Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1)
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on January 25, 2013
I have just finished Sins and Needles and can not say enough how much I loved it! This was the first book by Karina that I ever read and I can't believe I left it so long to start. She is a brilliant author and I am so glad I read this book.

Sins and Needles has two main characters in it - Ellie Watt and Camden McQueen.

Ellie is a con artist by profession, learning all her tricks of the trade from her parents, she lives her life running from one grifting job to the next. She takes massive risks, scams people for all they are worth and nine times out of ten gets away with it, quite often by the skin of her teeth. Ellie is a brilliant character for me. She isn't a whingey, irritating girl who doesn't know what she wants. She knows exactly what she wants and goes right for it. Ellie may be a beauty but she isn't perfect - thanks to a horrific attack years ago, caused by her parents, she has been left with huge scars, not just on the outside, but internal ones too.

This book throws you right in to the action from the very beginning. The opening scene is Ellie fleeing from a man she has been trying to con. She finally realises that, at the age of 26, maybe it's time to quit the grifting world and move on to something more 'normal'. Whatever that may be. So with her new plans she decides to head home to Palm Valley, California. Her hope is that nobody recognises her and she can go back to being just plain old Ellie Watt - no more changing identities. What she hadn't planned on was running in to her sexy ex-best friend, Camden.

Camden McQueen is, for me, the epitome of gorgeous man. He is wonderfully tattooed, muscly in all the right places, beautiful inside and out AND he plays the guitar. Perfect, right? Nope.. just ask Ellie about his ears ;) (I really like that Karina gave both of her characters imperfections). Camden hasn't always been this way though, back in high school he was known as 'Camden the Queen' thanks to his gothic dress sense - wearing plenty of black clothing and make up, his peers were convinced he was gay and they weren't afraid to share their thoughts. Thankfully, time has been good to him and Ellie was more shocked than she thought possible when she ran in to him.

Camden and Ellie grew up together, they were the two freaks of the school, they had each other and for a long time that was enough for them. They were the best of friends.. that was until Ellie did the unthinkable and ruined their friendship in the worst of ways.

A lot happens in this book between Camden and Ellie, I won't say too much because it could be seen as a spoiler, but the two of them end up together, on the run from their pasts, trying to start afresh - new identities and all. They find themselves in a lot of, to put it bluntly, s*** situations and no matter how they got there, they always ended up and pulled through it together. As well as the raw and gritty scenes, we were treated to a softer side of them both - Ellie and Camden's 'day of fun' was one of my favourite parts of the book. It gave you an insight to how they were when they were younger, as well as giving you promise of a new relationship to form.

Thankfully, the story was told in both 'Then' and 'Now' parts, giving us, the reader a chance to see how Camden and Ellie's story started, what caused Ellie's pain and suffering, and how with the help of each other, they are able to move on from their pasts. The book did have a bit of a killer cliff hanger but I was okay with that knowing that there would be a sequel out in the not so distant future, as well as a prequel out even sooner.

I am so glad I started this series and am more than excited to see where it takes us. If you are looking for a story that doesn't have perfect characters, is very gritty and full of angst then I really couldn't recommend Sins and Needles enough.

5 huge stars.
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on December 22, 2013
Well, I can't say I wasn't warned.

On paper, this book has absolutely everything I should love: a grifter heroine (Hello, one of my favorite movies of all time); a tattooed, pierced, ex-nerd hero; broken pasts for both of them; and an author I've previously enjoyed a LOT via her Experiment in Terror series.

Unfortunately, all these fantastic things combine to create a book I wanted to love but simply couldn't.

The story here is told through jumps between present-day and the past. The tl;dr version is that Ellie, our heroine, is back in her old hometown hoping to go straight. She applies for exactly one job and is turned away before she meets our hero, Camden. She and Cam go way back to high school, having had a complicated relationship, and between the flashbacks and Ellie's near-instant decision to steal from him instead of continuing her job hunt, if you can't see the writing on the wall, you've probably never read a book before.

From there, the two team up in the most convoluted deal I've probably ever seen. And oh, BTW, they have sex.

What really depressed me about this book is that Halle has written characters with great chemistry before. These two? Have exactly none. It's all explained why they are together, might want to be together, etc. but you never really get a good feeling that they SHOULD be together. There's no chemistry, no reason to root for them, and the deus ex machina ways they get out of corners just frustrated the hell out of me.

By the end, I didn't care enough about either of the characters to want to know what happens next in this series. While the writing was good, the rest of it left me cold.

