Review: Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

13 March, 2013 Reviews 16 comments

Review: Sins & Needles by Karina HalleSins & Needles by Karina Halle
Series: The Artists Trilogy #1
Published by Forever, Self-Published on January 24th 2013
Pages: 437
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.

**WARNING** This book contains graphic language, sex and violence. Readers who are sensitive to sexual scenes, violence and a lot of cursing should refrain from reading this book.This is not YA or NA. 18 and above.

Before we even get this par-TAY started, I’m going to throw something out there: This was not a bad book. I’m saying this now because I know I’m about to be the black sheep when it comes to Sins & Needles. So before everyone in my Goodreads friends list comes out with their torches and pitch forks, guys, I can totally see why you all love this book.

Alright, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, strap in because I’m about to light it up. BTW, yeah, spoilers ’cause that’s how I roll.

Sins & Needles started off very strong for me. The main character, Ellie Watt, has a great presence and voice. She’s someone I’d even consider badass… at first. Obviously, her profession demands nothing less with her being a con artist and all. But for once in her life, Ellie feels like she’s had enough and goes home to Palm Valley. It’s there where Ellie must now face the ultimate human challenge: Getting a job. But just as her first and only attempt fails, in comes Camden McQueen. Ellie is instantly attracted to this tattooed stud-muffin, but doesn’t recognize him as the bullied goth from high school (and former best friend). Anyway, they hit it off and somehow end up on this wild Bonnie and Clyde type adventure.

Up until around 50%, I was feelin’ this book somethin’ serious. Like I said, Ellie has a great voice and the writing wasn’t bad either (even though I do think it was stronger in the first half). But somehow along the way I found myself caring less and less about finishing the book. Here are three reasons why my happy cat died along the way complete with pop culture references FTW (because obviously I was bored enough to soundtrack my review):


1. “Gypsy Woman, stay the hell away from me.”

Ellie is one special character. She makes a living from conning men out of money left and right. She meets them on internet dating sites (She fed me lies while she cast her spells…), pretends to be their girlfriend for months (Save me, she’s a liar… ) and then makes off with their cash (Gypsy woman robbed me of my best…). Your ability to love this novel is really going to be dependent on if you can relate to her situation and past. Or at the very least, sympathize with her. I thought I could. I mean, I tried really, really hard to. I liked the idea of a con artist trying to go legit and finding love along the way. It’s just the way Ellie went about it that bothered me.

So check it, Ellie goes back home and tries to get a job at ONE LOCATION, fails, sees Camden McMoneyPants walk in, and says, “Fuck it. I’ll just rob him.” (Trifling friend, indeed.

 photo GoldDigger_zps162ee453.gif

 Actually, I kinda am…

I know, I know. It’s all she knows and she’s used to just taking from everyone else, but that is no excuse to me. And honestly, I think Ellie was just being lazy and I can’t stand lazy people. I wanted to shake her and make her get off her ass and get a job. But no, instead she tries to rob Camden because obviously that’s way easier and more logical.

But wait! Ellie is JUSTIFIED because the world has wronged her. I get that Ellie was a flawed character with a lot of issues, but hasn’t anyone ever told her life isn’t fair? *this is me playing the world’s smallest violin* I understand that Halle was trying to show the other side of the coin where a person doesn’t make the right decisions. My issue is that I couldn’t understand WHY she was making them.


2. “I always put myself in destructive situations.”


If you had a tragic accident due to a career choice made by your parents, what would you do?

A. Choose a different career when you grew up.
B. Choose the same career path of your parents because of… reasons.

Guess what Ellie chooses? That’s right, B! Makes complete sense, right? (I’ve got that lefty curse… Where everything I do is flipped… And awkwardly reversed) But it gets better because this is Ellie-fucking-Watt we’re talking about.

So Ellie’s parents tried to con a drug lord and she ends up paying the price by getting acid poured all over her leg. I’m not sure I would go back to the same drug lord with the intention of conning him alone, because, ahem, he’s a DRUG LORD. But she finds love in one of the drug lord’s right hand men, Javier. Surprise: it doesn’t work out and she steals his money and car. Look at your life, Ellie. Look at your choices! The girl is addicted to Making Bad Decisions. Intervention, I say!

 photo Rehab_zps6e9cb751.gif

I see…

You would think after that huge fail she would quit while she was ahead, but nooooo. She goes on to con more and more men, leaving a trail of bread crumbs until eventually her past catches up to her.

