Beautiful Bad

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Any book that starts with an exciting 911 call gets my attention.  BEAUTIFUL BAD by Annie Ward is a psychological thriller that centers around three characters:  Maddie (the wife), Ian (the husband), and Joanna (the best friend).  In the beginning, we learn that someone has been killed, but you don't find out who it is until the end of the book.  

Going back and forth in the storyline between the present and the past, we learn the story behind these three characters.  We also know that the killer was one of these those characters...or was it?  Was it a marriage gone bad?  A post-soldier with PTSD?  An abused wife?  A disenchanted best friend?  

BEAUTIFUL BAD is not a story I would recommend to my middle school students, but I would recommend it to my friends if you want a book to curl up with that will keep you guessing. To be honest, I did start figuring out the mystery about halfway through the book, but I wanted to keep reading to find out if I was right.  There were some great twists to the story that I hadn't expected, which was fun too.

I was given this book for my honest review.  It was published just this month.
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Really interesting premise but I went from loving the book the first half to not really sure what I thought the second half. It was worth my time and I finished it, just not sure if I would recommend.
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I’m giving Beautiful Bad a 2.5/5 stars. This book sounded so intriguing to me when I first saw it, and I was so excited to finally get to read it. And for most of the book, I was absolutely loving it. The plot wasn’t very fast moving, and it jumped around a lot, but I could still see that it was building up towards something big. But the ending, in my opinion, was a mess. Where the plot went was very interesting and quite disturbing, but there was so much left unanswered and unsaid. A lot of the information in the end was also just directly told to the reader and there wasn’t much speculation to be had. The characters all became completely different, and I felt like they were acting out of character. This book could have been amazing if the ending had just been different. How it ended was fine, but the execution of that ending was far off what this book this deserved. I’m sure other people liked the ending and the book as a whole, but it just felt awkward and wrong to me. Other than the ending, I loved the book. That’s why it’s getting a half rating from me. I loved the depth and imperfections of the characters and just how unique this book was. The plot jumped around a lot between the different timelines, which I actually really liked. It gave you just enough of a taste of each timeline before it would switch. Without much action for most of the book, that was a great way for the author to keep the reader engaged. I do think that I will try to pick up another book from this author to see if any of her other books are a little bit better.

I received a free, advanced copy of this book through NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Title:  Beautiful Bad
Author:  Annie Ward
Genre:  Psychological thriller
Rating:  3.0 out of 5

An aborted 911-call brings an officer to a quiet house, with signs of a struggle and blood. Lots of blood. A terrified child and two frightened, battered women, along with the dead husband of one of the women tell the same story:  crazy, ex-military man snaps and tries to strangle his wife’s best friend, so his wife kills him in self-defense.

But to get the whole story, you must go back in time to when Maddie and Ian first met, back in the war-torn Balkans where she and Jo lived and worked and played, and Ian was a bodyguard. Back to when Maddie came home after 9-11 and struggled to start her life over, and Ian abandoned her for nine years. Back to their fledgling relationship and new marriage, when Ian wanted a quiet country life and Maddie wanted to travel and explore, and instead they had a baby. Back to that night in the forest camping, where Maddie was injured, but she doesn’t remember how.

Only by going back do you learn what happened now.

I finished reading this, but it was a struggle. Maddie is an unreliable—and for me, unlikable—narrator, and Jo is…erratic. So is Ian. Basically, none of the relationships in this story made sense to me. Obsession, maybe, dependence, surely, but love and caring? Nope. Didn’t see it. The ending is supposed to be a shock, but…it wasn’t. The signs are there all along and aren’t exactly subtle. 

Annie Ward lived and worked in the Balkans, was a Fulbright Scholar, and now writes novels. Beautiful Bad is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Park Row via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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Blog: The Life & Times of a Book Addict


It all started with an emotional 911 phone call and a visit by the police to a quiet well-manicured neighborhood... 

Beautiful Bad had a really good beginning that grabbed my attention. I would consider this book to be more of a slow burn suspense/thriller story. The book is told mainly from Maddie’s point of view along with Ian’s POV jumping in here and there as the book progresses. 

Maddie was an interesting character to get to know; though I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters. That’s probably the point with a book like this.  My only major complaint was that there were times when I questioned why Maddie and Ian were even together. I didn’t really believe in their love story. 

Aside from that, I thought that Beautiful Bad was well written and the author did a good job of building suspense and creating intriguing characters. I liked how the story flip-flops between the past and the present; before the incident and after the incident; which helped to draw the suspense out. I thought I pretty much had it all figured out on how everything would end. I was right about some things, but there were a couple surprises and twists at the end that I hadn’t expected. 

