Unit Study Inspired by Spark

When kids are interested in a topic, they’re more engaged and the process of learning is enjoyable. Which, in turn, helps foster a love for learning (and makes teaching fun).

And as both a homeschool parent and a writer, I felt led to combine the two areas to create printable unit studies centered around some of the great books I’ve featured on this blog.

Here’s, hopefully, the first of many. A unit study inspired by J.M. Hackman’s Spark.

Spark Unit Study
Topics: Bioluminescence, Cartography, and Griffins
Plus, don’t miss out on the discussion questions J.M. Hackman provided in the back of her book!

You can also find this unit study, along with other free teaching resources on this blog under Teaching Resources.

Just incase you want to know a little more, here’s a few related posts about Spark and other books in the Firebrand Chronicles series.

Spark (book review on Lands Uncharted)
Flare (book review)
Firebrand Chronicles (world building interview)


A Review of “The Girl Who Could See”

The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson is a science fiction thriller with a thread of romance. While aimed at new adults (ages 18-25), it’s also suitable for mature teens.

Nineteen-year-old Fern Johnson struggles to hold a job and ignore her imaginary friend. She only wants to care for her niece, and shield her from the same childhood—the same trauma—Fern suffered. A trauma Fern can’t remember, but that brought Tristian, her imaginary friend, into her life.

In The Girl Who Could See, a contemporary sci-fi, Kara Swanson weaves a tale layered in action, mystery, and suspense with hauntingly beautiful prose. Exciting and, at times, heart wrenching, this novella explores the themes of love and sacrifice. Fans who enjoy a blend of crime-thriller suspense, science, and heart will enjoy The Girl Who Could See. Highly recommended.

And, if you prefer audiobooks, the narrator does an excellent job of reading.

The Girl Who Could See is available on Amazon.

Content Guide

Romance (low)
Flirting and a kiss.

Violence (low)
Mention of blood, bleeding, and violence. Nothing graphic or detailed.

Language (low)
Two instances of the word stupid.

Sensitive Topics (low)
Fern comes from a broken home. Mention of drugs, trafficking, and abduction. Nothing graphic or detailed.

About The Girl Who Could See

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see. 

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

Visit Amazon for more details and reviews.

About Kara Swanson

As the daughter of missionaries, KARA SWANSON spent her childhood in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate to characters dropped into a unique new world, she fell in love with the fantasy genre and was soon penning stories herself.

​Shortly after moving stateside, Kara received the Mount Hermon Conference “Most Promising Teen Writer Award.” Her latest release, The Girl Who Could See, was a finalist for a 2018 INSPY Award and won the 2018 Parable Award. 

Swanson is on the faculty for the Young Writer’s Workshopalongside best-selling authors Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe, where they guide thousands of young writers. She is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency and has been on staff for the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conferenceand the Realm Makers Writers’ Conference. She works with many authors and editors as a communications and marketing assistant, as well as offering critique and proofreading services. She has had articles published in online and print magazines, including Brio MagazineThe Rebelution.com and Encounter Magazine

Kara is passionate about crafting stories of light shattering darkness, forming sincere connections with readers, and becoming best friends with a mermaid—though not necessarily in that order.

​Kara loves to hang out with other book nerds and chocolate enthusiasts on Instagram (@karaswansonauthor), Twitter (@kswansonbooks), and on her website (karaswanson.com).


A Review of J.M. Hackman’s Flare

Flare, the second book in J.M. Hackman’s Firebrand Chronicles, is a fantasy adventure aimed at teens.

Flare takes us deeper inside the Jasper Territory as Brenna James, a wonderfully resilient and sarcastic teen with ADHD, and her friend Tiny travel to Ginselwyn by way of the travel portal. The story picks up after the dust has settled from the battles and prophecies that unfolded in the first book, Spark.

In the beginning, things seem peaceful. But shifting clouds of subterfuge reveal a brewing storm for regaining power. By the end of this fantasy adventure road trip, Brenna and her beloved Linneah are not the same and readers are left with a sense of the war to come.

Flare is a refreshing blend of flavors fans of Spark will enjoy. I eagerly await the next book in the series to see how Brenna’s story continues (and Baldwin’s, but that’s all I can say).

*While a complimentary copy of Flare was provided, I also bought my own in paperback. Because I love this series.

Flare is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBook, and Kobo.

About Flare

Brenna travels to Linneah via a portal to visit her boyfriend Baldwin, only to find heartbreak. Betrayal. A serious case of never, ever wanting to see him again. Worst summer vacation ever.

So when her best friend Tiny invites her on a road trip to meet Tiny’s fiancé, Brenna jumps at the chance. Even if her mother disapproves. Even if it’s through a dangerous travel portal. Even if Tiny has never met this fiancé handpicked by her dad. Anything’s better than staying in Linneah.

But the trip disintegrates into disaster. The two friends are separated, Brenna is kidnapped, and not only are Brenna’s Firebrand skills tested to the limit, she must participate in the dangerous event, Starfall . . . or go home. Broke. Alone. With a shattered heart. So not fun.

And then as if that’s not bad enough? Brenna discovers a plot that could spell disaster for everyone she holds dear. And no one believes her.

Can she prevent a bloody government takeover? And what will become of Brenna’s broken heart?

Visit L2L2’s website for more details.

About J.M. Hackman

J. M. Hackman loves thunderstorms, bookstores, and happy endings. She’s never met a reading nook she didn’t like and prefers soul talk to small talk. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her two munchkins and her handsome husband who supports her in this crazy profession. Her days are filled with writing stories, consuming massive quantities of dark chocolate, and looking for portals to other worlds. You can find her at www.jmhackman.com.

You can also follow J.M. Hackman on Facebook and Instagram.