Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Sins & Needles By Karina Halle

Title: Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense

Goodreads rating: 4.48 out of 5.00 (700+ ratings)
Goodreads link

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.

Review by Chantelle

Whether it is PG13 Young Adult or mature Adult, when it comes to horror, suspense and all things bump in the night, Karina Halle is the dark master who knows all the right strings to pull. 

Sins & Needles is set in the high stakes world of con artists, lovers and the Mafia - where motives are fuelled by revenge, grudges and obsession. Ellie Watt's past and present start to collide when she returns home to Palm Valley, California with intentions of quitting the grifting business when she meets the childhood friend she had wronged, Camden McQueen. But having angered so many people, can she really start over? Her journey for redemption is full of violence, mistrust, fugitives, car chases, and casinos; so basically it's epic.

Halle has written a book so addictive, so dark, so vivid and passionate that this is a must read for more mature readers. Her knowledge in screen-writing (she has a degree at Vancouver Film School as well as a Bachelor in Journalism, wowee) is plaining evident in her ability to create engaging settings and situations, and knowing just when to ratchet up the suspense. Sins & Needles could easily be made into a nail-biting Hollywood movie, but there's something talented and special about being able to experience such blockbuster moments through the pages of a book. 

Despite all the action, this book deals above all, with the idea of justification. Through alternating narratives from Ellie Watt's past as "that girl" to the tortured but independent spirit of present, Halle constructs a powerful argument about the devastating effects of revenge, and whether it can ever be justified. It explores the question, are bad people born or made... Can wrong, or evil choices be justified by the world we live in, by our circumstances or can people be inherently and irrevocably bad. 

Click me to read spoilers

Ellie Watt's revenge was all consuming, she lost her sense of self both figuratively and literally (Eden White) because of it.

Here are some of my favourite quotes:

“If I believed in a 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.”

Yet the girl could.

(This quote personally reminded me of how subjective pain is, and how we should never underestimate how someone else is feeling based on our own experiences. Pain is pain, and the pain of others doesn't just go away just because you say it should. This year, actively try and make the world a better place for someone you love. #DFTBA)


"You’re a con artist. A liar. A thief. An unredeemable soul. You can’t be reformed. You can’t be saved. You’ll die trying to make the world pay for what it did to you. And you’ll die alone.”


"You think because of your leg and your scars that gives you a right to punish people? Rob people? Cheat, scam, and steal? You think you can use that to justify what you do for a living?”


...the bum was justified in his actions because he was homeless and poor. He was allowed to beg for money because the circumstances made it acceptable. Society had shunned him and he was owed that much.


“You tried to rob me, Ellie. I’m allowed to be mean. I have the right to.”


“You didn’t try.” His eyes snapped to mine, taking me by surprise. “You wanted the easy way out. Don’t you know by now that there is no easy way out?”


The fear, it was too much. It was a hand in my stomach reaching for my lungs and squeezing them.


There’s a motive and it isn’t lust. It isn’t lust. It’s revenge.
Revenge never felt so good.

"Damn desert living. Everything turns to dust after a while."

Overall: 7/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5