A few days after finishing this book, I'm still not completely sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I felt like it was an awesome action-packed storA few days after finishing this book, I'm still not completely sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I felt like it was an awesome action-packed story that immediately had me hooked. Even more so for this installment in the series, since it's the last one. Halle's writing is just so incredibly engrossing and honestly that's probably my favorite thing about the Artists trilogy as a whole.
I really enjoyed having Ellie as the narrator because I feel like she's easy to relate to despite all the bad stuff she's gone through in life. She also has my same sense of humor; dry and sarcastic. Though she made some very questionable decisions at times, I was always rooting for her. I felt like the pacing of Bold Tricks was perfect; something interesting was always happening and it was intense. The best kinds of books always seem to leave you in a little bit of a daze and make you think.
Of course, I was very anxious to know how the love triangle would resolve itself. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. I really like Camden and having a genuinely good guy with no ulterior motives around was refreshing. Especially since everyone else always seemed to have their own agenda. I also appreciated that he brought out the good in Ellie and made her feel like a worthy person. However, I have to admit I did get a little tired of hearing it over and over throughout the book. In short, I guess I wanted to like Camden a little more than I actually did.
It's kind of funny I feel that way about Camden, because the opposite is true of Javier. I wanted to like him less than I did. But the truth is I was always a bit captivated whenever he was around. I looked forward to his page time and was sad when he was gone. Maybe I just liked the fact that he was just so unpredictable, but for whatever the reason, I quite liked him despite all his... evil actions.
I was also a little annoyed by how quickly Ellie was suddenly so disgusted by Javier's touch right after Camden showed up. I mean, they'd been sleeping together just days before that. It seemed a little unrealistic. And it's kind of untrue to say there's a love triangle in this book when it was glaringly obvious who Ellie was going to pick from page one.
***SPOILERS present from this point on!!!!****
While I was disappointed that Ellie ended up with Camden, I understood why it was necessary. Despite whatever feelings Ellie might have had for Javier, he just lied and hid things from her one to many times. Had she chosen to be with him, she never would have been able to trust him. And Ellie deserved someone who could love her with his whole heart. Javier may have loved Ellie, but he would pick money and power over her any day if the week. I was also kind of saddened by how quickly his character deteriorated after Ellie basically broke up with him for good. I think it's safe to say that Javier went from "border line bad boy" to "actual scary villain". I also didn't really want him to end up in prison in the end....
I feel like I complained a lot in this review, but I actually really enjoyed this series. And I don't have to worry about Javier's ending because he's going to be feature in a spin-off series!!!...more
Warning: Review contains spoilers for the first book
I picked this up almost immediately after finishing Sins & Needles because I just had to knowWarning: Review contains spoilers for the first book
I picked this up almost immediately after finishing Sins & Needles because I just had to know what was going to happen next after that ending. I think I made a good decision since I ended up concluding that the sequel was even better than the first. Honestly, though, I have no idea why the title is Shooting Stars. I could understand sins and needles because it was the name of Camden's tattoo parlor, but where on earth did stars come into play here? Thankfully the series continues to be difficult to put down and just as addictive as before. Halle is definitely a fan of ending her stories with cliffhangers, though, and while I kind of appreciate the suspense I also wish it didn't end quite so abruptly. Thankfully, I won't have to wait very long for Bold Tricks to come out - I've always thought a whole year was way too much time to suffer through while waiting for the next installment in an interesting series with intriguing characters.
I was a little wary at first when I found at that Shooting Stars was going to be told in dual POVs, switching every chapter from Ellie to Camden. Though I still haven't completely warmed up to Ellie as a protagonist, I'm used to her voice and as much as I love Camden, I wasn't sure I wanted the style of the story changed. However, it was completely necessary in this book since the two are separated for a good eighty five percent. of it or so. I would have had no idea what Camden was up to, otherwise. And thank goodness that wasn't so, because I might have started to doubt him, though not as much as Ellie did. I understand that Ellie doesn't trust people - given her life experiences, it's really not surprising at all. Yet I couldn't help but feel a little dejected at how quickly she decided that Camden had settled happily down with his ex-wife and son, Sophia and Ben, and forgotten about her completely after everything they went through together in the first book. Camden could have had a pretty solid basis for hating Ellie twice over - once when she basically betrayed him in high school, and the other when she tried to rob him after they slept together and went on a date. Yet he managed to fall in love with her anyway despite that. If he's so determined to love her, why on earth would he give up so easily, especially when he thought she was in danger?
