Friday, May 24, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Sins & Needles and On Every Street by Karina Halle

Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1) by Karina Halle
Published January 25th 2013 by Metal Blonde Books
About the book
Ellie Watt is used to starting over. The daughter of a grifting team, Ellie spent her childhood being used as a pawn in her parents' latest scam. Now she’s much older, wiser and ready to give her con artist life a rest. But returning to the dry desert town of Palm Valley, California means one more temptation than she bargained for – Camden McQueen. Once known as the high school weirdo, Camden is bigger and badder than the boy he used to be and a talented tattoo artist with his own thriving business. Ellie’s counting on Camden still being in love with her but what she’s not counting on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time. When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerous road.
Rachel's Thoughts
To be honest I was really hesitant about picking up this book, because I don’t usually like con stories. I hate people trying to cheat others out of their hard earned money, and take things the easy way. There are of course exceptions to this for me:

*The reason for the con is to defraud a defrauder, someone who “deserves” it in some way.

*The con is to serve up some much deserved revenge.

I guess I’m not a turn-the-other-cheek sort of girl, well in fiction anyways. If someone’s got it coming I relish the payback! ! Much of Ellie’s conning (in the past) fell under one of those categories, so I could excuse it. But that’s not to say I liked Ellie much at first.For a good 45% of the book I couldn’t stand Ellie, which brings me to another book-hang up of mine:

*If I don’t like the main character, I rarely enjoy the book. 

This story was an exception to both hang-ups. I was thoroughly hooked from the beginning and even though I wanted to choke some sense into Ellie, she slowly began to grow on me. After making some truly crappy decisions, she started to change a little and it was enough for me to start to like her. Plus, there were flashes back into time that gave clarity to Ellie and Camden’s actions, which helped with the whole liking part. Not going to say that I liked what Ellie did in the beginning. After saying she’s quitting the con lifestyle, BAM, she’s back to planning one and on someone she’s already hurt so much! *bangs head*

Now let’s get to Camden. What to make of him? He was a mass of contradictions, but boy did I love him! He’s such a tortured soul with a darkness in him. Not going to lie, he scares me a little bit. You know those kids who are bullied so much in school they eventually break and do the unthinkable? Well my friends, that’s Camden. And even though he’s now a gorgeous and desired HOT tattoo artist, those scars are far from healed. What makes you cringe even more is that Ellie is number one or two in the line of people who’s inflicted those scars. She broke his heart and betrayed him when he needed her the most.

Now these two meet again after so many years apart and their attraction and chemistry is OFF THE CHARTS! Unrequited love and such a bittersweet history makes this romance one that keeps you on the edge of your seat! Here’s a delicious quote to tempt you:

Then I felt his presence behind me and his arms slowly, softly, slid down on top of mine. He pressed himself to my back, not too tight, and put his lips just behind my ear. My eyes widened and I nearly let go of the club. “I know what I know of you,” he whispered in my ear, his breath hot. “And I want to know more.”

The trouble that surrounds these two has you biting your nails wondering what’s going to happen next. I was a bundle of nerves reading this! I will say Karina Halle has created some captivating characters. Javier, a baddie from the past is very charismatic and extremely obsessive! *shivers*

Even with my initial reservations I ended up loving this story! Just the right mix of intense emotions: Love, hate, anger and sadness. Karina Halle has a new fan. I’m on pins and needles waiting for the next book because this ends on a cliffhanger (another book hang-up!!)!! (view spoiler) I’m buckling my seatbelt for the bumpy ride I’m inevitably in for.
4.5 Suns
Arlene's Thoughts
“I’m afraid,” Camden whispered.
“Why?” I whispered back, wiping away the tears...
“I can’t ever lose what I just felt.” He kissed my cheek. “I’m afraid if I did, I’d come looking for you too…”

Wow! Just have to say, I’m going to have to hold Camden to that. What an ending!! Need book two NOW!!

I must have missed all of the buzz when this book first started making waves, so I have to thank my reading buddy Rachel for recommending Sins & Needles to me. I should have been leery though because we tend to recommend all sorts of crazy, bizarre and epic cliffy type reads to each other. Her more than me, but she’ll probably say different… I’m sure. ;) Well I’m glad I gave this novel a try because it entertained and captivated me from the very beginning and when it was over, I sat there craving the next book immensley. Enjoyed it much!

Sins & Needles introduces us to Ellie Watts who is a modern day grifter. She’s been honing her skills since she was thirteen when her parents taught her the fine art of conning and petty theft. When she heads home to Palm Valley after six years of being gone, one of the first people she runs into is her once high school friend Camden McQueen. They didn’t quite part ways on the best of terms, but Camden shows no signs of holding a grudge. That is until… Ellie tries to scam him. When Ellie attempts her heist, she realizes she crossed paths with an old grudge and a messy situation ensues.

