Customer Reviews for

Beautiful Malice

Average Rating 3.5
( 40 )
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  • Posted June 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    odd exciting psychological thriller

    During lunch at a Sydney high school, popular Alice Parrie invites a stunned bookworm Katherine to attend her eighteenth birthday bash. Alice explains it was the way Katherine ripped the skin off Dan Johnson for being nasty and little when a nervous woman gave a talk about the future.

    Four years plus since the party that changed her life and her surname, Katherine prays no one learns just who single mom Katherine Boydell raising Sarah was once. The tragedy of Alice is too mindful of the tragedies of Katherine's murdered sister Rachel and Sarah's father Mick; as the flamboyant teen drew out the dark secrets of her reticent new BFF. Thus then pregnant Katherine Boydell nee Patterson failed to attend Alice's funeral; she believes Aunt Philippa is at her side encouraging her to move passed the lingering grief she feels.

    This is an odd exciting psychological thriller starting with the opening stunning hook "I didn't go to Alice's funeral. I was pregnant at the time, crazy and wild with grief". From that moment readers will want to know who Katherine is and what did happen to all those in her sphere who died. Rotating between the present and four years ago, readers who appreciate a character driven thriller with limited action will want to know what happened to Katherine four years ago.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2010

    Never make the mayor of crazytown your bff!

    I don't know that it's meant to be read this way, but Beautiful Malice was a great mystery. The entire story is told in flashbacks. Katherine, an adult with a young daughter, is looking back on her senior year of high school when she met and knew Alice. Eventually her teenage self is remembering and telling Alice about the events leading up to Rachel's death. In both scenarios, the reader should, on some level, know how the story ends: Katherine grows up and has a child; Rachel dies. And yet, I never felt impatient waiting for that end to come. In fact, there were plenty of points in the senior year storyline when I was sure that things could not possibly end the way adult Katherine seemed to imply that they would. Moreover, when the endings finally did come they were plenty twisted, making them surprising even if they really do amount to Katherine growing up and having a child and Rachel dying.

    The bulk of the story is set during Katherine's senior year of high school, specifically when she is befriended by Alice. Katherine is Katherine, rather than Katie, because she is trying to move on in her life past Rachel's death, but it is still a big part of her. It takes a really long time for Katherine to open up to anyone, including the reader, about what happened to Rachel, and yet I wasn't annoyed by not knowing. From almost the beginning, I knew Katherine was dealing with some serious survivor guilt, but as her recollections of Rachel slowly unfolded, it became clear that her guilt went beyond just the guilt of still being alive. Katherine feels truly responsible for Rachel's death, and because her story of what really happened the night Rachel died is so drawn out, it looks like she just might be. She's dealing with all of this while she slowly gets sucked into Alice's world.

    Alice, by the way, is the mayor of crazytown. She's fun-crazy in the beginning, always managing to have alcohol and a party to go to (and an awesome dress to wear to it, and one for you to borrow besides). She lives in an apartment of her own, paid for by her birth mother who feels guilty that Alice was adopted by hicks. She seems so grown-up and exotic to Katherine, who used to be a more suburban version of her. Alice drags Katherine back into the social scene she should have always inhabited, introduces her to new people and experiences, gains her complete trust and (for a while) adoration, and then goes crazy-crazy. When Katherine stops worshiping the ground Alice walks on and gets her own friends, Alice becomes possessive and stalker-y. It's pretty scary, and the lengths she goes to (and why) left me speechless.

    I think Beautiful Malice will be devoured by readers looking for more thriller in their mysteries, but be warned that though Alice and Katherine are teenagers for most of the story, they have very few "typical" teen experiences. They're never in school, they hang out in bars, and they date grown men. I'm not saying that this book is inappropriate, because really, there's nothing graphic or too "adult" going on, but it's certainly not set in high school, even if the main characters are technically high schoolers.

    Book source: Review copy from the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2010

    Friends and Frenemies

    From my book review website Reader's Enchantment (

    I really enjoyed Beautiful Malice. I found Rebecca James's writing to be authentic, especially when it comes to teenage friendships and the newly termed "frenemy." This story begins with a haunting phrase ("I didn't go to Alice's funereal.") and moves on from there back and forth through time. In alternating chapters of the present, the distant past and the time Katherine spends with Alice, the reader begins to slowly understand that something is not quite right with Katherine, that she has secrets and no one suspects her true story.

