ARC REVIEW: The Secret Of Heaven – by Felix Alexander @ReadingAlley

Title: The Secret Of Heaven
(Aiden Leonardo #1)
Author: Felix Alexander

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Adventure
First published: 2016
Publisher: ForeverPoetic
Finished reading: August 22nd 2017
Pages: 311

“The truth must be understood. Not solely for the purpose of being accepted, but for humanity as a whole to achieve enlightenment.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Every once in a while I like to change up genres and read something different. And while The Secret Of Heaven is partly a thriller, it was the promise of adventure and ancient mysteries that closed the deal for me. I love reading about conspiracy theories and secret societies so it is easy to say I was looking forward to this one, especially since I had previously enjoyed one of the author’s stories. Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way. I’m not sure if it just was me reading The Secret Of Heaven at the wrong time, but I really struggled to get a proper feel for this story. There are a lot of different characters involved and this makes it hard to keep up wih the what and who and how everything connects. More than once I had to stop reading and try to remember what the role of a certain character was and this slowed down the pace considerably. The plot also felt pretty chaotic and kept jumping back and forth between characters… Which took a while to get used to. I have to be honest here and say it took me a lot longer than expected to finish The Secret Of Heaven. The writing wasn’t bad and it really shows that the author has taken the time to investigate the historical details thoroughly. The (historical) descriptions are extensive and show just how important the so-called Lost Bible is… That said, those descriptions did also slow down the pace and while I normally love historical elements in a story, they didn’t manage to convince me in The Secret Of Heaven. As for the characters and their actions… I wasn’t really able to connect to them as there are simply too many characters in play in the first place; also, I’m not sure everything that happens in the plot is exactly credible. And while it kind of has that Dan Brown feel and sounds really promising, The Secret Of Heaven unfortunately didn’t manage to blow me away. Such a shame, because the story has a lot of potential!

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Professor of Biblical Studies Aiden Leonardo was the last person to see Lazzaro de Medici before he was murdered, so of course he instantly becomes the main suspect. The thing is: he cannot remember what happened the night before… Although he is certain he would never harm the man that took him in when his mother died. Something more complicated than just a simple murder seems to be at play though and Aiden soon finds himself right in the middle of a conspiracy, a hunt for a Lost Bible and a secret organization known as The Group. What will happen to Aiden and will they be able to find what they are looking for before it’s too late?

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I really thought I was going to enjoy this one and I’m still wondering if I picked it up at the wrong time, but the fact is that The Secret Of Heaven didn’t manage to convince me in the end. The writing isn’t bad and it shows that the historical elements are very well researched, but there were too many characters involved and the pace wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be with the extensive descriptions slowing it down. I normally love historical details so I was really surprised I wasn’t able to enjoy this story more!


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WWW Wednesdays #151 – August 23rd

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally continuing with The Missing Girls by Carol Wyer… It’s not that I didn’t want to read it (in fact it’s the other way around), but I had some other books I needed to read first and then I was behind with reviews and didn’t want to mix things up in the reviews by reading too many similar books. 😉 I’m also starting Monsters Of Men by Patrick Ness as soon as I finish The Missing Girls. I was going to read it last week but ended up reading a different Patrick Ness title instead after seeing the movie first on Netflix (which I never do and had to remedy that by reading the book immediately after). I’ve still posponed Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro until I finish some other reads first because I just can’t get into the story right now.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
I really wanted to enjoy this story, but unfortunately I did stumble upon a few problems that made it harder for me to actually enjoy the reading experience. I’m not saying the writing is bad at all, but I do think it is something that either works for you or it doesn’t. Once I got used to it, Girl In Snow did turn out to be quite a fast read and there were some aspects and themes I really liked. Cameron is quite an interesting character both because of his memory loss and mental health issues. I can’t say I actually liked the characters and I wasn’t sure if some aspects of the plot and connections were completely credible, but the right person will probably love this story.

