On Every Street by Karina Halle

Book Review

449e3f10bdc7ca12fc35905d0af75dfa

 

Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 6/10

Setting: 8/10

Writing style: 7/10

Character building: 8/10

Enjoyment: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

My Opinionated Review

Note: This is a prequel in The Artist Trilogy series. You can find the review for the first book here

Sins & Needles by Karina Halle review

On Every Street is a book that left me utterly conflicted. I have not expected to like the story, however, it surprised me in the best possible way. This prequel completely changes the game, giving the reader a different kind of perspective by telling the whole story between Ellie and Javier. Now, understanding the reason behind Javier’s actions makes the story at the same time clearer and more confusing, and leaves me with more love for the character. Although this story did not change my feelings towards the bad wolf Javier by much (I do not want to see Ellie and Javier as a couple in the future), it definitely made me appreciate the character’s complexity and multi-layer-ism.

This prequel tells the story of Ellie when she was Eden White, and ready to get her revenge on the man who destroyed her life. But when she decides to play Javier, a dangerous drug lord, to get to Travis, she soon sees that her game is turning to real feeling. The story is not new, we see these characters’ older selves in Sins & Needles. But it gives a different kind of perspective, allowing the reader to understand the past much better.

First of all, the fact that I never like prequels, or side stories, or other characters’ perspectives, needs to be acknowledged. They just don’t do it for me. I like the main story and that is it. However, often, I find myself forcing to read them in order to be able to enjoy the main story better. I believed that I needed to learn about Ellie’s backstory when she was Eden White and in love with a villain of Sins & Needles. I was prepared to skim the book but happened to be pleasantly surprised how this story completely allured me and brought up new feelings. It probably was one of the best prequels I have ever read. I am so glad that I read Sins & Needles first because knowing Ellie as a strong and conniving woman has made her actions as Eden White more understandable. Also, it completely changed the viewpoint of Javier. He is portrayed as a complete villain in the first book, and here the reader can get insight on what drew Ellie to him.

So although I definitely enjoyed the story, and I felt the chemistry between two main characters, it still remained a dysfunctional relationship. There are many books that try to glorify those harmful love stories, but in this case, it wasn’t it. The reader is never misguided, thinking that Javier is some kind of hero, as well as made aware of Ellie’s reasoning behind her actions, making her naïve persona easily relatable.

In this book, Ellie is Eden, and at times it felt like I was reading about a completely different character. Although I prefer Ellie, the strong and smart con artist, it was quite easy to understand and relate to Eden. She grew up without love, filled with hate and thirst for revenge, and was never appreciated. She is also young and naïve, still an innocent girl trying to find her place in the world. So when Javier admires her, loves her, and is ready to give her the world, she decides to ignore the reality and live in a lie. It is easy to avoid reality, easy to believe the lie and forget the truth, especially when it makes you feels good. Javier works as an escape for Ellie. She escapes her life, escapes even herself, and these are such human emotions that everyone can relate to.

Javier really has the ability to make your heart melt. Being so loved, especially by a man who should not be able to love, would make anyone feel special. Javier definitely possesses quite a few redeemable qualities. However, he is also a killer. The scenes where he would open up about his feeling towards Eden, and towards himself, really made me feel for the character. Nevertheless, I never stopped seeing him as a villain. Therefore, knowing that the relationship was doomed and Ellie would soon be getting on a journey to becoming her best self, made me enjoy the ride without judgements and eye-rolling. Plus, the fact that the book is insanely does not harm at all.

There were moments where Eden’s actions were really unwise, but the author always acknowledged her stupidity, making the character human with a desire to love and be loved. Javier was never made into a ‘perfect’ boyfriend, Eden knew she was living an illusion, at times even questioning whether Javier’s actions were romantic or creepy. This awareness gives the reader a completely different perspective of this dysfunctional relationship – Javier’s bad actions and Eden’s willingness to ignore all the bad stuff are never glorified, but the ability to love a bad man is never judged as well. The voice of reason here was Gus, and he made both Ellie and the reader aware of the relationship being a delusion. And that, plus the horrible stunt that Javier pulls, allows Eden to turn back into Ellie, and become the character I love very much.

I feel there has to be more story to tell behind Javier’s actions. Now he is definitely a villain – a killer with an obsession. However, I still feel he possesses some redeemable traits. So off to the next book, where I hope to find more answers.

