Book Review: My Life In Shambles – Karina Halle

When Valerie Stephens made the resolution to say yes to new adventures, she never thought she’d end up in the tiny town of Shambles, fake engaged to one of Ireland’s top rugby players. But there’s a first time for everything.

They say bad things happen in threes.

After my boyfriend broke off our engagement, I lost my apartment, and was laid off from my job, I can definitely attest to that.

They also say life is what happens when you say yes to new adventures.

So when my two sisters invited me to ring in the new year in Ireland, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and go for it. I was going to let “saying yes” be my new resolution.

Little did I know I’d spend New Year’s Eve having a hot and dirty one-night stand with Padraig McCarthy, one hell of a sexy Irishman. I also didn’t know that the brooding and intense sex god was one of Ireland’s top rugby players.

A rugby player with a proposition for me:

Come with him to his tiny hometown of Shambles and pretend to be his fiancé for a few days, just so that his ailing father can have some peace of mind.

It sounded simple enough.

It was anything but.

Not when a town gets up in your business, not when the media hunts you down, not when your past comes back in the picture, not when there are real hearts and feelings at stake.

Not when there are secrets that could break you.

They say life is what happens when you say yes to new adventures.

This is my life in Shambles.


Hmm… * scratching head * I guess you could say this is the type of book that takes on a completely different route than one would expect.

`My Life In Shambles by author Karina Halle is a 350 page standalone romance that gives you all feels, even the ones you didn´t necessarily ask for.

To be honest- I´m a little torn about this book. I loved the romantic side of it but I didn´t necessarily enjoy the overall depressing vibes it gave off. My Life In Shambles is sort of a tragic romance. Heavy topics such as illness and death weigh the story down. It´s hopeful but not hopeful enough if that makes any sense?

There´s absolutely nothing wrong with the story. It´s a story well told. The writing was great. I can´t even complain about the characters. It´s just that I wasn´t looking for this type of romance.

I bought My Life In Shambles thinking I´d get something different… something maybe about life as a fake fiance of a rugby player, trying to keep her wits together while dealing with his lifestyle. Well, that´s almost what a reader gets… Only with additional gloom darkening the newly couple´s lives.

 

My Thoughts In A Nutshell…

 

Its me, not the book. The book is fine. The story is great. I just not something I´d drop everything else for as this type of story isn´t what I usually enjoy reading.

 

Would I recommend this book? I would.

Would I reread this book? Probably not.

 

The Cover – 3 Stars:  It´s cute.

The Story – 3 Stars:  Meeh. It wasn´t for me.

The Characters – 4 Stars: I actually enjoyed the MCs and even the sub-characters.

My emotional state after finishing this read – Indifferent.

 

 

If you think `My Life In Shambles` by author Karina Halle would be something you´d enjoy then click here and get a copy!

 

 

Book Review ( Before & After ): Dirty Angels ( #1 ) – Karina Halle

synopsis single

For Luisa Chavez, a twenty-three year old former beauty queen, a better life has always been just out of her reach. Sure, she’s had men at her feet since she was a young teenager but she’s never had the one thing she’s craved – security. Having grown up in near poverty, her waitressing job in Cabo San Lucas can barely let her take care of herself, let alone her ailing parents. Every day is another unwanted advance, every day is a struggle to survive.

When Salvador Reyes, the depraved leader of a major Mexican cartel, takes an interest in her, Luisa is presented with an opportunity she can’t afford to pass up. She’ll become Salvador’s wife and exchange her freedom and body for a life of riches – riches she can bestow upon her deserving parents. But Luisa quickly finds out that even the finest wines and jewels can’t undo the ugliness in her marriage, nor the never-ending violence that threatens her every move.

Soon, Luisa is looking for an escape, a way out of the carefully controlled life she’s leading. She finally gets her wish in the worst way possible.

As it is, being the wife of Salvador makes her an ideal target for rival cartels and there’s one particular man who needs Luisa as part of his cartel’s expansion. One particular man whose quest for power has destroyed lives, slit throats and gotten him out of an American prison. One particular man who will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.