This review appeared previously on Goodreads.
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on January 25, 2013
"We all make our own path in life. Everyone we meet, everything we do, it changes us. It makes us who we are. And, if we're lucky, we're given the chance to make things right again."

I was SO EXCITED to start Sins & Needles!!! I was highly anticipating the release since I am such a huge fan of all her other works. I don't know how she does it, but the characters of her books are some of my favorite of all time, they feel so real to me. First with Dex & Perry of my absolute favorite series ever, Experiment in Terror, then Dawn & Sage of the The Devils Series, and now I can add Ellie & Camden to the ranks of best characters ever.

I won't go too deep into the plot, because the suspense of it is half the fun...:) But, Sins & Needles is a story told by Ellie. She is a con-artist bred from con-artists. She gets tired of running the same scams and after a close call, she heads back to her hometown to the only family member she's in contact with, her Uncle Jim. She's also running from someone in her past...

"Not many people had an ex that would probably shoot them in the head if they ever found them. And I meant that in the most literal sense."

Immediately upon returning, she runs into an old friend from high school, enter Camden McQueen. I LOVE HIM!

"Tattoos, sign-making, painting; Camden was the epitome of an artist - complete with the occasional mood swing as well."
....

"He was like a caring, hulking, nerd. And I wanted him."

There is a lot of history between the two and their relationship has been very turbulent. The story alternates between "then" and "now" to reveal more about Camden and Ellie, which is filled with some highs and some very low lows. They are both wounded by their pasts and have the emotional scars to prove it. Ellie also bears some very brutal physical scars as a reminder of a con gone bad as a child.

Then...
"If I believed in God, I'd say you should be proud of the way he made you. You're different, Ellie. Your scars, your injury, they make you who you are. Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way."

Now...
"You know how I feel about your scars. They only make you more beautiful."

As Camden and Ellie reconnect, sparks fly and there are some very HOT scenes! Thanks for those Karina! :)

"Holy s***, did Camden just spank me?"
....

"But, hell, if a neighbor were to stick their head out their window and see a tattooed god ramming a chick in the neighbor's backyard, all lit by romantic lights, they'd probably watch. I'd watch too."

It's not all roses for these two though, secrets are revealed. Feeling are hurt. Chaos ensues. It is one action packed ride that had me on the edge of my seat! Yup, that's all you get. You'll thank me later... ;)

Sins & Needles has something for everyone. Filled with romance, suspense, action, and more. It is full of passion and emotion and some of the most raw characters you'll ever see. Camden and Ellie embedded themselves into my heart. Every emotion they felt, I felt. The author does such a beautiful job of building the personalities of these fantastically flawed characters. They were so dynamic and shocked the hell out of me at times. I couldn't get enough of them! This book was seriously flawless. I enjoyed every single second of reading it. I cannot wait for prequel, On Every Street, and the next installment, Shooting Scars! I will be counting down the days until they are released!

A MUST READ! I highly, highly recommend!

"You're not bad, Ellie. The world is bad and you're just trying to survive in it."
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on March 18, 2013
I'm a wreck, why did I do this to myself? I knew there was a cliffhanger but I went ahead and read it anyway. I didn't see it coming, it threw me for a loop and now I am desperate for more.

Ellie was the perfect heroine, tough and smart but with so much baggage and sadness you feel for her. Raised by con artist parents and treated as an outcast when younger, she is now a con artist herself and looking for a way out. Not having many options left she gives it a go one more time and that is when the story really takes off. "This will be the last time." .

When Ellie runs into an old high school classmate Camden she thinks she found her way out. Straight off I fell for Camden, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into with him and wow was I wrong. He was so much more complicated than I ever expected; sweet and sexy one minute, full of hate and resentment the next. I loved him and hated him at the same time. He knew all the right things to say. He had such a way with words that despite his faults I was swooning big time.

"I'm just a tattoo artist. I'm just a guy who used to be in love with a girl. I'm just a fool who's been fooled too many times before. I'm just a man who's finally getting his revenge."

"I'm not letting you go on your own. We're in this together, until the ocean waves crash on our feet."

Both damaged, Ellie and Camden are trying to save each other from themselves, their pasts and the mafia. I loved watching their relationship unfold and having the ability to visit them in the past and present only made me connect that much more. Karina Halle did such a great job with character development that I even felt emotionally attached to Jose the car.

Extremely well written Sins & Needles has everything you will ever want; drama, love, intense sitting on the edge of your seat action, a kick ass con artist heroine, hot sex and a tattoo covered complicated man. I have found true love in the form of a good book. Highly recommended!
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on March 8, 2013
4.5 STARS!