Now, there are two really big bones I gotta pick with Ellie here. First, why does she never throw away her cell phone? What kind of con artist keeps the same phone from con to con? A shitty one. (Somebody get my phone… So I can throw it in a public pool and watch it float…) Second, how did Javier continue finding her? Her cell phone is my obvious guess, but it was clear the cell phone was not even thought of in this case and Javier seemed to locate her a little too well. All the reader is given is some one liner from Mr. Creep, saying he’d always find her. Sheesh, I can’t believe she thought that was romantic at some point. And yet, she never fully takes responsibility for her actions. (I don’t look innocent with this big, big mess on…)


3. “I want your love and I want your revenge…”

I really don’t think novels with dysfunctional relationships are for me. I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you don’t have your own shit together, perhaps you should not get involved with someone else’s. This might have something to do with how well I understand them, which is virtually nil. My only exposure to them is Fifty Shades of Grey and a page of Beautiful Disaster. I’m sure we all can agree that those characters need to sit down with someone and get some well-needed advice.

 photo fallinlove_zpsd321f4a5.gif

No, not you, Tay-Tay. *skip track*

Ellie’s uncle warns her about getting involved with Camden and urges her to focus on getting on her feet. That makes sense considering it was her entire point of returning home and begging for a place to stay. But right after Camden discovers Ellie’s plan and double crosses her, they go on the run together. Ellie’s off in her corner of the hotel hating Camden and Camden is off is his corner hating Ellie and secretly thinking of raping her so that he can humiliate her just as she humiliated him in high school. (I want your drama… The touch of your hand…) Wait, what? I’m raging right about now. Are you telling me this Grown Ass Man is still angry about something that happened YEARS AGO in high school? But wait, he also loves her. Does your head hurt? Great. Here’s an ice pack.

But that’s not even the half of it. Ellie in turn resents Camden because she got caught trying to rob him. She keeps saying things like, “How could he do that to me?” And I’m like, WTF, dude. You broke and entered his house and tried to steal his money. Also, she loves him and he’s howt and she can’t stop staring at his abs because, yeah, there goes his shirt… again. (I want your leather-studded kiss in the sand…)

So somewhere along the lines they stop hating each other so much because, due to Ellie’s stupidity, a character dies. Then she’s all, “loosen up my buttons, baby,” sexy time on a car and declarations of love. (Love-love-love I want your love)

“I hate you, Ellie Watt,” he whispered, lips coming closer to mine, “because I still love you after all these years.”

So all the while I’m having this internal “discussion”, if you will, with Ellie. I’m grilling her about this “love” that she has with Camden.

“What is your deal?!” I scream at her, grabbing her shoulders.

(It’s the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny…)

“Oh, really? You love him, huh? And where did you find this love? I bet it was In A Hopeless Place.”

(But I’ve gotta let it go…)

 photo Wefoundloveinahopelessplace_zpsaff9d166.gif

That’s a yes, isn’t it?

I might not be an expert on love and relationships, but their… whatever-you-wanna-call-it… doesn’t make sense to me. But I get it. Sometimes you can’t decide who you love or whatnot. However, seeking revenge on someone you claim you’ve been in love with for years? Does not compute. This is probably an indication of where my personal beliefs just got in the way of sympathizing with the two characters. I couldn’t suspend logic long enough to simply go with it.


So, yeah. Not my kind of book. I couldn’t relate to the story, the characters and their subsequent decisions despite the strong start. Clearly, I am in the minority with not loving Sins & Needles, so feel free to tell me to kick rocks, blow bubbles, throw stones and STFU.

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

16 Responses to “Review: Sins & Needles by Karina Halle”

  1. Kenya Wright

    Well. . . lol. Feel free to not hold back. 😛
    I do agree this book wasn’t for everyone. I loved it but my friend hated it. I do tend to love books that are either love or hate them books versus the sissy non-pushing the limits books. Great review. . .(even though you’re wrong and I’m right).

    :-p Love you as always Steph!

  2. jaimearkin

    I agreeeeee!! I seem to also be in the minority, but I didn’t get them and their ‘love’ at all. I was frustrated reading this because the dude held this grudge against her for years and he screwed her hoping to get close and hoping she would screw up and he would catch her and then he blackmails her but by the end of this book none of that mattered because they were in love…. *cue raised eyebrow* 
    So… I totally feel you and as always I adore your reviews… even when I don’t agree they always entertain! 