2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/08
I should have known already I would love this book after seeing so many glowing reviews and after positive experiences with some of his other stories, but WOW. This is hands down my new favorite Patrick Ness story and it will be hard for any other story to live up to this one. Between the brilliant prose, characters, powerful and emotional topics and perfect mix of reality and fantasy there just isn’t something I didn’t love about A Monster Calls. Read this book if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.

3. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 24/08
If you like fast-paced and twisty thrillers that read like a train, you will love The Kind Worth Killing. This story is packed with plot twists that will both surprise you and keep you guessing about what will happen next until the very end. The writing is excellent and only helps enjoying the story even more. The flashbacks to the past of Lily don’t distract from the main plot at all and only help to develop her character further. In short, definitely read this title if you haven’t already and like the genre. It’s just as good as everybody keeps promising in their raving reviews!

4. Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips (3/5 stars) REVIEW 26/08
While I had problems with the credibility of it all, I did very much enjoy reading Fierce Kingdom and I could really appreciate the refreshing plot and the fact that it isn’t just another psychological thriller. The focus on the bond between Joan and her son was interesting and added a whole different level to this story. Definitely one to keep in mind.

5. The Secret Of Heaven by Felix Alexander (2/5 stars)  REVIEW 28/08
I really thought I was going to enjoy this one and I’m still wondering if I picked it up at the wrong time, but the fact is that The Secret Of Heaven didn’t manage to convince me in the end. The writing isn’t bad and it shows that the historical elements are very well researched, but there were too many characters involved and the pace wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be with the extensive descriptions slowing it down. I normally love historical details so I was really surprised I wasn’t able to enjoy this story more!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have two Netgalley ARCs with upcoming deadlines I need to read: The Accident by S.D. Monaghan and I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist. If I read both and manage to not get any new titles it means I’ll finally be below my 5 pending ARCs limit! 😀 😀 I’m also dying to finally pick up Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab… I still don’t know why it’s taking me this long other than that I don’t want this duology to end yet. And I have a new TBR jar pick! Flowers For Algéron by Daniel Keyes, a modern classic that I can conveniently use for one of the challenges as well. 😉


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WWW Wednesdays #150 – August 16th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I decided to give Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka another shot since the deadline is coming up, and this time it’s definitely going a lot better. I can’t say I love it, but it seems to be a very fast read so far. As soon as I reach the final page, I’m picking up The Missing Girls by Carol Wyer. I’ve been dying to read this book ever since it appeared on my kindle and I can’t bear to wait any longer! I’ve also posponed Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro for now because I just can’t get into the story.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Dead To Me by Stephen Edger (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 17/08
There is a lot to love in Dead To Me and I would probably have given it a lot higher rating if it wouldn’t have been for the main character Kate. Sadly I couldn’t ignore the fact that she is the most important character of this new series and the whole story is told around her… And it’s really hard to properly enjoy a story when you absolutely despise the main character, no matter how good the writing and plot are. The writing, plot, twists and intense feel were more than promising and I do hope there will be a ‘Kate-less’ thriller by his hand in the future.

2. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore (4/5 stars) REVIEW 18/08
Reincarnation Blues isn’t the type of book I normally pick up, but sometimes browsing outside your comfort zone can bring some very pleasant surprises. This book turned out to be a hidden gem and I really enjoyed following Milo’s story as he lives his lives through time and space. Some chapters were a bit too futuristic for me, but that is probably mostly me since sci-fi isn’t really my genre in the first place. The writing was wonderful though as well as the rest of the story.

3. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 20/08
I was pleasantly surprised by just how easy it was to read this classic. Sure, the dialogues felt a bit dated, but the rest of the writing read naturally and made it really easy to enjoy Mowgli’s story. The other four stories included afterwards weren’t as enjoyable for me and lowered the rating a bit, but all in all I can definitely recommend The Jungle Book to those who are looking for an easy and entertaining classic. The songs at the beginning of the chapters were a nice touch!

4. Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/08
I have been looking forward to this title for a while now and it was without doubt just as good or even better than hoped. I had such a great time reading Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore and the two mysteries/puzzles that are included are both fascinating and well executed. The bookish elements are a true delight and I had a great time discovering more about Joey and Lydia, their past and their development. The writing is wonderful as well and made me fly through the pages… All in all I can highly recommend this title.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I really need to pick up The Secret Of Heaven by Felix Alexander since it’s an ARC way past due… Afterwards I’m probably going to pick up Monsters Of Men by Patrick Ness next because I really want to know how the story ends. I also need to read The Accident by S.D. Monaghan to help me clean out my Netgalley shelf (which is going really well as I only have eight titles left; and two less after I finish my current reads). My newest TBR jar pick is still The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. Looking forward to be reading it soon!


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WWW Wednesdays #146 – July 19th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I started with Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira yesterday since I needed a change of genre after Stillhouse Lake… Somehow I didn’t think another thriller would have been able to live up to that story right now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the change of genre will work, because I want to continue with Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka afterwards… And I’ve read about 30 pages of Sister by Rosamund Lupton (which I’m actually reading in Dutch) and the struggle is real haha. I’m not convinced so far and I’m not sure if it’s because of the language barrier or the story itself…

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The List by Patricia Forde (3/5 stars) REVIEW 
The List is without doubt based on a very fascinating and original concept I would easily have given the highest rating for. The language elements are very interesting as well and this was definitely my favorite element of the story. That said, it did take me way longer than expected to read this Middle Grade story and I had difficulties connecting to both the writing style and the characters. I ended up having mixed thoughts about The List, but I guess the story can go either way for you.

2. The Breakdown by B.A. Paris (4/5 stars) REVIEW
I’m aware that The Breakdown has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, but I personally had a really positive experience reading this psychological thriller. Then again I’m a sucker for any story with an amnesia/dementia angle and I found this element very well executed in The Breakdown. I didn’t particularly like Cass or the other characters, but the character development and growing forgetfulness and paranoia was brilliantly executed. In short I would definitely recommend giving this one a chance if you like the genre.

3. Confess by Colleen Hoover (2/5 stars) REVIEW TODAY
First of all I have to say that Confess by no means is a bad read, and I’m probably partly to blame for this story and me not being a right match. The writing style is just so readable and I do love the idea of the confessions turned into art and the way confessions are incorporated into the story itself. Confess isn’t just another sappy romance story and has a few very dark themes, but in the end it was the instalove overdose and inability to tolerate the main characters that ruined the reading experience for me. Oh well, I guess we can’t like them all… And what I said before is true: Colleen Hoover is always able to provoke very strong reactions with her stories whether they are positive or negative. And that is always a good sign.

4. Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (5/5 stars) REVIEW 20/07
Wow. Just WOW. I will need time to cool off, because this thriller has been one hell of a ride… Stillhouse Lake is hands down one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year and just so damn intense! Highly creepy serial killer: check. Intriguing plot and plot twists: check. Constant suspense and feeling something is off: check. Brilliant writing style that keeps you on the edge of your seat: check. Inability to trust any character: check. Being sure you figured it all out and finding out you’re wrong over and over again: check. Very realistic character development: check. Do I have to go on? Dark, twisted, messed up and oh so good… I’m going to keep my fingers crossed I will be able to squeeze out a somewhat more coherent review by tomorrow.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m getting closer towards my goal of finishing most of the ARCs on my Netgalley shelf, which means only one NG title on here: The Girls In The Water by Victoria Jenkins. I’ve heard lots of great things about that one! I also want to read The Secret Of Heaven by Felix Alexander, a Reading Alley ARC that will help me change genres a bit. And…. *drumroll* I’m finally going to read Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton! I’ve been posponing it for way too long now, so fingers crossed I will be able to move it to my currentlyreading pile by next week. My newest TBR jar pick is still Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, which I’m hoping to read before the end of this month.


