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BOOK REVIEW – Bold Tricks (The Artists Trilogy #3) by Karina Halle

BOOK REVIEW – Bold Tricks (The Artists Trilogy #3) by Karina HalleBold Tricks (The Artists Trilogy #3)
by Karina Halle
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Raised by con artists, Ellie Watt has a lot of crazy childhood memories-but none crazier than being scarred with acid by the demented crime boss Travis Raines. Now Ellie is a full-grown woman who lives for revenge, and Travis is a full-blown drug lord who kills for pleasure. The sadistic bastard has kidnapped her good friend Gus as well as her mother, whom he's been holding as prized possessions in his heavily guarded lair. And Ellie has only one chance in hell of getting them out alive-using two dangerous men who love her to death . . .

One is Camden McQueen, a talented tattoo artist who's made a permanent mark on Ellie's heart. The other is Javier Bernal, her fiery ex-lover who's busted more than a few heads in his time. From the crime-ridden streets of Mexico City to the predatory jungles of Honduras, this unlikely trio forms an uneasy alliance in the deadliest game of all-a gun-blazing battle to the finish that will pit enemy against enemy and lover against lover. And Ellie must choose the right man to trust . . . or die.

Review:

*Spoilers for Shooting Scars #2*

Bold Tricks was the perfect way to close this stunning trilogy!  The angst kept me on the edge of my seat, the love made my heart swoon, and the dark, twisted storyline quickened my heartbeat and at times filled my veins with dread.  This book was so good.  So insanely freaking good!

…there was something so goddamn sexy about seeing Camden handle a gun, the shiny metal against his big arms and wide chest, muscle against muscle. With the blood smeared on his face, dripping down onto the tats that teased at his neck , he was 100 percent man. I just wished he was 100 percent mine.

We jump right into the story were Shooting Scars left off.  Ellie, Camden and Javier have barely escaped from Travis’ house and they know it is a matter of time before they are found.  They are on the run for their lives, together.  And they will need to work together to keep Javier’s sister safe and to rescue Gus and Ellie’s mother.  What follows is an action packed, intense ride that was completely unpredictable at times.  It was impossible to put this book down.

“You own my heart. Please let me have yours.”

This book was only told from Ellie’s voice.  And while I was sad that I didn’t get to be in Camden’s head, it made a lot of sense.  We needed to feel as though we were in Ellie’s shoes.  Because her heart and soul had been ripped apart.  She desperately wanted to be back together with Camden, but she betrayed him in the worst sense.  Ellie tried to make Camden see the light, but with Javier there it was impossible.  Javier’s presence was slammed in Camden’s face every second of every torturous day.  The anger, jealousy, betrayal and lust from all of them was beyond palpable.  I loved it!

“What happened to your glasses?” I asked him.
He bit his lip, his eyes darting to the car. “They fell off somewhere. Probably when I fell. I can’t remember. That whole thing was… a blur.”
“Can you still see?”
He smiled, all beautiful white teeth, full lips, and dimples. “I’m nearsighted. Which means I’ll be a lousy shot until I get a new pair or some contacts. But at least I can see you clearly. The things up close. The things that matter.”

Ellie was one of those characters where it was easy to vacillate from liking to hating her.  Her actions and thoughts could be entirely messed up, but I still wanted the best for her.  Maybe it’s because I felt her suffering and remorse towards Camden.  I felt her desperate need for him to forgive her.  Or maybe it’s because finally in this book Ellie became a total bad-ass!  She knew who she wanted to be and where she wanted to stand.  She finally figured out all of her shit.  She even had me laughing at her in scenes that were entirely inappropriate for laughing, like when she stole a weapon from someone, but gah, I was so ecstatic that she became the person I thought she deserved to be!

This was no longer a matter of good or bad.
This was all gray.
Hazy, fuzzy gray.
I squeezed the trigger.
The chamber clicked.
Loudly.
Empty.

