered each new facet of her newfound power, and appreciated that her true abilities unfolded slowly over time, and that she didn’t master all elements of herself in a single chapter.

Warner: Ahhh, Warner/Aaron! Definitely not the same person as book 1, but in an entirely welcome way! To be honest, in book 2, I wasn’t so sure how Juliette could have feelings for him (although, strangely, I wanted to have feelings for him, too.) But this book solidifies who he is as a person, and why he is the way he is. It gives hope for him for a future and truly pulled at my heartstrings when Juliette turned him away. By the end, this guy is definitely the one I was rooting for, in all levels of the plot line. Yay, Aaron, for not turning out like daddy. P.S. I also loved that we saw a foreshadowing of where the name of this book came from, back in book 2! 

Kenji: I love this guy. (Who doesn’t, right?) In book 1 he served as more the comic relief character, while in book 2 he moved to annoying leader/friend. But in this book, he truly comes to be Juliette’s best friend, and I loved this about him. He’s always been a major character but somehow I think I viewed him as minor. In this book he breaks free of that mold, however, and he is possibly my favorite character of the entire series now!

Adam: *Spoilers* Oh, Adam. How I wanted to love you. Or even like you, really. Sadly, both Juliette and Adam have changed too much for their relationship to be anything other than toxic. Yes, by the end things have worked themselves out to a tolerable balance. But really, I mostly just wanted to smack this boy throughout the entire novel. Thankfully, Kenji was there to do it for me.

Final thoughts: Okay, so it’s no secret that I love, love, loved this series! Again, I appreciated this final book simply because it was so very different than I thought it would be. Also, I must say, I was counting the pages once I got close to the end. I honestly couldn’t see how Mafi was going to resolve the story effectively with so few pages left! I even went so far as to Google if there was a fourth book coming out. (There isn’t, BTW. *Sniff, sniff*) But just wow. Mafi not only tied up all loose ends, but the ending didn’t even feel rushed, like I thought it might. It ended with hope, but also left it so wide open to allow the reader to consider the direction of things for themselves. Do yourself a favor and give this series a chance!!

Next week I will tackle the novellas that go along with this series. Be sure to check back to see how they affect the overall arc of this fantastic series!

Happy reading, friends!

(“Ignite Me” by Tahereh Mafi is a YA dystopian novel with mild language and mild sexual encounters. Appropriate for older teens and young adults.)


NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up: Week #3

Week #3 of NaNoWriMo is over! *cartwheel, backflip* Yippee!! Here are my stats and what I hope to accomplish next week!

Words Written This Week: 11,204

Total Words Written During NaNo: 41,348

Total Number of Chapters Written: 36

Word Goal for Next Week: 10,000

How did it go? Are you ahead of your word count? What did you learn this week about your characters and the direction of your plot? Comment below!

Happy writing, friends!