What a great read. I picked up this book the day it was released on the recommendation of a few friends. I've never read a book from this author. I was impressed.

This is not your typical fluffy romance. It's rather dark and has a great mystery/ suspense to it. It's the story of con-artist Ellie Watt. She's lived a life of deceit, taught by the best- her parents. She's been used as an accessory to mastermind all kinds of hoaxes- and she's got the scars to prove it.

The book goes back and forth from then and now. Then, being the story of her tortured life leading up to now. She meets Camden McQueen in high school, the goth, scary, makeup-wearing misfit of the school. They bonded right away. She was her own misfit with a limp and scars to bring all the negative attention to her from mean, heartless kids. Fast forward 8 years, Ellie has been in more towns and has screwed over more people than she can count. She has a list of aliases and she's out of friends and money. She decides to go "home" where the only living relative she trusts is....Uncle Jim. While staying with him, she runs into Camden McQueen at a local coffee shop. Although they ended their friendship in high school on a bad note, she's drawn to all things hot, tattooed, pierced about him. He's a successful owner of a tattoo parlor and she begins her plan to rob him when he least expects it. She's drawn to him, wants to be his friend, but her unfailing desire to steal and cheat wins over......until he catches her in the act.

Camden has his own history.... His own scars and he needs Ellie's experience to help him disappear.....he gives her the option- jail, help him disappear, or be shot on the spot. Not much of a choice, huh? The journey begins. Camden has enemies after him. Ellie has enemies after her (mainly her ex boyfriend drug lord Javier whom she stole his money and car and disappeared).

I kind of skipped over the romance part of the book. It's apparent before the robbery and it drove me nuts that Ellie could have feelings for Cam, sleep with him, then rob him blind. I really did not like her. Over time, you realize she's just surviving in a world she's never gotten any breaks in. Cam realizes this too over time....I wouldn't put the romance end of this book on the forefront. I'd put their journey and the mystery of what's lurking in the shadows for them.

I really enjoyed the read. Doesn't have a lot of sexual scenes if that's your cuppa. But the suspense kept you sucked in.... Until the HOLY MOTHER OF CLIFFHANGERS. If you hate cliffhangers, I'd wait until April, when the next book comes out. The ending wasn't horrible but I cannot wait to find what the future holds for these two.......
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on January 25, 2013
"There was no fun in the truth."

I don't read a lot of strictly adult contemporary fiction, but when I found out Karina Halle was writing this book, I just knew I had to give it a shot. I am so thrilled that I did. I was completely blown away by Sins & Needles.

Sins & Needles is a dark and gritty romp through California tattoo shops and Vegas casinos. There are mobsters and drug lords, grifters and gambling. Ellie Watts begins this book on the run from a Ukranian mobster. She is a con artist - a self-proclaimed grifter, just as her parents were before her. She makes a living by conning people out of money and is constantly changing her name and appearance to stay one step ahead of those she is stealing from. Ellie has a dark past filled with selfish parents and an unfortunate accident that has not only scarred her physically for life, but mentally as well. She is attempting to run far enough away to begin her life over again, without the threat of her ex-boyfriend, Javier, finding her. Javier is tied into a drug cartel and Ellie ran off on him with his money and car.

"I've always been afraid of you, little Hellie. You've got something dark inside you, you always have. I don't want to be around when it comes out."

When Ellie returns to her quasi-hometown in California, she tries to go straight. She attempts to find a real job, but is thwarted when she runs into an old friend from high school. Camden had changed his appearance drastically since they were kids. Where in high school he was all goth and into black clothes and blacker make-up, now he's a charmingly sexy tattoo artist with a mighty fine body. While Ellie genuinely likes Camden, he is not free from her conniving ways. When Ellie plans to con Camden, things don't go as she planned, and the story progresses from there.

"I regret my actions but I can't regret the consequences. We all make our own path in life. Everyone we meet, everything we do, it changes us. It makes us who we are. And, if we're lucky, we're given the chance to make things right again."

First and foremost, I have to give tons of praise to the way Halle wrote this book. There was a lot of planning that went into this book. Many things that are mentioned in the beginning of this book have an affect on the outcome. It was like reading a Buffy episode where every bit of information you receive is important in some way, even if you don't understand why immediately. Halle weaves all of this information into an epic, on-the-run story that I couldn't get enough of.