I can’t end this without talking about Camden.  I loved how dark he continued to be in this book.  A sexy, glasses wearing tatted up guy who would do anything to keep you safe, to do what is right, even if it meant not blinking an eye to kill someone?  UH, YES PLEASE!  I was so sad to say goodbye to him and Ellie (sooo not mentioning Javier here besides this part haha).  This whole series was utterly addicting, crazy, and entirely messed up but so, so, so good!  It’s unlike anything I have ever read before and I plan to devour many more of Karina Halle’s books!

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
sins & needles karina halle
Sins & Needles #1
Reviews:
Jen

Chelsea
karina halle shooting scars
Shooting Scars #2
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea
Bold Tricks Karina Halle Arttists Trilogy
Bold Tricks #3
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea

Save

BOOK REVIEW – Shooting Scars (The Artists Trilogy #2) by Karina Halle

BOOK REVIEW – Shooting Scars (The Artists Trilogy #2) by Karina HalleShooting Scars (The Artists Trilogy #2)
by Karina Halle
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A Dangerous Kind of Love . . .
When Ellie Watt offered herself to her thuggish former lover Javier to save Camden's life, she never imagined the twisted game Javier had planned for her. Trapped by him and his entourage of killers, Ellie is forced to commit a dangerous, heinous crime-or Javier will kill Camden. Now ex-con artist Ellie must find a way to stay ahead of the game . . . before it destroys her and the only man she ever loved.
Camden McQueen can't forget Ellie Watt. Seeking revenge and pursued by the authorities for a crime he didn't commit, the talented tattoo artist does things he never thought himself capable of to save Ellie. As Camden straddles the line between love and retribution, he vows to do everything in his power to get her back. But if Camden unleashes his dark side, will Ellie still love him?

Review:

*Spoilers for Sins and Needles*

I was the angel of death, walking arm in arm with Lucifer. – Ellie

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.  Wait, let me take a deep breath because that was amazing!  Shooting Scars was a phenomenal second installment that was even more dark and twisted than the first!  Not only was I glued to the pages, but I loved that I could never truly guess all that would eventually unfold.  Ellie, Camden and Javier could be such wild cards at times, and I loved that about them.  Their emotions, motives and persona’s always kept me on the tip of my toes.  Just like the storyline!

Even at her very worst, she made me want to be a better man. To be good enough for the both of us. – Camden

Elie has sacrificed herself for Camden’s happiness.  She has agreed to go away with Javier and his entourage of killers, so Camden can have his family back.  But what she doesn’t realize, is what is in store for her.  Ellie is going to be forced to commit a horrific crime, and if she doesn’t comply then Camden will be killed.  Now for a girl that I found myself struggling with liking from time to time, she had this amazing ability to pull vasts amount of sympathy from me.  Because in this story, she goes above and beyond what I consider forgivable.  My ability to like or even root for her was obliterated.  Or so I thought.  But somehow she managed to swing back around to my good side.  Again. Ugh, I don’t even know how it happened.  Maybe it’s the sympathy or the way she is manipulated and brainwashed to think that she is truly bad?!  I don’t know.  But somehow by that last page I liked her again.  Ellie constantly messed with my head!

All I knew is what I felt. And that the woman I loved, had always loved, had sacrificed herself for me. There was no getting past that. She’d embedded herself in my skin, like a tattoo I could never give myself. – Camden

Do you want to know what my favorite thing about this book was?  That we got to alternate between being in Ellie and Camden’s head.  Listening to Camden’s thoughts…..sigh, I was ecstatic to be there.  But at the same point, we truly got to know him inside and out.  And ohhhhh Camden, how dark can one person turn?!  The things that he thinks and the things that he does, well at times it was horrifying.  There’s this one part where uhhhhhh I never thought of something turning out that way and my stomach twisted again and again.  *shudders*  I was terrified that Camden was teetering on the edge of becoming someone evil.  Someone like to Javier.  And if you read my ON EVERY STREET review, you’ll know how much I despise that man.  But I’m holding out hope for Camden, just like he holds out hope for Ellie.  Because Camden is sweet, faithful, has so much love in his heart, and always tries his hardest to do what’s right!  I’m rooting for him all the way!

