Sunday, March 10, 2019

Bookish Thoughts: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

I type, "Should I see a therapist?" ~ Opening of Beautiful Bad


Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward
Park Row, 2019
Crime Fiction/Thriller; 368 pgs

A 9-1-1 call brings the police to Maddie and Ian’s suburban home, in which clearly, danger is afoot. As the novel unfolds, we are given glimpses of the far and recent past, as well as what is occurring in real time. Tension is high as the first police officer on scene breaks protocol of waiting for back-up before entering the home. A child’s life may be at stake. A few weeks before that, Maddie began seeing a writing therapist, hoping to work through her anxiety about her son’s safety, her husband’s PTSD, and the camping accident that left her terribly scarred. Maddie and Ian recall their past: the day they met and their complicated relationship with each other, as well as their tumultuous friendship with Maddie’s best friend Joanna.

It is impossible to know who to trust as the novel starts out—and even most of the way through it. Being a reader of thrillers like this, my mind naturally starts sorting through the various scenarios an author might take the reader right from the start. I cannot turn off that part of my brain no matter how hard I try. Everyone or anyone could be guilty of anything—something. Exactly what, I may not know. In Beautiful Bad, it’s implied someone died. Who? Why? There are plenty of motives offered up and many directions the novel could have gone. I love that nearly every one of those was a strong contender. That says a lot about author Annie Ward’s ability to write a compelling thriller. But even for the reader who does figure out the who early on, there is still the question of how and what exactly happened that keeps us wanting to turn those pages.

I do not particularly have to like a character to enjoy a book like this, but there’s usually something about the characters that draws me to them, and it was no different in this case. I enjoyed the portions of the books narrated by Maddie, whose childhood in Kansas seemed rather ordinary, with the exception of her near death experience in the boat accident. It is clear not all is right in Maddie’s world, however, which we see as the story unfolds. Less is offered about her friend Joanna’s past, but I suppose that really isn’t significant to the story. However, what happens to her in Macedonia—it is. Ian brings with him his own baggage. An obsessive ex-girlfriend who doesn’t understand the word no. And all that he experienced in his career as a soldier and eventual mercenary. . . There is one scene in particular that still haunts me—and for anyone to have to actually go through that, I can’t even begin to imagine how that would torment them. Is it any wonder he is so broken and damaged?

As you can see, I enjoyed Beautiful Bad. I did find it slow going at times, especially during the first half of the book as we got to know more about the characters’ backstories. I liked the formatting of the book—the jumps back in time as the characters remembered different aspects of their past as well as the tense present day scene of Diane, the police officer, cautiously making her way through the house, not knowing what she would find around each corner. It made for a suspenseful read. I am anxious to see what Annie Ward comes up with next!


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Annie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Annie’s sophomore novel and first psychological thriller BEAUTIFUL BAD will be published by Harper Collins/Park Row books in March, 2019.

Annie received a BA in English Lit with an emphasis in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. While studying at AFI, she sold her first short screenplay to MTV/ BFCS Productions. Starring Adam Scott, STRANGE HABIT became a Grand Jury Award Winner at the Aspen Film Festival and a Sundance Festival Official Selection.

After film school, Annie moved to Eastern Europe to work for Fodor Travel Guides, covering regions of Spain and Bulgaria. She remained in Bulgaria for five years spanning a civilian uprising and government overthrow. The novel THE MAKING OF JUNE, which Annie wrote with the Bulgarian revolution and Balkan crisis as its backdrop was sold to Penguin Putnam and published to critical acclaim in 2002.

During Annie’s five years in the Balkans she received a Fulbright Scholarship, taught at the University of Sofia, and script doctored eight screenplays for Nu-Image, an Israeli/American film company that produced a number of projects in Bulgaria for the SyFy Channel. She was later the recipient of an Escape to Create artist residency.

She lives in Kansas City, Kansas with her family.


For more information about the author and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.




I hope you will check out what others had to say about Beautiful Bad on the TLC Book Tours route!


Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.  Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.





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29 comments:

  1. I keep seeing this book everywhere; which is a good thing. I'm glad you enjoyed the book, Wendy. Now I'll keep this book in mind during my next trip to the library.

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  2. Hmm, I don't know. I see a good buzz for it all over the blogosphere. I can put up with a slow beginning if it's necessary to build up the intensity later on. And different voices sharing about the same incident with their own opinion is a fun trope!

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    1. Rita - This may be darker than you would like. I think the build up was necessary and worth it overall.

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  3. I'm the weirdo who loves tons of backstory, and the premise of this sounds intriguing, so I'm going to have to keep an eye out for this, because it sounds right up my alley!

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    1. Stephanie - You are not a weirdo at all. I like backstory too! I thought this one was different and had elements I hadn't been expecting, particularly in terms of the backstory. I thought that made this thriller more personal and stand out on its own. I hope you like it if you do read it!

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  4. I also have seen lots of notice about this book. Am still a little on the fence about trying it, but if I see it at the library, I'll likely pick it up.

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    1. Kay - It seems to be popular right now. I hope you like it if you do read it. :-)

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  5. Apart from the story, I think the opener is wonderful.

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  6. I’ve got this one on my TBR list and am looking forward to reading it soon hopefully! Great review as always :)

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    1. Samantha - Thank you! I hope you like it when you read it. I'll be watching for your review. :-)

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  7. I can forgive a slow opening as long as the ending is good so I'll consider this book.

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  8. Hmmm... I"m intrigued by this but I think I'll wait to get it on audio. I've discovered I deal better with this genre - especially when there's a slow start involved - in that format.

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  9. Another author I've never read...but now want to. :)

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  10. Beautiful Bad is on my list as well. I don't like when back stories seem bogged down, but this sounds worth trying.

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    1. Diane - I look forward to reading your thoughts on it!

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  11. This is the first time I've heard of this book and it sounds fascinating! I'll have to keep an eye out for it, thanks for the great review! (:

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    1. Eustacia - It was! If you do read it, I hope you like it.

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  12. I enjoyed your review. I've got a copy of this book in my reading queue and I hope to get to it soon!

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    1. Catherine - Thank you! I hope you enjoy it when you read it!

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  13. My to-read list is so out of control but I have to add this one. I'm on a thriller/suspense kick so this one will fit right in! Thanks for being on the tour- Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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    1. Sara - Mine is too, but sometimes a book is just too tempting to resist, isn't it? Too many are. LOL I hope you like this one if you read it.

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  14. This is my first review of this book -- which like others is one I've seen a whole heap of recently. It sounds incredibly intriguing and complex too. You make an interesting point about the jumps in the writing too.

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    1. Verushka - It is complex and good! I am so glad I got the chance to read it.

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  15. I've been waiting for reviews of this book to see if I think it would be a good fit for me. Your review just completely sold me on it. I love how intricate the plot sounds.

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