    Katherine Patterson is a senior in high school, and she's new at her school, without many friends. So she's surprised when popular Alice invites her to a party and persuades the reluctant girl to attend. Alice introduces Katherine to her boyfriend Robbie, and together the three of them form a friendship and spend a lot of time together. Alice has some moments of incredible cruelty, but both Katherine and Robbie brush them aside when "sweet" Alice pleads for forgiveness time and again.

    Katherine eventually reveals her secret: she was once Katie Boydell, the girl who had a sister and was involved in a devastating crime that was splattered over the media. She changed her name and moved to a new city so she could have a chance at a normal senior year of high school.

    Through Alice, meets several other new friends, and these friends come to her aid when Alice suddenly turns on Katherine. Alice will not let their friendship die away; instead, she begins to stalk Katherine and confronts her in public places. Alice's behavior grows increasingly erratic, and while most would call the police for help, Katherine simply feels sorry for Alice and walks away from her every time.

    The eventual outcome is, for me, unexpected and deeply sad. There is so much heartbreak from a heinous crime, and the different possibilities of how a person moves on with their lives is illustrated well by the author. The characters are well written and their interaction is authentic. Because the author is Australian, I was afraid the setting would be too unfamiliar for me to connect with; instead, she writes a story that could happen anywhere.

    I'm not crazy about the cover of the book. There are some really awesome covers of books coming out in the next couple of months, and I don't think "Beautiful Malice" will be able to stand out in a bookstore.

    My only complaint about the novel is that the characters are still in high school. Katherine is only 17, and the birthday party Alice invited her to was to celebrate turning 18. I feel the maturity of the characters and their actions would have been more believable if they had all been in college, in their early 20s. However, I know that in Katherine's case, living through a tragedy can "age" anyone, so this is a very minor complaint.

    Overall, I think this is a very good book, one I rated as 4.5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this book to YA readers who may need a break from all the heavily published paranormal titles. This would also be a good book for readers in college since the characters are so mature, it won't have a feel of returning to the high school scene they just graduated from. Look for it in store July 13, 2010.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Could Not Put It Down!

    I couldn't put this book down! I had to keep reading this story grabs you from the first line and doesn't let you go!
    The Characters are great and the writing truly makes you feel their pain and happiness. I did figure Alice out early on but it didn't stop me from being enthralled in this book and its characters. Alice will keep you guessing you know from the beginning that something awful is going to happen with her and that adds to the tension of the book. Our protagonist is Katherine and she is dealing with the death of her sister and is trying to figure out how to live with the grief and guilt of the whole situation. She is a character full of raw emotion and I felt for her the whole way through. The supporting cast is also great you feel for Robbie and yell at him to run away run away. But I've seen people in situations like this who stay with people who treat them bad and keep going back for more so for me it was very true to life.

    I enjoyed the ending and was glad it worked out that way after everything these characters had been through.
    This is a great psychological thriller I would recommend to Young Adults and Adults alike!

    4 1/2 Stars

    Full Disclosure- I received this book through Librarything Early Reviewers Program-Thank-You!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    You will not put this down!

    What an absolutely fantastic read! I was lucky enough to win this book through early reviewers and when I opened it I could not put it down! I normally have two or three books going at once, but this one took precedence until I was able to finish it!
    In Beautiful Malice, you think Katherine has suffered enough by losing her younger sister---but fate had much more in store for her. The story was mesmerizing!! You learn the events by flashing between the horrible night of Rachel's death, the current day events of Katherine, and the main story that explains the connection of the two. There is even an unbelievable twist thrown in to just push you over the edge!
    Congratulations to Rebecca James on what is certainly an unforgettable story! I will keep her name in my memory for future works

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2014

    This boo was not my favorite at all. At first it was good becaus

    This boo was not my favorite at all. At first it was good because you want to know what happens to Katherine's sister and friend,Alice,. However, after you find out what happens to Katherine's sister everything just drags on and it seems like the author was just trying to find new plot twist just so the story would go on after the huge twist. It wasn't well written I was very much let down. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    Caustic and scary..

    I was not sure what to expect. But the fullness of character for both Alice and Katherine was sublime. Enough for me to enjoy as was given. But the shock, guilt and eventual awakening by all, after the twists and turns provided by Alice, kept me hooked. I knew something would happen but didn't expect the twisted demise. It was perfect, really.