“Sometimes I’d do anything to be good.” – Ellie

Shooting Scars encompassed love, revenge, torture, hope and despair while keeping me on the edge of my seat.  While I wish there wasn’t so much time spent between Ellie and Javier, because I loathe that man, I get why it had to happen.  The conflict and struggles it created was paramount to this story.  BUT that ending?!?!  Must start the third and final book now!

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
sins & needles karina halle
Sins & Needles #1
Reviews:
Jen

Chelsea
karina halle shooting scars
Shooting Scars #2
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea
Bold Tricks Karina Halle Arttists Trilogy
Bold Tricks #3
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea

Save

BOOK REVIEW – On Every Street (The Artists Trilogy 0.5) by Karina Halle

BOOK REVIEW – On Every Street (The Artists Trilogy 0.5) by Karina HalleOn Every Street by Karina Halle
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

*Spoilers for Sins and Needles* *If you’re on Team Javier, then you’ll probably want to skip this review*

I loved Sins & Needles (My 5 Star Review can be found – here)!  I tumbled happily into Ellie and Camden’s world, and fell madly in love with their twisted story.  But I was a little nervous to start the second book, Shooting Stars.  Because I was terrified of what could happen since Javier had captured Ellie.  Would she kiss him, touch him, do more?  Would her old feelings slowly reappear?  Would she betray Camden?  The Camden I am obsessed with and love!  So I realized that I needed to have a better understanding of Ellie and her past.  I wanted to know why she fell in love with Javier.  I wanted to see exactly what their love was like.  And I was hoping that I would slowly fall in love with their past.  That way I wouldn’t be resentful or hold a grudge if Ellie did something stupid.  I know, I know, I’m making a HUGE guess on what could happen in book #2!  But it could happen, and I like to be emotionally prepared lol.  BUT, I should have stuck with my gut reaction while I contemplated reading this book, because it screamed at me to avoid this story at all costs!  I had a feeling that I would loathe watching Ellie with Javier be together and I was so right.  I hated Ellie and Javier together.  Hell I hated every single thing about Javier!

I could probably write a few pages on all of the reasons why I hate Javier, but I won’t.  I’ll just list my top three reasons instead. 🙂

Strike #1 – Instead of Javier coming off as sexy and suave, he just kept reminding me of a snake.  It felt as though he could wiggle himself out of any situation.  Time and time again he would slither out from underneath yet another sin that he would commit. I could rant about him asking for redemption (which I don’t think he deserves). but instead I’ll share a quote that made me shudder and laugh because SEE he is a snake! (Ellie went by Eden in the past)

“Eden,” he whispered, squeezing my hand.
I looked up at him. He looked so serious, his dark brows knitted together.
“You’ve gotten under my skin,” he said.
I wasn’t expecting that.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shed you.”

Strike #2 – I hated the way he talked about sex.  His words felt dirty and not in the good way.  When Camden would talk about sex or talk while they were having sex…..ohhh sigh……it felt as though the words were pouring out of his heart.  You could feel the passion.  It was sexy and beautiful.  But with Javier, it never felt as though he was talking from his heart or his soul.  Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have either? (sorry, I have to throw a dig in here and there lol)  Here’s his idea of sexy, which definitely isn’t the same as mine.

“I want to come on every inch of your body,” he whispered, and somehow it didn’t sound dirty at all. It sounded clean, pure, like rainwater. “I want to rub it in you, like this, until it’s a part of your skin. I want to stain you, Eden. I want myself embedded in your skin, in your heart, in your soul.”

Strike #3 – I become annoyed when Javier would talk about owning Ellie or having her surrender to him.  No.  Just no.  Again, not sexy in my eyes.