First off, let me state for the record that I was very skeptical of Camden from the start. After hearing his and Ellie’s backstory and how she betrayed him, there was no way that I would believe he completely let got of the past. Couple that with the momentary cagey looks that would quickly pass his features at times, I was definitely on high alert where Camden was concerned. I didn’t fall for this tatted hot mess for most of the book, but like most readers… yes I fell for him towards the end and I can’t wait to see his wrath explode in book two.

Where Ellie is concerned, I can see why some people would find it tough to love this crazy chick. I think Camden describes her perfectly when he says she’s a complex blend of rough, sweet and sad… I’d have to add a touch of edgey and a bucket of wounded to the mix and that’s exactly why she won me over. Her noisy brain and seedy past that molded her into what she became made me develop a ton of sentiment for Ellie. I was right there on the sidelines rooting her on and hoping she’d get away with every crime she committed... yes I surely did. I wanted her to get away with conning Camden. Her reckless balanced with her premeditated moves made it fun hanging out with this loose cannon.

You’re not bad Ellie. The world is bad and you’re just trying to survive in it. ~Camden
There were several other elements to the story that I enjoyed as well, espeically around the tattoos that Ellie and Camden sported. The symbolism of their marks and the work of art Camden made of Ellie’s scars both impressed and captivated me.

Karina Halle did a great job of blending Ellie and Camden’s backstory into the novel by swithicng perspectives at precise moment in the storyline. It was interesting to see how their past shaped their present. Where there were moments of skepticism when it came to their growing romance, there was never a lack of chemistry between these two. By the end of the story, I was left convinced that they belonged together. It took some effort falling for Camden, but by the end he definitley won me over.

I can’t wait to see how their story transpires in Shooting Scars. I hope we see no limit to Camden’s fury and more importatnly, I trust Ellie hasn’t shown the last of her cunning ways. She’ll need them now more than ever in my opinion. I’m also looking forward to learning more about Javier because I hear there’s an entire team out there rooting for him and I can’t wait to find out why. Fun, exciting and gripping novel that I will surely continue.
4.5 Suns
On Every Street (The Artists Trilogy 0.5) by Karina Halle
Published March 9th 2013 by Metal Blonde Books
About the book
When young con artist Ellie Watt decides to call herself Eden White and go after the drug lord who ruined her as a child, she never expects to fall for one of his henchmen. But Javier Bernal is no ordinary man. Subtly dangerous and overwhelmingly seductive, Eden finds herself passionately in love with Javier, the very person she's set-up to betray. With her body and heart in a heated battle against her deep need for revenge, no one will walk away from this con a winner.
Rachel's Thoughts
I really wish I would have read On Every Street before Sins & Needles. I would’ve felt much more sympathetic to Ellie, and wouldn't have disliked her for half of the book. We get insight into Ellie’s past and now I understand some of her motivations in Sins & Needles.

Ellie originally sets out for revenge against the man that ruined the life she should’ve led, Travis. A big baddie in Biloxi that her parents tangled with and lost and Ellie paid the price. She plans on getting close to one of his men and then exacting her revenge. Trouble is she didn’t count on falling in love with Javier, the man she targeted. He is dark, dangerous, and has chemistry in spades! She can’t take her eyes off him when she first sees him, wrapped up in his magnetism. Ellie falls HARD and Javier treats her like a queen, but bits of his life come through once and a while that makes her heart race with anxiety. But he’s the kind of male that wants to own Ellie heart and soul and she’s ready to give up on all her past goals to be with him:

”You are all mine, even if you run. I will find you because a soul needs its other half to truly live.
Revenge doesn’t matter when you have another passion to consume you.

This is the perfect lead into Sins & Needles and I found myself skimming through that book after I finished with this, especially the parts with Javier. I still have so many questions about his motivations and I have a few theories I’m anxious to discuss. Now I’m even more eager to pick up Shooting Scars. May 13th can’t come soon enough!
5 Suns
Arlene's Thoughts
Any love that starts under a lie is bound to kill you.
This book definitely cemented by fandom for The Artists Trilogy. What an explosion of epic proportions!! On Every Street is the novel/prequel to Sins & Needles, and where some might feel that it’s best to read this novel first, I say HELL NOOOO because then Camden won’t ever stand a chance in this trilogy! :D Javier commanded the stage and I’ve officially picked a team… starts with a J in case you’re wondering. ☺

In this installment, we meet Ellie at the beginning of her journey toward vengeance. She leaves Palm Desert and spends some time perfecting her craft as a con, where her ultimate goal is to seduce one of Travis Raines’s associates in the hopes of coming within striking distance of this man that scarred her for life.