For that reason alone, I was pretty irked with Ellie for the majority of Shooting Stars. That's not to say that I didn't pity her once in a while. Sometimes I even liked her for being smart and sassy - I definitely loved her sarcastic sense of humor. I wondered if my opinion of Javier would change over the course of the novel, after having seen quite a few reviews swooning over him, but I have to say that it's almost completely unchanged. I suppose he did have a few redeeming qualities - I think he does care about Ellie in his own way and he never failed to make the scenes come alive on the page/screen with his intensity - but at the same time, he's pretty much just a bad guy. He never tells Ellie a certain truth about Camden and he basically tells her that she's as bad as him and therefore deserves him and his lifestyle, which helps to break down Ellie's control gradually until she believes him. A combination of that feeling - which in my opinion was akin to worthlessness - and old feelings of love cause her to sleep with Javier more than once. Though I couldn't deny the chemistry between them, at the same time it felt wrong and my heart broke when Camden saw them together.
I'm not sure if I'll ever think differently about Javier, but there's one more book in the series, and I could be wrong. For now, though, I'm Team Camden all the way. The actual plot of the story was very engrossing - on one hand you have Camden trying to find Ellie, and you have Ellie, who is dealing with a lot of internal and external problems. The main external one is that Javier wants her to help him kill a man named Travis, who caused the scarring on Ellie's leg and murdered Javier's sister. The climatic scene at the end involving him was very exciting. I have some ideas about what might happen next, but mostly I'm just really curious about these characters' immediate future because three main ones are left in a somewhat awkward situation.
After finishing Venom not too long ago, I knew I wanted to read the sequel, and luckily for me it had just come out. The redesign of the covers is sta After finishing Venom not too long ago, I knew I wanted to read the sequel, and luckily for me it had just come out. The redesign of the covers is starting to grow on me; the hardback I read from didn't have those broken pages on the sides, which I appreciated - after all, you can't properly flip through a book when the publishers decide to include those, and though they are pretty they can get very annoying. It took me a while to get into the first book in this series, so I worried about having the same problem with Belladonna, but fortunately that was not the case. I was immediately drawn into the story, because it starts off on an exciting note, with Cass' fiance Luca being arrested. It's mentioned in the summary, so I knew it advance that this would take place, but it was still surprising because Luca seemed like such a gentle character - I never felt the need to doubt his innocence.
Paul continues to write beautiful descriptions, and I cannot praise it enough. This time, she ventures outside of Venice and tells us about Florence; she has obviously done some research about this time period. Everything about Belladonna felt very vivid and alive, and I'm going to be very eager to get back to reading her writing style when the third novel comes out next year (her kissing scenes are also quite nice). Though I very much enjoyed Venom, one of my main problems with it was its protagonist, Cass. I found I really liked her a times, but at others I was completely baffled by her decisions. Sadly, I can't say I feel any differently about her now.
She did have her moments of awesomeness, though - I greatly admired her determination to find out more about the Order of the Eternal Rose and to save Luca from unfair execution, even though she was still unsure about her feelings for him. As she says herself at one point in the book, it would have been easy for her to just let him die so she could pursue whatever else she wanted at the time and not be bound some guy through a betrothal. She did seem like a very good person, and I could relate to her at times. I found her mixed feelings and confusion very realistic. I guess my only main gripe with her this time around was when she goes to Florence, she excuses herself from a party and wanders off by herself into the woods at night just because she wanted to see a dear, and she knew perfectly well that Florence was not the safest place at that moment. A very poor decision on her part, one that had me practically yelling at the book.
I was hoping the love triangle would be addressed in Belladonna, and it appears that it has been, but since this isn't the last novel, I can't be sure. I had extremely mixed feelings about who I wanted Cass to end up with after I read Venom. I liked Falco, but there were bits and pieces of his personality that I didn't like at all. Luca seemed really sweet, but he just wasn't around often enough for me to care for a lot. Well, the same problems have sprung up here. Luca is locked up throughout the entire story, appearing only in the beginning and the end, and not for very long. Hopefully he's there a lot more later on so I can have some time to get attached to him. I like everything about him so far, but I still reserve judgement. I actually disliked Falco quite a bit here. Every time he met up with Cass, he seemed to just want to sleep with her, and though I do believe he cares for her, I couldn't exactly deny the strong hints about his relationship with Bella. But again, I can't be positive because we're never told for sure whether or not there is something going on between them. I can't help but think that Luca and Cass will end up together, but the title of the third book is Starling, which is Falco's nickname for Cass, so maybe that's a hint? If the F/C paring did happen, I wouldn't be entirely against it, but Falco would have to redeem himself somehow.
I was already aware that this series was going to take a paranormal turn before I started it, so I wasn't surprised when vampires were brought up, but I definitely thought it was an interesting direction for the author to take her story in. I thought it was going to just be historical fiction, and at first I was sure it would irritate me, but I thought Paul did really well with building up tension about the Order of the Eternal Rose and what exactly they were doing. Belladonna was a creepy villain, and I'm sure she will be around to cause chaos in Starling. The side characters were all very charming; though Madalena, Cass' best friend, got under my skin quite a bit. She's very much on the shallow side, but with the way she was raised I supposed it was realistic for her to be the way she was. Siena was a heartwarming character. The way this book ends definitely sets the scene for the last one, and I can't wait to see what happens next....more