RATING: 3½ out of 5.
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MY REVIEW- Thank you TLC Book

ours and Park Row Books for gifting me a copy of this book , in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

This is one of those kind of books that is going to draw a line in the middle of the sand, people who love it will be on one side, and those who disliked it will be on the other, and then on the sidelines will be the ones who just flat out liked it.

I loved the strong start, to this book. I love being gripped by the first chapter, it sets a good precedence, and I feel like I can read the book at a much faster pace. I read a lot of Thrillers, so I love when this happens!

I did find the book a tad bit predictable, and there were parts I struggled with, but that’s to be expected with momentum building thrillers. I enjoyed Ward’s writing style, it wasn’t generic, and over dramatic, she didn’t use a lot of jargon, it flowed nicely. For me, it as a one more chapter kind of book. I am glad this book turned out so well for me, because it was a very highly anticipated one for me!
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First, I would like to thank Park Row (Harlequin) Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with a free Kindle ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Annie Ward’s "Beautiful Bad" transports the reader between third-world war-stricken countries and the small town of Meadowlark, Kansas as it follows multiple timelines. Maddie lives a life of thrills and living on the edge of danger as an instructor and travel writer in her twenties, where she meets Ian, a British bodyguard with a dark allure. Twenty-six years later, we find Maddie in the present, in which she is now married to Ian in Kansas, where they live with their young son Charlie despite Maddie’s worldly nature. We also find Diane, a patrol cop, entering an active crime scene at the couple’s home where an ominous pool of blood confirms that someone inside that house is dead. 

Ms. Ward does a fantastic job of making the jumps between timelines fluid for the reader. Nothing is more aggravating than struggling to orient oneself from chapter to chapter, but Ms. Ward bridges the transitions expertly. In order to gain context for how we have come to the point where someone has been murdered, we must understand each character’s past. The reader accompanies Maddie as she visits her eccentric psychologist, who is determined to establish that Maddie has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) at the hands of her husband, despite Maddie’s insistence that she fell. The reader follows Ian through his numerous jobs in the military and in security, where he suffers near-death and otherwise traumatizing experiences that have led to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Both Maddie and Ian live in paranoia and tend to catastrophize world events, imagining those dangers coming to their small town and destroying the ones they love. 

Overall, I was completely engrossed in this book, finding myself with the urge to read at stoplights (which I avoided, painfully). Everything leading up to the end was a fantastic experience; it is just the end itself that left me feeling at a loss. Perhaps I do not agree with the author’s choice of direction, but I also feel that this was the least developed part of the book. I can see how she came to the decision to end it in the way she did, but I do not feel she expresses those reasons adequately for the reader, especially if the reader has no prior understanding of TBI or PTSD. For this reason, I feel that a near-perfect book was cheated of the perfect rating it deserved, and I feel that 4.5 stars is appropriate.

I would recommend this book for anyone interested in psychological suspense and domestic thrillers.
#breakingbad #netgalley
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Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward is a great example of a book that I loved for the first half or so, then changed my mind about once the story took a sharp turn. Told in alternating viewpoints and timelines, the story of Maddie and Ian’s relationship unfolds from courtship to marriage—culminating in The Day of the Killing.

Maddie and Ian meet when she’s working as a travel writer overseas and he’s in the British Army. Maddie divides her time between writing and visiting her best friend, Joanna, an international aid worker.

When Maddie first meets Ian through mutual friends, she isn’t left with the best first impression of him. But over time, Ian charms his way into her good graces. Although Joanna attempts to steer Maddie away from Ian, Maddie follows her heart and falls in love with him.

Sixteen years later, Maddie and Ian are married with a son, Charlie, and living in Maddie’s Kansas hometown. She and Jo have had a falling out and haven’t spoken in some time. Worse yet, Maddie has had a horrible accident that took place while out camping with Ian and Charlie. The accident has left her disfigured and with no memory of what happened that night.

As Maddie attempts to recover her memories through writing therapy with a psychologist, she confesses her fear about Ian’s increasingly volatile personality. Maddie needs to get to the truth and she will protect her son at any cost.

There’s a lot to unpack in this story. As I mentioned, I enjoyed it quite a bit for the first stretch, until some of the major plot points happen and I wasn’t sure where the story was going.

When the big twist is revealed, I was actually pretty disappointed. I didn’t think that the resolution lived up to the building suspense of the first part of the story. I also didn’t love the ending, which left me feeling as if something was missing.

Overall, I wanted more of an explosive twist and that isn’t present here. I also felt that the second half of the book isn’t quite as cohesive as the first part. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.
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I LOVED this book for so many reasons. It was hard to put down . The writing style was totally cinematic and engaging. It was also a pinch heartbreaking - I'm a huge fan!
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I'd heard so many people say that the ending to Beautiful Bad was truly shocking. I saw it coming, so that ended up being a bit of a letdown.