“I won’t hurt you,” he said, reading my thoughts. “But you can’t just hand over your virginity to me, Eden. I have to take it from you. I have to make you surrender to me , to everything, in every way possible. I want your heart, your soul, and your body. I want the you that you’re hiding deep inside. I must have her.”

So yeah, I despise Javier.  I tried my hardest to find anything redeemable or attractive in him, but I found nothing.  Nothing at all.  So now I am counting the seconds until Camden comes roaring back into the series and knocks Javier out for good!  Or kills him.  Tomatoes tomato, cause you know that either way will be fine by me as long as it happens.  Keeping my fingers crossed!  Come on Camden!!!

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
sins & needles karina halle
Sins & Needles #1
Reviews:
Jen

Chelsea
karina halle shooting scars
Shooting Scars #2
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea
Bold Tricks Karina Halle Arttists Trilogy
Bold Tricks #3
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea

Save

BOOK REVIEW – Sins and Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1) by Karina Halle

BOOK REVIEW – Sins and Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1) by Karina HalleSins and Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1)
by Karina Halle
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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:

Sins & Needles slowly dragged me in, and once it had me in it’s clutches, it had a death grip on my heart!  I am still left stuttering, trying to wrap my head around what I just read.  I am completely astonished and blown away by what unfolded in front of me.  It’s unlike anything that I have ever read before.  By the last page I had no clue whether I wanted to smile, laugh, cry, or scream.  My emotions were that twisted, just like the story was.  If you are looking for an insanely addicting yet utterly messed up book, then this is for you!

When I was a child, I was never in a town long enough to get enrolled in the softball team, which was a shame— because as the cue cracked against the side of his bald head, I realized it could have been a second career. – Ellie

Ellie Watt is a grifter, just like her parents taught her to be.  But after getting caught in a con, she is in need of a break.  In pursuit of a fresh start, she heads to the only place that has ever felt like home.  Her Uncle’s ranch.  But for Ellie, she can’t stop what is ingrained in her.  And she has her next mark in sight.  Camden McQueen.  Her one and only true friend from High School.  But Camden has plans of his own, and makes a deal with Ellie that is about to change both of their lives forever.

“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.” – Camden to Ellie

Ellie was insanely difficult to connect with.  She was tough, her heart was buried deep within her, and for the most part it seemed as though she had no conscious or moral compass.  At times I contemplated whether I really liked her.  But throughout the story she earned my sympathy and eventually even my respect.  Who knows if she’ll keep it, because her track record is beyond horrible.  But everything, and I do mean everything that she did intrigued me.  She was dark, twisted and I loved listening to her screwed up mind as she forged along her disturbing path!

My eyes squinted from the light. From the way he was positioned by the window, he almost looked angelic. But angels don’t have tattoos and they certainly don’t have guns in their hands. – Ellie

You will want to meet Camden!  He was such an enigma to me.  He is a talented tattoo artist that is sexy as sin, yet he always seemed to have something simmering below the surface.  He would give these looks or say these phrases that made me pause.  I would question what I just read, because I had to have read that wrong.  But after going back, nope I wasn’t wrong and it made him appear dark and twisted.  Kind of like Ellie.  And there was no way that could be right.  Right?

Holy shit, did Camden just spank me? – Ellie

When Camden and Ellie were together, they were intense, raw and gritty.  I loved that we got to learn their whole sordid history.  At the beginning of the chapters, we would have a flashback to Ellie’s earlier years.  We got to see Camden in High School as a goth who wore a trench coat, black fingernail polish and lipstick.  They banded together and were the outcasts of the school.  Of course no one wanted to be friends with the girl with the constant limp besides Camden.  The history between them created a picture that was whole and made this story amazingly powerful.  By the time I was almost halfway through the book, it refused to be put down.  Sins and Needles became action packed, sizzling sexy, dark, and I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
sins & needles karina halle
Sins & Needles #1
Reviews:
Jen

