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Sins & Needles - Karina Halle 4.5*

I am so glad I didn't wait until the 29th to check out Amazon! This book was released early and I was able to buy my copy last night.

I could NOT put this book down. I had a small idea of what it was about but I never even read the blurb fully. One day I came across a photo of the guy being fancasted as Camden McQueen and my initial thoughts were "oh my."

I was intrigued by the story right from the start. I thought it was unique and that the author was admirable for creating a character who wasn't easy to love. Ellie Watt lived her life screwing people over. She had con artists as parents and from an early age she was introduced to the business. She's a natural at telling lies and using people. One day she makes a decision to go back to her old hometown and start her life anew, this time determined to live HER life and use her own identity. She seeks her Uncle Jim, whom she stayed with briefly when she went go high school. But that was many years ago. Her parents have long been shunned by the town and her name was tarnished, even in Uncle Jim's eyes. He gives in, however, and lets her stay with him for a few days just to help her with a place to stay while she looks for a job.

As she peruses the town for possible employment she runs into Camden McQueen, her former (only) friend and former school freak and outcast, only there's nothing freaky about him now. The new Camden is drop dead gorgeous, covered in tattoos and seem to be interested in catching up despite the fact that she ended their friendship in a hurtful way back then. Ellie's immediately drawn to him and as soon as he mentions his successful tattoo business her eyes start to flash dollar signs and the old Ellie is crawling back on the surface again, plotting devious ways to steal from him. But while she's thinking of how to screw him over she can't help but reminisce on their past and through the moments they shared hanging out she can't help but feel something towards Camden.

As a reader, I doubted Ellie. I couldn't warm up to her. I hated her for being flakey. I wanted her to really drop her old habits and start over, especially when she meets Camden again. In my head I was projecting "don't screw this up" messages to her and I was so frustrated the moment she decides to steal from Camden. I realize now how brilliantly the author succeeded in portraying Ellie as a con artist. She really was hard to trust! What I really find interesting was how Ellie's childhood stories were interlaced throughout the book. The author doesn't just make Ellie narrate her past to Camden. It would've been unfair to fit her past life in just a few paragraphs. Instead we're shown Ellie as a young girl suffering as a consequence of her parents' poor decisions and Ellie as a teenager navigating the tough time in her life in high school. These stories were told in the 3rd person POV, and it really emphasized how removed Ellie felt from herself. As the story progresses, we find out what happened to Ellie and Camden's friendship and we understand now how their characters turned out the way they are.

And Camden, my Camden... I really had NO IDEA. I don't want to give away spoilers but after he told Ellie his story I just wanted to cry and seek retribution for them both. I wanted them to be finally FREE and be reconciled with themselves and with each other. In the end, despite all the conning and lies, I found Ellie and Camden to be the truest characters I've read about lately. You feel EVERYTHING they feel. And you'd be rooting for them to get their happy ending.

I can't wait to read more about Ellie and Camden! I'm just as excited to know more about Javier. I can't resist a Hispanic guy with yellow green eyes. :)