The story focuses heavily on three people. Maddie and Jo were best friends, joined into a friendship during their years in the Balkan Peninsula. The dangers they faced there drew them together. It's also there that Maddie was introduced to a British security officer, Ian. Their relationship grew fast but rocky.

In Kansas, Maddie and Ian are happily married with a young son Charlie. There's been a horrific crime and the police need to unravel what happened.

Beautiful Bad takes place in past, recent past, and present. You get to know Maddie's story when she lived in Bosnia and frequently went to Macedonia to see Jo, as well as her life in New York City and Kansas. Ian's story is told as he is in Iraq. There is also the police officer who responds to the 911 call and hears young Charlie's cries asking why someone hurt him.

The real-time account from the officer drew me into the story. As the story started flipping around from past to present, I started finding myself wishing for more of the current investigation. After a few chapters, I felt that the frequent flips back and forth were slowing the part of the plot that intrigued me. I started to grow tired of Jo and Maddie's story. When I started having to force myself to keep reading, I knew I was in trouble.

There is plenty of suspense in Beautiful Bad, and it started off so strong. I'm sad that it reached a point where it became exactly what I was expecting. I had the ending pegged too soon for this to be a keeper.
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This one started with a bang, quickly began to fizzle out, had some excitement near the end, then something else quite startling happens that is just briefly mentioned and the end. 

I honestly almost didn't finish this one numerous times. The very beginning was very interesting but the my mind just wandered for the next 70% or so. Drew me back in at the end but it was all just so predictable that I couldn't appreciate it at all. I felt that the timeline back and forth was a bit hard to keep up with at times and then throw in different POV's and during a lot of chapters it took a bit to remember which time/person it was based around. There was just so much information that really wasn't all that useful and it started to get a bit redundant. 

All in all it was just ok but I see many readers have absolutely loved it and you may as well.

**Received ARC through NetGalley. Voluntarily reviewed**
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Psychological thriller with a surprise ending. This story bounces around quite a bit from character to character and past to present. Lots of buried secrets through the years which will be revealed quite slowly. This book was not what I had expected. From the opening 911 call, I did not expect to jump back in time to Eastern Europe. I found the characters very unlikable which made the story hard to read.
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This thriller engaged me right from page one. It is the story of Maddie, a young mother living in the far south suburbs of Kansas City, who has twice survived life-threatening accidents and has the scars, both mental and physical, to prove it. 

She is married to Ian Wilson, a British soldier of fortune who has spent more than his share of time in war-torn, unstable countries and has seen some pretty horrifying things. He says now he just wants to live in peace and quiet with his family. But does he? Can he leave the violence of his job experiences behind? 

The story is told in various timelines centering around 'the killing': there is 'weeks before the killing', 'day of the killing', 'day after the killing' etc, but intermixed in this is the backstory of how Maddie and Ian met in Macedonia in 2001 and much later, become a couple. 

Most chapters are told from Maddie's first person pov but I noticed a few times when it switched to third person omniscient pov, I suppose so the reader would better understand the entire picture. 

Maddie's best friend is Joanna Jasinski. They met while teaching in Spain and have been inseparable while working various jobs throughout Europe until Ian comes into their lives. And always lurking on the fringes is Ian's crazy bipolar ex-girlfriend who still sends him sexy selfies. 

So as one reads this thriller, one is constantly wondering who is going to be killed and by whom? The answer to that may surprise you. Nicely done! 

I received an arc of this new thriller from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for some enjoyable reading.
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Beautiful Bad is an outstanding, multilayered and impressive work by Annie Ward. The story takes the reader across multiple continents and delves into many issues including, mental, illness, abuse and PTSD. At first it took some getting used to the back and forth of the time periods and multiple narrators, but it eventually made sense and had a nice flow to it. But I have to say that the last third of the book is what made it 5 stars for me. The ending was brilliant and completely unexpected and absolutely worked in making this an outstanding work of psychological fiction. I look forward to more from Annie Ward!

Many thanks to Netgalley, Park Row and Annie Ward for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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I’m literally speechless as I’ve finished the book... lost and out of words. I’m giving this a 3.5 stars for many different reasons. I both liked it and hated it at the same time. 

What I really liked about this book is it’s really well written to the point that I couldn’t stop reading it. I was literally doing other things and thinking of reading the book. I needed to get back to reading it. HOWEVER the fact that the victim of the crime, Ian her husband, had severe PTSD ended up being the one who was murdered for no reason just bothered me. Yes, he was building an underground shelter since he experienced things nobody should ever see. He was obsessed with the world falling apart and was doomsday prepping. The man experienced horrible things overseas. Maddie didn’t want to live that life for her son, but for THAT to be the reason why his wife planned to kill him just baffles me. They both wanted drastic futures and Ian’s didn’t fit Maddie’s so he had to go. 