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Something like a really depressing lifetime movie

    It just doesnt make any sense ... we have these 17 year old kids who are out drinking, never going to school, and living on their own with their bills very well paid for them - yet at the same time they are going through these very adult situations - You know from the start that Katies best friend is going to die - then shortly after that you relize the father of her baby is going to die by end of the book - her friends mom is dead - you have to read about the awful stuff her sister went through, and then be reminded of it over and over and over because she just cant deal with it and is constantly beating herself up over it - its just depressing - BUT I will say that I love Rebecca James writing - thats the only reason I gave it two stars - the begining of the book really made me belive the end would be amazing BUT it was so stupid - I expected so much more - total waste of time

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011


    Best book ever

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  • Posted November 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Emotional Rollar Coaster

    Great book, couldn't put it down, has some tough emotional parts but a really amazing and interesting book. keeps your attention and keeps you guess. definently makes you think about it.

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  • Posted October 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Beautiful Malice

    Katherine Patterson is a girl with a secret. A secret she wants to keep that way; so much so that she is a loner in her new school. But she brings attention to herself after making a remark to another classman that brings her to the attention of Alice. Alice seems to be the most popular girl in school and wants to be Katherine's friend. We watch as their friendship develops. But Alice has secrets of her own and Alice is a psychopath. The book builds you up to Katherine's secret and why she tries to hide her past. But all the buildup and the relationship between the girls made this story an okay read, but not something that made me say "wow".

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  • Posted September 30, 2010

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    BEST yet!

    Though some people may have found the jumping around confusing or just all our irritating, it seemed to only strengthen the suspense for me and kept me flipping through the pages, reading like a maniac. I think the skipping around worked well for this particular story because it kept giving you clues and insight into each of the times. While you know Alice dies, you don't know about Alice - so you get more into the time when Katherine and Alice become friends. While Katherine is grieving, you don't exactly know how and why her sister was killed - so you get chapters sporadically on the day that Rachel was killed. Honestly, all three time lines build up and come to the perfect conclusion(s) at the perfect time at the end of the book. All loose ends are completely tied.

    *I think one problem that some people had was the actual location the book was set. I have an ARC, so I don't know if it's fixed in the final version - but I've heard that the book was set in Australia, but for some reason they decided to take out those references for the US copies? I'm not sure how true all of that is. I can understand the confusion, but specific locations (ie- cities, states, countries) never bothered me as long as the setting is drawn out well.

    The characters were fleshed out well and kept to their own persona. Katherine was a heroine with a very tragic past, but I think that she handled her situations well, given the circumstance. Alice was definitely a mental-case, and you definitely love to hate her. Her friend with Katherine is certainly what I would call a toxic friendship - it's not a healthy relationship, but you can't help but somehow you just can't seem to let go. I love how James handled this with Katherine and Alice. Katherine's reasons for holding onto her friendship with Alice was realistic and something you can empathize with if you've ever been in that type of relationship before. Philippa comes into the story a little later on. She's a great female character that becomes the healthy (read: not psychotic) best friend of Katherine. I love Philippa. She's a keeper. Then there are the two main boys: Robbie and Mick. I fell in love with both! Robbie has a very rocky relationship with Alice - another toxic one - and it takes something extreme for him to break ties with her. His friendship with Katherine grows and I'm glad they were able to find one another and become strong friends. Mick is also another lovable character. He's the love interest for Katherine and he's pretty much an "A" in my book. The story between those two is so very bittersweet.

    I'll have to admit that I guessed Alice's intentions about half-way through the book. That didn't stop me from reading, though. Rachel's death was a little graphic and some of the scenes were hard to read, but I think they were necessary and it gives you a better feel of what Katherine witnessed and how it ended up

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  • Posted September 15, 2010

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    A great read!

    This book is a real eye opener. From the very first line, I was hooked and drawn into this dark world. This book is so messed up. I kept getting angry and upset reading this book. but of course, all of this in a good way. Reading this book made me see how ugly the world can be at times. That there are people out there that are cruel and cold and would do anything for their own game, using anyone and anything.

    This book is written perfectly. I was amazed over and over again reading all the things that happen to Katherine. I am amazed that after all that she went through, she is still a good person. I would imagine anyone else who went through that would just be bitter and angry, but not her. She made the best of what she had.