That man is Javier Bernal. And he wants Luisa. He wants to take her, keep her, ruin her.

Unless she ruins him first.


 

***WARNING***

This book deals with drug cartels and as such it contains a lot of sex and violence and some violent sex. It can get pretty ugly, pretty dark and pretty crazy. There is drug use, abuse, a bit of torture and dubious consent. The hero is not a hero and the villains…well, they’re even worse. If this sort of thing bothers you, PLEASE DO NOT READ IT. This ain’t no cupcake farting unicorn kind of book. If you are even a bit squeamish about violence, brutality and rape, this is your warning to stay away from a book that you certainly will not like (and why read books that you know you won’t like?)

 

Copied from the `Dirty Angels`( Dirty Angels #1) book description on Goodreads

 


 

before and after

 

It´s been close to 5 years when I first laid my hands on this gem. Back in 2014 I was all hot and bothered to read this promising and much talked about dark romance.

Word had it ( back then ) that `Dirty Angels`was the latest shocker. Dirty, filthy, brutal and just one of those reads where you get riled up, all while falling helplessly in love with the romantic clusterfuck. dirty angels

Love / hate. Despise / adore. Exciting / shocking. `Dirty Angels` was that all that and so much more.

I´ve always been a sucker for gritty romances. The more triggers dark romances had the more intrigued I was. Did I get my money´s worth? Did my fellow book bloggers promise too much when they said this book should be approached with caution? Yes. YES. Y. E. S!

32 year old me loved this read. I remember the overnighter I pulled because I couldn´t put the book down. I remember suffering a week long book hangover after I finished the book. I remember calling my husband at work, telling him I needed to find more books like `Dirty Angels`.

I even found my 2014 review on my old blog! You´re welcome.

 

review old
Please excuse the review. It´s old and orange. Don´t know what was wrong with me back then. 

 

See? Literally the slow motion train wreck you couldn´t pull your eyes away from.

Back in 2014 I gave `Dirty Angels`( Dirty Angels #1 ) by author Karina Halle 5 out of 5 stars champagne glasses.

 

5 years later…. 

 

37 year old me decided it was time to do some `Dirty Angel`rereading. It´s been a while and I wanted to know if I still felt the same.

In a way- I do. My general feelings for the story haven´t changed. I still believe the story is just as great as it was back in 2014. For me, this book is a timeless dark romance because it still tugs at all the “right” emotional strings. Even 5 years later I still feel very strong for the characters and what they´ve been put through.

 

Do I think this book is worth the warning label? The answer to that is complicated.

2014 was the year for dark romances. Authors were testing new waters and began publishing the “mind fuck” stories. Didn´t bother me one bit. But in 2014 there weren´t many offended readers. The triggered groups were smaller. Also, in 2014 reviews looked a little different. You either enjoyed the brutal romance or you didn´t. You either accepted the warning and felt warned or you didn´t.

These days, a book can´t have enough warning labels because there are far too many reviewers who are easily offended by the slightest event.

 

I can say, without a shred of doubt, that `Dirty Angels` by Karina Halle is still a fucking awesome twisted dark romance. One readers should treat as a work of fiction.

 


Would I recommend this read? 32 year old me would have. 37 year old me still would. I still think it would be wise to trust the warning label, though. Not everyone treats certain topics as casually as I do.

Would I reread this book? Already have.


 

The Cover – 3 Stars:     I can´t remember what I thought of the cover back in the day but now… I don´t really think it´s mind blowing. Fitting for the story, sure.

The Story – 5 Stars:     This is what I enjoy. This is how I expect my dark romances to be like. Shocking, graphic and full of “Oh hell no!”

The Characters – 5 Stars:   Nothing has changed. Javier is still a bastard I appreciate and Luisa is, by far, one of the strongest characters ever created. Bad ass all the way!

My emotional state after finishing this read- 2014: Impressed. 2019: Entertained.

