Review: The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello

the stars shine bright book coverPublisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1595545367
Pages: 400
Format: eGalley
Rating: 4
Age recommendation: Teen, Young adult, Adult

After the FBI suspends her for bending its rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is looking for a chance to redeem her career and re-start her life.

Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger—and more sinister—is ruining Emerald Meadows.

She’s never felt more alone.

Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can’t turn to her family for support. They’re off-limits while she’s undercover, and her mother isn’t speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh’s fiancé wants them to begin their life together—now—precisely when she’s been ordered not to be herself.

With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the track’s trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiancé will make things better—or worse.

Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she’s faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright.


Impressive. That would be the word I’d choose to describe The Stars Shine Bright. The clues littered in the path leading to the climax so cleverly hid the truth making the climax and subsequent anticlimax all the more thrilling and “powerful”. The plot leading to the solving of the mystery is well constructed. Raleigh and Jack’s characters as well as relationship is developed just enough to keep you wanting more.

The Stars Shine Bright is the fifth book in the Raleigh Harmon novel series, but can be read as a standalone. I had no trouble understanding the story even though I’ve not yet read the previous four books. Of course, there are a number of references to the cruise related to book #4, The Mountains Bow Down, but the story isn’t dependent on it.

The story begins with Raleigh receiving her undercover assignment and being sent to the thoroughbred horse track. This is her one chance to save her career as a Special Agent with the FBI. Initially, it seems that someone is manipulating the horse wins for betting purposes. Then more sinister things begin to happen leading Raleigh to realize that there’s something more to it than someone toying with the results and bets. Not only does Raleigh has to uncover the mystery, her only contact with the FBI is her case agent, Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a person she considers her antagonist and cannot get along with.

Sibella brings us on an amazing ride filled with thrill, suspense, action, adventure, intrigue, and mystery. The ride ends with hope and a promise of more to come in a following book. Among the main character, my favorite character is Jack. His persistence is subtle and sweet. When we are introduced to him, it is through the impression given by Raleigh. He sounded like a jerk. To my surprise, his behavior was impeccable (mostly) and while he seemed not to care at times, his actions showed otherwise. As Raleigh was a forensic geologist, geological information was woven into the story every now and then. It was done well, though, so it didn’t disrupt the flow of the story and actually made it more interesting.

In conclusion, I loved The Stars Shine Bright. There is nothing not to like about it. All 400 pages captivated my attention. The promising ending leaves me wanting to read the next book. I don’t know how many books will there be in this series, but the forthcoming book or books must definitely be watched for.

About the author

sibella giorella authorSibella Giorello grew up in the mountains of Alaska admiring the beauty and nature that surrounded her. She majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts hoping to learn more about the landscape she loved back home. From there Sibella followed a winding path, much like the motorcycle ride she took across the country, which led to her true love, journalism.

She found herself in Seattle writing for rock-n-roll magazine and earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington before heading south to the land of great stories.

In Virginia, Sibella became a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was there she also met her husband and would hear Jesus whispering her name at a tent revival. Sibella started writing about Raleigh Harmon as a way to keep her love of story-telling alive while staying at home with her young sons. As a journalist and author, her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. The Stones Cry Out, the first Raleigh Harmon novel, won a Christy award for debut novel in 2008. Sibella now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons. Visit Sibella at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this eGalley free from the author through Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Novelist Sibella Giorello is celebrating the release of the latest book in her praiseworthy Raleigh Harmon series by giving away a Kindle Fire!

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

the stars shine bright contest
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • The entire 5-book Raleigh Harmon series.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/25/12. The winner will be announced on 8/27/12 on Sibella’s blog!

Just click one of the icons below to enter. Tell your friends about Sibella’s giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Posted on August 15, 2012, in Book Reviews, Giveaways and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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