Another part of the writing that I admired is the past/present way this book is presented. Halle takes a chance when she writes the present story in first person, but writes the past scenes in third person. I don't think I've ever read a book that is written like this. It sounds like it would be difficult to pull off, right? Halle pulls it off beautifully, using the past to explain the future. On top of all that, Halle has a beautiful way about her writing - the imagery and description were top notch, and her sense of humor shined through on several occassions.

The characters in this book are excellently drawn. There are no squeaky clean, innocent people in the world of Sins & Needles. Every character is a shade of gray. Ellie isn't a morally bankrupt person, yet she is a con artist. Ellie lost her innocence at a very young age and has been seeking vengeance ever since. Camden seems like a sweet tattoo artist, but he has secrets of his own and his own plans for "justification." Even the vilified Javier has his strong points - strong points I'd personally like to see a lot more of in the future. I'm convinced that Javier has secrets that I'm dying to discover! Let's face it - all three of these characters are varying degrees of crazy! There is only one purely innocent character in this book, and we don't even get to really meet him.

"Beautiful, sad, wounded and lost," he continued. "A freak, a work of art, a liar and a lover."

This book takes the reader on a fast-paced ride, in a car named Jose, through twists and turns that will leave you begging for more. Through the Californian desert to the bright lights of Sin City, this story will keep you turning the pages. I've found a new series that I would highly recommend to anyone.
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on March 25, 2013
My My MY Sins & Needles, I must say I read the stories backwards, I read On Every Street, first which was great; I love Ellie & Javier I was rooting for them, then Javier committed the ultimate no no; Then comes Sins and Needles and Camden my new hero, I was soooo rooting for him and Ellie, I was so disappointed in her uncle though, however sometimes the damage done can never be repaired no matter how much love is involved. Javier always promised Ellie that he would find her, what I would like know is how the hell he found out that she was really Ellie Watt and she was from Palm Valley CA? I can't wait to see what happens, will Sophia fight for her an Camden, or did she set him up again? Will Camden go after Ellie and leave his son and Sophia behind? Will Camden go to his Dad for his help? Did Javier really pay off Sophia's brothers and did they really off up her and Ben? Will Ellie come clean with Javier and tell him everything? Will Ellie escape and go on the run again? Will she run back to Camden? Does Javier really love Ellie or does he just want revenge, or is he taking her back to Travis? SO many questions, I CAN'T WAIT for the next book. Two thumbs up for Sins & Needles & On Every Street.
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on June 25, 2013
This was another book that I thought would be at least a little bit of a romance, but was more on the action/drama side.

Ellie and Camden know each other from high school. Ellie is back in town after running a scam on her last boyfriend. She runs into Camden who is now a stud instead of the nerd he once was in school. They reconnect and Ellie finds out she can use him in more ways than one. Camden on the other hand has all kinds of crap in his past to complicate things for Ellie.

I didn't seem to be able to connect with these characters or the story. After reading the whole book waiting for something to change or catch my interest, it just didn't. Maybe I am too far down the romance road to appreciate these action/drama type of books. Although Ellie and Camden are together, they seemed forced, not natural. This book just wasn't for me.
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on January 29, 2013
OMG! KARINAAaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!! how could you????
I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book simply because I am such a dedicated EIT fan. Have no fear! Karina did not disappoint! That's when I realized that not only am I an EIT fan, I am a Karina Halle fan! She is a fantastic lady and an amazing writer!

I can't wait for the next book to come out, because boy, did she leave us hanging. Usually I don't like cliff-hangers, ok usually, I detest cliff-hangers, but this one was good. Definately designed to keep us all waiting on the edge of our seat waiting for the next book.

Camden and Ellie are both flawed characters who you bond with, not instantly, but gradually. They both have some pretty deep issues and they are both trying their darnedest to overcome them. As a matter of fact, Ellie's whole family is flawed.

I can't say too much without giving something away, so I will stop here. TRUST me, this is a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Read it, you won't be sorry!
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on April 29, 2013
After reading the prequel, "On Every Street", I knew this one would be good and I was not disappointed. This book exceeded my expectations. We begin where Ellie is on the run and then trying to get a normal life put together. The trouble is, she just can't seem to shake her past. Early on she meets a one-time friend from high school, Camden, and oh, has he changed. The plot moves quickly with loads of twists and turns. Ellie's on the emotional ride of her young life and has to make a very difficult life, love or death decision in the end.

I am going to recommend this trilogy to all of my Kindle reader friends. I need to get the word out about a new fantastic series!

I can't wait for the next installment! What a cliffhanger!
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