I definitely recommend reading this prequel after Sins & Needles, but before going into Shooting Scars

 

Book Playlist

  1. Dire Straits – On Every Street
  2. Nine Inch Nails – Wish
  3. Calexico – The Vanishing Mind
  4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – People Ain’t No Good
  5.  Elliott Smith – Bottle Up and Explode

Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

Book Review

16029994

Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 6/10

Setting: 6/10

Writing style: 6/10

Character building: 9/10

Enjoyment: 8/10

Steam factor: 9/10

Overall: 7/10

My Opinionated Review

Sins & Needles is a refreshing contemporary romance with a darker twist and well, who doesn’t love a great con artist story?

I was meaning to pick up this book for a long time. After seeing all the good reviews on Goodreads, my expectations were quite high. I guess that was my mistake, I expected too much, therefore finding a few problems along the way was bound to happen. However, despite that, I truly enjoyed this book, the story was captivating and intense, characters – so wonderfully messed up, and the romance – hot.

Meet Ellie Watt, she is a con artist, a very interesting character, who carries a lot of anger and a lot of issues. She is a criminal, a con artist, but has her set of morals, making her a complex and likable character. Her portrayal was so wonderfully human, I loved that she was not that typical innocent girl/perfection. She makes stupid decisions, blames the world for her misbehaviour, is smart and conniving, and has an entertaining inner voice about all her hormonal swings. Her problematic persona really made her a great female lead. Moreover, her cons are catching up to her, her past is trying to find her, and a criminal thriller twist adds so much to the story, that it ceases to be just a contemporary romance, and becomes a steamy intense ride, filled with twists and secrets and bad decisions.

Now meet the love-interest Camden McQueen. Bullied for his Goth appearance in high school, he grows up to be a tattooed sex-god. His character was really well-crafted. I was never able to understand him completely, and that results in a great multi-dimensional character construction. He has his issues, has his charms, made mistakes in the past, is very talented and passionate, and most of all, he is a true match for Ellie. Their whole relationship is a blend of love and attraction and hate and revenge. So when he catches Ellie in the middle of her robbery, things get really complicated and interesting.

So their relationship was a very refreshing portrayal of romance. I used to be a huge fan of contemporary romance, but lately, the genre just makes me cringe. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised. The weren’t any cliques, misogynistic ideals and creepy declarations of love that usually comes in some form of a male owning a female. Both these people were doing what they wanted to do, giving in to passion, but actually plotting their own schemes. Ellie – a robbery, and Camden – catching Ellie in the act. And what actually made me really start liking their relationship was the fact that Camden does not take Ellie’s shit. He calls her a bitch when she really deserves it, but never steps over the line. And even if their relationship has some major problems, I believe that both these characters are on equal terms, without one being better or worse than the other. And having so much passionate sexy scenes did not hurt at all.

Somehow I seem to express only my love for the book. I really thought that it was great, but in the beginning, I guess I just kept expecting more. And although I have been thoroughly enjoying the story, I did not think that it was anything spectacular. The characters were great, their relationship started on interesting terms, and they have shared a complicated past. But I guess this classic formula just stopped doing anything for me.

Moreover, I really had a bit of a problem with the writing at first. The sentences seemed a bit clumsy at times, and I had issues with actually getting into the story. It might have been because I have read so many spectacularly written works beforehand, or I just wasn’t used to the writer’s voice, but it was a troubling factor for me. Later in the book, I got used to it and it ceased to be an issue.

Lastly, the switch between first and third person when writing ‘then’ and ‘now’ chapters annoyed me a little bit. It always gives me an impression of trying too hard.

With all that said, I thought that the story really picked up in the second half of the book. Although romance still existed, it ceased to be the main focus, and the complicated line between trust and betrayal and love and hate just made me care about the characters much more. The suspense and fear that Javier brought to the table really changed the pacing and the concept of the story, and my opinion of the book went from quite enjoying it to really really liking it. The book was filled with so much action and horror and passion in the end. I cannot wait to see where the story goes next.

So overall, it was a really enjoyable read. I am a bit confused about the following books. When it comes to the series, I usually enjoy the first book the least, since it takes me a long time to start caring about the characters. However, when it comes to contemporary romance, I don’t think I have ever read a sequel that I really enjoyed. But since it stopped being only a romance and now has much more danger and suspense to it, I have hopes for a thrilling ride.

Book Playlist

  1. Calexico – Better and Better
  2. Dire Straits – Fade to Black
  3. John Paul White – Neon
  4. Radiohead – Last Flowers
  5. Nine Inch Nails – Only