As an avid reader, I hesitate to a series when the first book comes out, but The Brilliance of Stars is worth reading now (and re-reading when the sequel comes out)
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
Although it sounds like an oxymoron, this book really is an inspirational gothic novel! Find out why!
Are You an Avid Reader?
“How many books do you read, Mrs. Ojeda?” one of my students asked me last week in class.
“Umm…a day? A week? or a year?” I answered.
“Tell me how many books you read a year,” he replied.
“How many do I read or how many do I read, plus how many do I listen to?” I started a mental tally of both.
“Read and listen to,” he said.
“Probably between 80-120,” I answered.
“Wow, I guess you’re what they can an avid reader,” he said. “I was gonna brag about how many books I’ve read this quarter, but I’ll just keep quiet.”
“No, tell me how many you’ve read,” I urged him.
“That’s amazing,” I assured him. That’s a book a week! And you’re a student, so you don’t have as much free time as an old lady like me. How many books did you read before you started school here?”
“None,” he confessed.
“See, I’d call you an avid reader now.” I laughed with my best imitation of an evil chuckle. “My master plan is working!”
What about you? Do you consider yourself an avid reader? What makes a reader avid, anyway?
One of my many definitions includes wanting to read the next book in a series NOW (even if the book isn’t out yet.). J’nell Ciesielski’s The Brilliance of Stars fits this category.
The Brilliance of Stars (A Jack and Ivy Novel)
By J’Nell Ciesielski, Thomas Nelson, November 1, 2022, 400 pages.
At sixteen, Ivy Olwen knows how to survive the cruel streets of Washington, D. C. with her wits, intuition, and the help of her brother-by-choice, Phillip. In 1914, cities, states, and governments didn’t have a safety net for abandoned and orphaned children. Ivy and Phillip’s lives change when a clandestine organization takes them in—offering food, shelter, and an education. If she and Phillip pass the test, they can join Talon—a covert society dedicated to keeping evil at bay wherever it lurks.
Ivy, unsure of her abilities, finds Talon agent Jack Vale a faithful friend and companion. They spend hours in the library together and share a love of stargazing. As her training progresses, Jack becomes her sparring partner. As iron sharpens iron, Ivy and Jack sharpen each other.
In three years, Ivy’s gift for book learning and Phillip’s gift for mechanics and explosives gain them entrance into the ranks of full-fledged field agents. Their first task involves a European trip to take out the mysterious Balaur Tsar.
Danger lurks wherever they go, and Ivy, Jack, and Phillip struggle to find their quarry and assassinate him before Balaur Tsar uses the cover of the Great War to release a weapon of mass destruction on an unsuspecting world.
Jack Vale has longed for home his entire life. Brought into the Talon agency in his teens, the organization has honed him into a man of honor, courage, and daring. His first test of leadership will tax every skill he’s learned. But with Ivy at his side, Jack knows he can do anything.
Will his longing for home and Ivy be the downfall of the mission?
What I Loved About This Book
Ciesielski creates an intriguing world of assassins whose sole purpose is to keep evil at bay. Talon recruits agents from all walks of life, finds their unique skills, and fine-tunes them so they can accomplish just about anything. For orphans such as Jack, Ivy, and Phillip, Talon provides the family they lost or never had.
Readers will relate to Ivy’s love of books and learning and her struggle to apply all she knows to real life. They’ll cheer for Ivy as she tries to navigate her feelings for Jack in the middle of their difficult assignment. Ciesielski writes swoon-worthy scenes and follows them up with edge-of-your-seat suspense. Jack and Ivy’s verbal sparring adds a much-needed comedic element at times.
As part one in a two-part series, the ending left me feeling hopeful yet heavy-hearted over one of the supporting character’s storylines. I look forward to the sequel and more adventures with the intrepid Jack and Ivy.