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WWW Wednesdays #139 – May 31st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently almost done with the Reading Alley ARC Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil by Tim Symonds, a Sherlock Holmes retelling set in China which is proving to be an interesting read and just the romance-free story I needed right now. I’ve also started with the ARC The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro, but the beginning felt a bit chaotic and I wasn’t in the mood for it… Hopefully I will like it better after having had a short break from it, especially since it’s due soon. I’ve also made progress with the classic Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; I actually think I would have finished it already by now but I had to read a few pending ARCs first.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
The Last Valentine isn’t just another historical romance novel. The 1930s setting in Puerto Rico is without doubt well executed and helped set the right atmosphere, but it is the whole mystery around the Labyrinth of Love Letters and other secrets and conspiracies that will keep you intrigued until the very end. The dose of (sappy) romance cliches was a bit too high for me, but I did appreciate the many quotable references to romance in general. Romance fans will most likely love this story!

2. Feel Me Fall by James Morris (4/5 stars) REVIEW
Feel Me Fall is without doubt a superfast and entertaining read. I really liked the mix of Amazon survival/adventure chapters with contemporary high school flashbacks and those set in the hospital after Emily is rescued. It’s just the right balance and makes this story that much more interesting to read. I could have done without the cliches and love triangles, but overall this is definitely a great read. The writing style is very engaging!

3. Heartborn by Terry Maggert (2,5/5 stars)  REVIEW
I can’t deny there is a lot of potential in this story, and it’s a shame the fantasy world has been described only so briefly. An extra 100 pages or so would have helped develop their world better and that would probably help enjoying this story a lot better. I also had problems with the credibility of it all, mostly due to Livvy’s reactions to so many (for her) shocking details. The final part of the story also felt a bit rushed and the ending abrupt. All in all a lot of potential, but in the end it just didn’t work for me.

4. The Serial Killer’s Daughter by Lesley Welsh (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW UP TODAY!!
Although the title The Serial Killer’s Daughter is actually sort of a spoiler of what is to come, there is no doubt that this story is a well written character-driven psychological thriller with a sublime character development. The pace is a bit slow and there might not be as much action as you would suspect there to be in a serial killer thriller, but the story is full of twists and the characters more than make up for it. You will be able to meet one for the most twisted and creepy serial killers I’ve encountered with to this date and get to know him (almost too) intimately; definitely the stuff nightmares are made from.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I was actually going to pick up Love, & You, a poetry bundle written by fellow book blogger (ChicNerdReadsGretchen Gomez, last weekend but I had to read some ARCs first and didn’t want to rush it. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it and I can’t wait to finally read it myself! I want to read And I Darken by Kiersten White soon since I have the ARC sequel coming up… And the historical fiction ARC The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien is also on my list, as well as the ARC The Breakdown by B.A. Paris which I have been neglecting for way too long.


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ARC REVIEW: The Last Valentine – by Felix Alexander @ReadingAlley

Title: The Last Valentine
Author: Felix Alexander

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
First published: February 13th 2017
Publisher: ForeverPoetic
Finished reading: May 24th 2017
Pages: 241

“In their infinite wisdom they fail to realize that love keeps us young after youth has passed and is the only memory worth remembering when the shadows of forgetfulness linger on the horizon of old age.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I love stories with a different setting so the fact that The Last Valentine is set in Puerto Rico was a big selling point for me. Add the promise of the combination of a historical fiction and mystery read, and I just knew I had to read this story…And it has definitely turned out to be an enjoyable read. Both the 1930s setting in Puerto Rico and the whole mystery around the labyrinth of love letters stood out for me. The descriptions are well done and I found myself looking forward to discover more about both the characters and what would happen to them. The writing style is enjoyable and also very quotable. I loved the inclusion of various Spanish words in the prose; it made the story feel that much more authentic without slowing down the pace for those who don’t understand the language. The main plot of trying to unravel the mysteries around the labyrinth is intertwined with various love stories, secrets and conspiracies that will keep you interested until the very end. I did feel the dose of forbidden love, love triangles and romance in general was a bit too high for me and some of the characters started to annoy me because of it, but that might just have been me not liking those elements in general in the first place. It’s not just the romance between the characters though, because The Last Valentine also talks a lot about romance itself with the help of for example love letters, romance quotes etc. If you enjoy a well written romance novel with a dose of mystery and historical facts will probably enjoy it even better than I did!

