Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

Beautiful Malice

Katherine has moved away from her shattered family to start afresh in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic, party-loving Alice, who brings her out of her shell. But there is a dark side to Alice, something seductive yet threatening. And as Katherine learns the truth about Alice, their tangled destinies spiral to an explosive and devastating finale. 


If anything, this is not a lighthearted read. It is 1 cup of darkness, 2 cups of psychological thriller and 1 cup of twisted - which makes up to a 4 star Beautiful Malice.

Katherine moved away from home to live with Aunt Vivien, changing her name from the original Katie Boydell in order to escape the tragic history that broke her family apart. She is constantly consumed by grief, guilt, regret and self-blame. She closes herself up and becomes a quiet girl in the new school, until she meets Alice. Wild, fun and charming, Alice quickly becomes Katherine's best friend. But underneath her seductive charm, there seems to be another side to Alice, which makes her unbelievably cruel and uncaring towards others. Katherine dismisses these as bad hair days, but she slowly realizes that Alice is not who she thinks is.

Katherine is someone we can sympathize with - she is not without blame, for it was she who indirectly caused the tragedy. But we cannot exactly put the blame on her because it was not her doing in the first place. She merely did what a normal person would do - running away, although it was a cowardly thing to do. But even if she didn't, it wouldn't have changed much.

Alice is one really messed up character. She is someone devoid of love, she is cruel and plays others' around her fingertips. A real psycho, if you ask me. But again it's not entirely her fault she's like this. Rebecca James is a master at creating characters that we hate but sympathize with at the same time, it seems. 

Beautiful Malice is pretty good for a debut novel, and fans of Shift would find this book interesting.

RATING: 4.000 

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.


I haven't had the chance to watch the movie, but I really want to now that I've finally read the book. It was funny, touching, witty and most importantly - it is full of love and sincere friendship. 

I am ashamed for myself when I see these people treating sickness so openly, when pity weighs me down every time I talk to someone who is sick or has a disability. In fact, what they want is just you look straight into their eyes and talk to them like a normal person, sometimes even joke about the sickness.

I particularly love how John Green managed to deliver so many messages behind this book while not being preachy or quote-ridden. It just feels like a fresh breath of air, one that brings the sweet scent of flowers even though it's invisible.

The relationship between Hazel and Gus is very touching and deep, and by some greater sense they can be considered as soulmates, two people who love each other so much that the pain that comes with loving becomes part and parcel of it. Even if you can be given the choice to cut the other person out of your heart, you will still choose to love despite the pain.

This is a book that will stay in my bookshelf for a very long time, if not forever.


Hazel Grace: “I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?”  ----- This line is the saddest thing I've ever heard.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore


Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

Graceling is actually the first book in the series, but I read it second since Catching Fire was the prequel, so I felt that it would be better if I read the story in sequence. 

In the seven realms, some children were born Graced, meaning they had a special talent or gift. In certain places, children who were born Graced had to be surrendered to the King for their use, unless the King finds their abilities useless and send them home. Katsa was blessed (or cursed, if you see it the other way round) with the Grace of Killing. This Grace makes others wary and fearful of her, and her training since young had made her an unbeatable fighter, but she is usually tasked to run dirty errands for King Randa.

As with Catching Fire, this book is wonderful, and I find myself unable to pull back from the siren song that was the book itself, reading into the wee hours of the night. I loved Katsa's character, her indomitable spirit and her Grace (which turns out to be something else altogether). As for Po, I would really love to see his silver and gold eyes! 

This story starts off with the kidnapping of Prince Po's grandfather, and eventually more mysteries rise up the dark gloomy apparition of a placid lake that was the kingdom of Monsea. Turns out the King of Monsea was named Leck, and though people praised his kindness and generosity, Katsa and Po were doubtful.

SPOILER! I think that Po's attempt to assassinate King Leck was real stupid, and I still wonder now why they are foolish enough to try it (alone!) They should have read Sun Tze's Art of War before even considering this kamikaze. I knew they were going to fail. I mean, what are two Graced fighters chances against one King whose Grace is powerful enough to keep the whole nation entranced, more so when he is constantly surrounded by Graced bodyguards? Stupid move, I would say. But that doesn't diminish the fun of reading it.

Leck made a few appearances in Catching Fire, and I must say that it was him and his unbelievably cruel, twisted character at the very beginning of the novel piqued my interest and kept me reading throughout. I won't reveal more, you just read and find out what happens. ;)


Warning: Contains a non-graphic sex scene. Parental guidance recommended for children under-15.

Fire by Kristin Cashore


Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)

Fire (Graceling Realm #2) by 

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there's more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren't afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

I had had the honour to read an ARC of this book. And I thought that the story was great - it holds more complexities than a normal novel would contain, and I enjoy discovering the lies and truths that were kept secret at first. 

Fire was described as a monster with fiery red hair with streaks of pink and gold, her beauty made people swoon and some to open their minds up to her. She had the ability of penetrating one's deepest thoughts, and control minds of most persons. Although of monster descent, she did not inherit her late father Cansrel's wickedness, brutality and viciousness. But she had to make certain hard choices that made her doubt herself and her identity. 

The story-line was interesting enough, though at 400+ pages I would say that it may have contained many unwanted plot branches that may as well be trimmed off. The characters in this book seem to have free sex every now and then, with sex between childhood friends, child born by rape, men who fathered illegitimate children, or friends who find themselves impregnated by the same man. But surprisingly enough, none of these people harboured any hatred towards one another despite their complex relationship which would have made best friends rip each other apart. They were very open to the notion of having bastard heirs/sons/daughters/grandchildren and even quite receiving towards them.

Apart from the way Kristin Cashore writes of relationships, which basically can be summed up with one word: messy (not the writing, but the idea it portrays), this book is filled with many wonders, and I find myself wishing to really see the monsters in their full glory, especially Fire herself, and perhaps the raptors.