  3. tonyaleeh

    LOL Love your review! I did love this one (not as much as others, mind you)  Ellie was hard to like and stomach at times.. And I agree that Camden’s “grudge” was weird and childish.

    • Kenya Wright

      tonyaleeh Yeah I’m with you Tonya. Ellie was hard to like at times. I do think that’s why I loved it though because after a while I ended up getting her. lol.

  4. cynicalsapphire

    LOL. Kanye gif! APPROPRIATE.
    To be fair, while A is the more logical choice, a lot of people do fall into what their parents did, even if they judged it growing up. Abused children are more likely to end up being abusive themselves. Generally, children of parents with problems either follow in that path or go completely the opposite way. This is actually one of the things I liked. Her childhood basically inculcated her in this lifestyle and she can’t figure out how to get out, even though she wants too. At the same time, I thought her attempt at getting a real job was incredibly pathetic.
    Wow, I hate everything about that Taylor Swift gif. Bleh. Camden does need to get over it. I mean, I got that he was pissed when she tried to rob him, but being all sad because she ignored him in high school? I wouldn’t be thrilled but he was more pissed about that than the robbery. That’s absurd. He of all people should know how hard high school is and have some understanding.

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      cynicalsapphire I agree with what you’re saying, but her reason for *choosing* that path did not seem clear especially since I felt her anger was displaced. She blamed the world for for messed up childhood when it was really their poor decisions that cause her strife. I’m just struggling to understand how she could have thought she could pull off robbing drug lords and getting away with it after what happened to her all those years ago.

      Camden: The scene where he contemplated raping her angers me. Dude has some serious issues if he feels a school yard incident needed to be carried over that far. And you’re right, he was more angry about that than the robbery! I didn’t even think of that, but you’re right.

  5. tripsis

    Even though I enjoyed the book a bit more than you did, I COMPLETELY understand where you’re coming from.  I thought Ellie’s lack of sense and logic was frustrating at times.  She was supposedly a pro grifter, but to be honest, she sucked.  We never saw her actually own at it.  In fact, she gets caught at least twice in the book and made simple mistakes like keeping her same name and her cell phone.  I’m not even a grifter and I know enough to change that shit!

    And I also thought it was a bit ridiculous how she couldn’t NOT con people.  And what you said about her parents and following their path totally makes sense too.  I hate it when people complain about having a bad childhood or whatever, and then fall into that EXACT. SAME. PATTERN.  What the hell?

    Yeah, at the end of the day, I did enjoy the book, but I completely get why you didn’t!  All those issues you mentioned totally make sense.

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      tripsis Yup, I would have liked to see more of this pro status. But it was just “She’s the shit people. Believe it.” And that didn’t work out well for me. 
      I suppose she was supposed to be addicted to grifting? I don’t really understand it to be honest.

  6. tkhalliday

    Best. Review. Ever. I had just purchased this, too! Now when I read it, I have no doubt I will be singing along to your playlist for it. lol

  7. kadburytweets

    I LOVE THIS REVIEW!! Even though I didn’t get a few pop culture references 😛 Need to listen to these songs ASAP .
    Great review Steph

  8. Neyra

    *dies of funny* 
    ive seen the raves of this book, how is so good it’s a must read, and honestly as much as it sounds intriguing i just don’t even want to pick book up. now thanks to your review,  i never will. see what you’ve done Steph?! >.< Lol as much i loved damaged and characters, i she with you, when a character keeps making the same stupid mistakes over and over, i can’t sympathize either, if they’re unwilling to move forward despite their past, they are not worthy if my reading time.. sounds like a headache waiting to happen, and I’ve just come off my reading slump to drag myself back up it because of some ridiculous characters. love review girly 🙂

  9. Ames1

    Although I enjoyed this book, I agree with all the things that you mentioned in your review.  I didn’t care much for the choices Ellie made… a lot of them were quite dumb (ex: giving that shifty-looking-guy-at-a-bar money), especially for a person that is suppose to be a professional con artist.  Why Ellie would want to steal from Camden after screwing him over in high school still kind of boggles my mind.  Besides not throwing away her cell, I kept wondering throughout the book why she won’t get rid of Javier’s car.
    Great review, Steph!

  10. carow

    It wasn’t nearly as awesome as the hype claimed it to be… DAMN HYPE *shakes fist* I found their relationship really confusing also…

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