Chelsea
karina halle shooting scars
Shooting Scars #2
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea
Bold Tricks Karina Halle Arttists Trilogy
Bold Tricks #3
Reviews:

Jen
Chelsea

BOOK REVIEW – Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1) by Karina Halle

BOOK REVIEW – Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1) by Karina HalleDarkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1)
by Karina Halle
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it was to read this book. Back in the day, my best friends and I would gather around the basement big screen television and watch every scary movie known to man. Hell, we watched so many that I was literally jaded when an actual good scary movie came out-I was never scared. Jump to present day, about 7-8 years later, and I can’t even watch a scary movie commercial. Yeah, things went south quickly.

SO. I have sworn off scary movies (for the most part, I’m a lot like Perry in this sense) or anything remotely scary that might freak me out and give me more nightmares than those that already plague me. I am so happy my friend asked me to read this with her, because if she hadn’t, I most likely would have never gotten the lady balls to read this or to finish it if I had attempted to even start it.

The story most definitely starts out with a bang, I must say. Perry is having a recurring nightmare (or is she?) that haunts her frequently. Now, this made a fan out of me right off the bat, because as I stated above, I have recurring nightmares as well. Scarily enough? She has the SAME. EXACT. DREAM. that I do. She has it in the same fashion, is laying in the same position on the bed, and has the same end result as I do: Screaming her freakin’ head off. The only difference is the mouth on the nightmarish figure-that doesn’t appear in mine. Needless to say, I knew that while this might be a “starting point” in the series and not so scary for some people, it would most likely be a trigger for me. I am happy to say I did finish the book with minimal freak outs and only had to stop reading once due to the scare factor. Yay me.

Perry is such a fun character, and as I told my friend I read this with, she is the mirror image of me and my personality. It’s always fun when you can identify with the main character, and Perry didn’t disappoint. She was quirky, funny, witty, and brave to boot (now that I edit this, I see that it’s implied I think I am all these things-not what I was going for here-I was only saying she has the same inner dialogue/thoughts as I do and a lot of the same mannerisms…just a note). The biggest character trait that separates fictional Perry and I? If I had seen that freakin’ creeptastic lighthouse, I would have RAN AS FAR AWAY AS I COULD HAVE and never looked back. Oh wait, I would NEVER HAVE LEFT THE GROUP IN THE FIRST PLACE! So, suffice to say, she was a very brave character who faced her fears head on, while I, as Perry stated in numerous instances, am a chickenshit.

“Now, despite my interest in the paranormal, I never watched those ghost hunting shows on TV. Ironically, I am too chickenshit and my imagination is far too powerful.”

^See? That’s me-right there in a nutshell.^

And then we have Dex. Declan-whatever you want to call him. His name(s) says it all. He is a mysterious, brave, fun, and infuriating man. He lives on the edge of his seat, as far as I can tell, and doesn’t seem to be afraid of much. He is brave in the face of terror, for both himself and Perry, but urgent and quick-to-react when necessary. He is the most fascinating and intriguing when he is protecting Perry. I love seeing the change in demeanor for both high-adrenaline situations and run-ins with bitchy college “friends” from the past. I don’t think he ever has a consistant personality in any certain situation, but one thing never changes: he does his best to protect Perry, both physically and mentally. I really loved seeing his character development throughout the story, because he became a really sweet (mostly), charming guy. I can’t wait to see what happens between the two.

The writing was very good as well. I couldn’t believe that this book, that was FREE on Nook, had such good writing. It was funny, sharp, and witty. I was drawn in from the first page, and even more so after a couple chapters. This author had such a fun way of writing the story that the reader finds themself pulled into each chapter without even realizing it. If I didn’t have so many books to read at this time, I would most defintely be starting the next in the series-BUT, since I do, I will just keep this little gem called Red Fox hidden away until I get a chance to read it. I seriously can’t wait.

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