If he was a horrible human being... yes there’s a motive. But  he had severe PTSD and it made me sad since I know people who have gone through that. 

All in all it actuality was a good book, but I didn’t feel right reading it. That’s why I kept it at 3.5 stars because it was a good read so others should read it, but it wasn’t a great fit for me.
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Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward starts with a frantic call to 911 followed by a bloody crime scene. It totally pulled me into the book and intrigued me enough to want to keep reading! 

We then go to ten weeks prior to the night of the murder and meet Maddie, our main character who primarily is telling her story.  The book goes back and forth from present day to the early 2000’s where we follow Maddie and her best friend through the time in Eastern Europe.  This is where we meet Ian, the love interest of both women who becomes Maddie’s husband.  One of these characters was murdered, but we need to read on to find out who...and why. 

This book started out great, but there were a lot of parts of the book that just felt really drawn out.  I wanted to know more about the murder and less about the past. Yes it was necessary to know about the way the three main characters interacted to understand why Maddie and Jo were estranged, but there was way too much backstory that was not necessary to progress the book forward.  

There were a few parts told from Ian’s point of view. It didn’t make sense to me to switch POV only for a handful of chapters.  

I didn’t figure out the twist which does say a lot to me about a mystery thriller so I definitely give Ward credit for that.  Once the book stays in the present day I thought it was really good. I liked the ending and was glad it kept me guessing. 

Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin-Park Row Books for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Maddie and Ian and their young son Charlie seem to be your average family.  But no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors and in sick minds.

A chance meeting overseas when they were young, Maddie and Ian soon develop a mutual crush, even though Ian has a girlfriend. Maddie's best friend Jo warns her that there is something off about Ian, but Maddie is not heeding the warning.  

Years later Maddie and Ian reconnect after a few failed attempts, much to Jo's angst and anger.  Their relationship becomes strained and then ends with Maddie losing her best friend.

The couple move to Kansas and have Charlie.  Both their worlds revolve around him.  Although their worlds are very different from each other's.  During a family camping trip Maddie has a terrible accident.  Due to a head injury Maddie begins to see a therapist and realizes she fears her husband and is frightened for their son Charlie.

Then there is a murder and a very suspicious police officer.

Not everything looks the way it seems does it? A story with twists and turns and an ending I never saw coming!  Beautiful Bad is a psychological thriller you won't be able to put down.
#NetGalley #ParkRowBooks

Thank you @NetGalley @ParkRowBooks @Annie Ward for the advanced copy.  Beautiful Bad is available now.
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Thank you Netgalley, Annie Ward, and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) for the advanced copy! I kept hearing about this title previous to release and was so excited to get an ARC to review, I was even more happy when I learned that I was right to be excited! This has all the unexpected turns you would hope for in a thriller, but the ending was what had sealed the deal! Five Stars all day long! 

Recounting Maddie’s experience after an accident believed to be domestic violence, she tries to find herself and learn what really happened. If told from Maddies’s POV only, I think this would have been a more intriguing read. The other 2 personalities had left me expecting and hoping for more. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a domestic mystery/thriller! You will not expect what’s coming!
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Beautiful Bad, and how  good it is to be bad! I am a sucker for psychological thrillers especially stories involving married couples. Beautiful bad has everything your looking for, and I could not put it down. Perfect marriage? Perfect crime? So many twists and turns and an ending that completely shocked me. So well written.
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What blows my mind about this book is that it actually started out as a memoir so the majority of the happenings actually did take place. If more memoirs were written in a novel type/somewhat fictionalized way then I'd probably read more... then again, they wouldn't quite be memoirs anymore now would they?

Maddie and Ian have had a hard time getting their relationship started. Considering the handful of times they met, the long distance and non-communication for several years, they somehow managed to find each other again. I didn't quite understand the attraction here or how they could pine over each other considering their limited interactions... HOWEVER, I do understand that sometimes people just get under your skin and you can't wash that away as easily as some people might expect.

There were a couple of things that I wish had a more polished finish - things with Fiona is one of them. And boy, what a character she is! Another is the camping accident... I need to know more! I felt wanting. Speaking of finishing, I definitely enjoyed the ending. While somewhat predictable, there was that extra twist that I didn't see coming.

I actually really do enjoy domestic thrillers. Though a lot have the same format and typical bad relationship turn deadly plot lines, when you include your actual life into one, it tends to read better for a reader like me. I'm always fascinated with the truth over fiction... meld them together and well, color me intrigued. Definitely a must read for domestic thriller lovers.
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