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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