    I was glad that the end of the book was ended on a good note of hope and love. At first I thought it would end leaving me hanging, but if left me satisfied. Ms. James wrote a dark, angst, suspenseful book full of turns, emotions and a lot of unexpected surprises. This book is so good, I read it quickly. This book also contains cursing, sexual activities, and lots of backstabbing!

    If you want to read a dark, angst, book that can definitely happen in real life, read this. You will not be disappointed.

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  • Posted August 23, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyed the secrets unraveling

    I wouldn't say this was my favorite book of the summer. But I would say it was a good quick read. I did get captivated in the characters and wanted to know why Alice was such a lost soul wanting so much attention. Finding out the tragedy that Katherine went through did not need to take so long through the book. The story flips from the past to the future, but keeping you wanting to find out why the characters end up where they were. I liked the twist at the end to finally realize why Katherine in the beginning of the book did not go to Alice's funeral.

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  • Posted August 19, 2010

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    As originally posted on my blog Ticket to Anywhere

    Where to start...

    There were just so many things about Beautiful Malice that did not work for me. First lets start with the setting. For the most part the setting is unclear, ambiguous but then the main characters all go for this weekend holiday in a town located in New South Wales, Australia. I was like...yes...finally a clear setting and one that makes the language of the book make sense. Australians just have a slightly different way of speaking than Americans - the cadences of words are just different. But then when the gang meets up with Ben - the author makes a point to say that he was Australian and that one reason why Alice dated him was for his accent. That just baffled me as by this point I thought they were all Australian. Then a few pages later Ben is telling a story and mentions when he first came to the state....and I just went huh? It didn't make sense since the only place that was ever mentioned was a place location in Australia - and living stateside you don't exactly make a weekend trip to Australia....especially when you're trying to keep things on the cheap.

    Note: in talking with another blogger who read the Australian version of the book the setting was very clearly stated as Sydney, it seems that for whatever reason the American publisher decided to try and remove those references.

    But moving on...lets talk about sequence and the flow of time. This book has three distinct time periods in them and there is no real rhyme or reason to the authors jumping from one to another. The changes just became this jumbled mess for me which would knock me out of the story. I believe it was done as a way to try to heighten the suspense and make the thrills more thrilling as random bits and pieces of the past, present and future were revealed. But my suspense wasn't heightened the odd changes just annoyed me more than anything else. Especially during those times with the perspective of the book would change. For the bulk of the book the story was told in first person but every so often the I's would change to you's and it never really worked for me.

    Then there is the plot.

    The very first line tells you exactly what happens to Alice there is no suspense there. No shock. The story is just so flat and bland and I figured out what all the big reveals where before they were made official. The characters also all came across as flat and one dimensional. Alice was narcissistic and crazy and she appeared so form the start...she then just spirals out of control and it just doesn't ring true. Katherine is a girl trying to escape her past by forgetting it and when things get hard or rough she just turns her back on the darkness and tries to pretend it doesn't exist. This is not healthy behavior and not something that you want to do when the person you are trying to forget is crazy.

    This book didn't work for me on so many levels and its not one that I can recommend. Beautiful Malice is also a book that is often billed as Young Adult but I don't get the YA vibe from it when I read it. The phrasing and the way the characters speak (in their bad dialogue scenes) is way more adult than teen. What about you...have you read Beautiful Malice? What did you think of it? Let me know if the comments below.

    As originally posted on my blog Ticket to Anywhere

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  • Posted July 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not So Beautiful Novel

    The summary of this book sounded intriguing but did not live up to expectations. I found the main character annoying.There is a plot coincidence that just isn't credible. Fortunately, with the 20% discount and my BN card, I didn't waste too much money on it. There are better novels to spend your time with.

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  • Posted July 23, 2010

    Intense YA Novel

    As you turn the pages of Rebecca James debut novel, "Beautiful Malice", you find yourself in a web of unraveling secrets that pull you deeper into the thrilling psychological mystery that keeps you guessing 'til the end.

    Every girl dreams of being friends with someone like Alice Parrie. She's beautiful, fearless and exciting, everything Katherine Patterson misses about her old life. As Katherine lets go of the dark secrets of her past, she is consumed with the even darker secrets of Alice's. The harder Katherine tries to protect herself, the deeper into the trap she falls.

    An intense, electrifying story that doesn't fail to keep you on the edge of your seat.

    Reviewed by Suspense Magazine

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    Posted July 16, 2010

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    Posted July 12, 2010

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    Posted September 3, 2011

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