When she meets Javier Bernal, a dangerous game of seduction ensues landing these two lovers in a web of lies, deceit and passion so strong that the only outcome is bound to be destruction.

“You know,” he began, voice low and full, “if you were to ever leave me, I’d come looking for you, on every street.”
Javier blasted the scene with such a force that I was held captive by this dark and alluring character. I loved his dangerous and seductive side as much as I did his tender moments that were filled with passion and hints of insecurity. He made no mistake in claiming Ellie as his. She somewhat became his addiction, but that didn’t stop him from destroying what they had with his irreparable act of betrayal. I’m still trying to figure out why he did what he did, but I can’t deny the fact that I still find him alluring.

It was clear that Ellie was in over her head when she came face to face with Javier. The relationship they developed somewhat put her demons to rest for a while. There were moments where I felt she had somewhat resolved her internal struggle, but I never deluded myself in believing it was buried forever.

The pain she experienced from Javier’s betrayal was both emotional and harsh. I was moved by this broken character that tried to sift through the wreckage and salvage some small pieces of herself.

Now more that before, I can’t wait to dive into the next installment. There are three powerhouses, called Storm Ellie, Hurricane Javier and Defcon Camden that are sure to explode the scene with equal desires for vengeance and redemption. Bring it on!!
5 Suns

Be sure to check out our casting board on Pintrest for Ellie, Camden and Javier!
We (Rachel and Arlene) are spreading our love for The Artists Trilogy by giving away an eCopy of On Every Street AND Sins & Needles to TWO lucky Waves followers. Simply fill out the rafflecopter and share a thoughtful comment on the giveaway or series. Good luck!

This giveaway is open to entrants that can receive an eCopy from either US Amazon or US Barnes & Noble.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I borrowed the first book and loved it. It's one I would definitely re-read so I would love to own it.


    1. I totally agree, Kelsey, this is definitely worth a re-read, which is exactly what I'm going to do before Shooting Scars. :)

  2. Trying to find something meaningful to say other than, "Pick me please! I really would love to win this," and not sound too excited is really difficult. Especially since I haven't read a bad review about these books yet.

    1. No need to stifle the excitement, Chanpreet! Arlene and I were totally obsessed while reading this series, so we totally get the excitement. That's how we feel about the next book in the series: Shooting Scars!! Immediately if not sooner, please! :)

  3. Love your thoughts on the book. Look forward to reading. Thank you for the giveaway.

  4. I have really wanted to read this! Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  5. These sounds great! Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. I have wanted to read these.... so this is an awesome giveaway!!!! Thank you for the chance to enter....

  7. This series keeps catching my eye. Would love to read it.

    bookaholicholly at gmail dot com

  8. I've heard great things about thus series...definitely looking forward to reading them-thanks for the great giveaway.

  9. I'm so glad you ladies loved these books. Karina Halle is extremely talented and is about to take the world by storm once her books are official published by Grand Central Publishing. if you liked her style of writing, you should read her Experiment in Terror series. The romance in that series is top notch. It's my favorite series ever! And Shooting Scars (The Artists Trilogy 3) is fantastic and will be out in August 2013.

    1. Megan, if you already read Shooting Scars, I'm seriously green with envy!! Lol! I'm so happy to hear about Karina's publishing deal. She totally deserves it, this series is ADDICTIVE!

      I just downloaded the first book in the Experiment in Terror series, it was FREE on Amazon! How can you go wrong with that? I'm excited to start reading it. :)

  10. This series sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

  11. This sounds like a great series! Keep hearing great things about it! Thanks!

  12. First off...I am in LOVE with the cover of SINS&NEEDLES!!! Beautiful! Plus I like her tattoo!!!

    Ellie sounds like a really strong female character which I like a lot and Camden sounds like he is the twist of the once she meets him again everything she had planned goes downhill or something.

    Like you I am not a huge fan of "con" books, but SINS&NEEDLES sounds like a great and exciting read that I look forward to reading!

    Thanks for the great giveaway[I hope win, crosses fingers]and thanks so much for a wonderful and detailed review!I really enjoyed the whole post!!

    Good luck to everyone!!!

    My email: mrsjtucker2012[at]gmail[dot]com

    1. I love that cover too, Jovon! Very original, IMO. The tattoo actually plays a part in the story and I love it when the cover actually relates to what's inside. Thanks and good luck with the contest! :)

  13. I loved how the book portrayed the lifestyles of con artists and how the story would flashback to when they were younger. It's interesting to see how certain events shaped their lives and changed their relationship. Damaris dsr002(at)gmail(dot)com

  14. This looks so great! Thanks for sharing with us! I adore that cover as well.
    Books like this make me wonder whether the author had any influence from friends and family while writing it.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    mestith at gmail dot com