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Olivia Villalobos is the daughter of a drunkard police investigator and never knew the truth behind the disappearance of her mother. One day she finds a bloodstained love letter in the hidden compartment of her father’s coat… she is convinced it belonged to the man recently found dead, and is determined to find the Labyrinth of Love Letters to deliver it before someone else takes it away. The labyrinth is believed to be an urban legend, but is that all there is to the mysterious place? Olivia starts her search with the help of her best friend Isaac Quintero and soon they realize they might find more than they were looking for…

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The Last Valentine isn’t just another historical romance novel. The 1930s setting in Puerto Rico is without doubt well executed and helped set the right atmosphere, but it is the whole mystery around the Labyrinth of Love Letters and other secrets and conspiracies that will keep you intrigued until the very end. The dose of (sappy) romance cliches was a bit too high for me, but I did appreciate the many quotable references to romance in general. Romance fans will most likely love this story!


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WWW Wednesdays #138 – May 24th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently still reading the Reading Alley ARC The Last Valentine by Felix Alexander, which is turning out to be another interesting read. I don’t have much left, so I will most likely finish it today… And as soon as I do, I will continue with another ARC: Feel Me Fall by James Morris. I’ve read a few of his stories in the past and enjoyed them, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one! The blurb sounds just too good. I’ve also finally picked up my copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott again, and this time I’m going to stop procrastinating and just finish this classic. Maybe the cold weather will set the right atmosphere?

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Be My Killer by Richard Parker (4/5 stars) REVIEW 
As soon as I read the blurb I just knew I had to read this story. I have a weak spot for serial killer thrillers and the one described in Be My Killer sounded like a true ‘beauty’. And I was right, because the murders were both gruesome, twisted and disturbing in general. Suspense and plot twists are stacked up to dangerous heights until you find yourself unable to stop reading until you reach the last page… I didn’t like every character and had some minor problems with the credibility, but that didn’t stop me from reaching the last page in record time. And what a ride!

2. One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
One Of Us Is Lying ended up being even better than I thought it would be. Sure, the characters started out as cliches, but they were really easy to connect to and ended up growing into something so much more… The writing style is highly enjoyable and only adds to the fast pace of this story. The plot twists are excellent as well and all in all I had a great time reading it. More than recommended!

3. Secrets Of The Dead by Carol Wyer (4,5/5 stars)  REVIEW
Those who follow my blog probably know I’m a big fan of the mystery/thriller genre, and this sequel is without doubt another winner. From the enjoyable writing style, fast pace and misleading plot twists to the fact that Secrets Of The Dead has a serial killer; this book just ticked all the right boxes for me. I love it when a psychological thriller is actually able to surprise me! Because I was definitely in the dark about the ‘who’ until the moment it was all revealed.

4. Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley (4/5 stars)
I’ve actually just realized this is book number 600! since I started this blog! I still can’t wrap my head around that number… And such a wonderful story to reach that mark with as well. Words In Deep Blue has the most gorgeous cover and is a YA contemporary romance story that partly takes place in a book shop. I love the idea behind the Letter Library and all those letters being included in between chapters were a really nice touch. I literally flew through the pages and finished it in less than a day and really enjoyed it, although the love triangle did become a bit annoying.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

The first title I’m going to pick up as soon as I finish my current ARCs is Love, & You, a poetry bundle written by fellow book blogger (ChicNerdReadsGretchen Gomez. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it and I can’t wait to finally read it myself! I also need to read both The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro and The Breakdown by B.A. Paris as their publish dates are coming closer. I’m looking forward to both! And the fantasy ARC Heartborn by Terry Maggert is also still on my list.


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