 

5 stars

 


 

`Dirty Angels`can be purchased on  Amazon.com

dirty angels

 

Review- RARE ´17 Berlin Book Signing Event

There are different types of book signing events. There are the ones we all know from back in the days, where authors had a table at a bookstore and signed tons of books for their fans.(Good thing  is – those signings still exist. They´re rare…but every now and again published authors pop into a bookstore and do a signing. * YAY *)

In this Era, book signing events have become more interesting, to say the least. Due to the massive amount of self-publishers ( and their wildly growing fan-bases ) alot of author events have turned into something bizarre ( and that´s putting it mildly ).

Book signings are said to be a great way to meet your favorite author ( maybe even hold a chitchat with them for 2 minutes ) and get your books, kindle covers, boobs and scrapbooks signed. Some signing events also offer full weekends of drinks, parties, meet & greets, and other fun stuff for readers and bloggers. Which is like- the ultimate thing for any book nerd!

Of course, those events aren´t for free. The prices for tickets can be from $10 – $400 , depending on which signing event a visitor decides to go to. In my opinion… I´d rather buy books worth 400 smackers than go to an event that costs that much, plus paying for a hotel room and traveling has to be taken under consideration, too- Unless you´re up for snoozing in your car. BUT…I was told that those highly expensive events were totally worth the money ( I shall never find out ).

I´ve been to quite a few book signings in my life but none have left such impressions as the last 2 I´ve visited. That is why I´ll focus on the last 2 bigger book signing events, here, and I´ll compare them.

I´m generally a happy person. I love to laugh and all that. And I´m also ALWAYS under alot of stress ( work, family, household, bla bla bla). When I´m at a signing I like to think I´m treating myself. Taking a break from being a highly responsible adult and having some Morgana-time without my babies actually helps me recharge enegery. I don´t need a 2 week vacation away from the family. A day or even a few hours can also work wonders.

But when I´m surrounded by madness it´s hard to think I´m treating myself in any way. It´s also impossible to enjoy my Morgana-time away from the family when I´m in a room surrounded by nearly 500 women who run around like headless chicks ( who also sporadically scream from the top of their lungs from excitement) That´s not book heaven. It´s definitely not my idea of having a good time.

And that´s exactly what happened at my first romance book event a few years back in London. Crazed women rushing from author table to author table in hopes of spending endless minutes with their favorite authors. It felt like I was in the Mean Girls movie with 100 Regina George clones.

After that unholy event I swore to never attend a romance book signing event ever again. I valued my sanity far too much to deal with another day of chaotic book women.

Years have passed and the nightmare from the past event eventually faded until I spotted an ad for another romance author event. RARE ´17 Berlin.Rare

Berlin? My heart melted. There was a romance book signing in the country I live in! I didn´t have to leave the country to visit a book signing and I could get a hotel room and I could….. Then it hit me. No. I swore I´d never put myself through another round of disappointment. But the author lineup for the RARE ´17 Berlin event was AWESOME! There was no way I could stay away.

After a week of back and forth I decided to give romance book signings another try. Why not, right? It´s been a few years since the last one. Readers / fans change. ( or, I hoped they did ). I wasn´t 100% convinced but I kept thinking happy thoughts. Everything was going to be alright.

After all- who would want to miss out on meeting Jodi Ellen Malpas, Monica James, Lesley Jones, Kandi Steiner, etc, etc? No me.

After a gruesome 5 hour drive from Frankfurt a.M. To Berlin I finally arrived. My hair looked like squirrels tried to braid it ( driving with an open window cannot be recommended) but I didn´t care. I was on a book mission, not trying to win a beauty contest. As long as no one noticed the chocolate stains in the crotch area I was good to go and halfway presentable. ( I do not recommend eating a chocolate croissant while driving on the Autobahn, either )

Needless to say- I arrived looking like a crazed forest witch, ready to spend time and money.

3 hours, 10 signed books and 6000 spoken words later I reached my limit and decided it was time to go home ( because I totally forgot to book a hotel room ). I wanted to spend some quality time with my newest reads!

And guess what? My fear was…gone. I was confronted with peaceful, nice people. The authors were wonderful. Everyone was smiling, chatting and just having a good time. I was shocked beyond belief! Hof was this possible? The last book signing event was a nightmare. Rare ´17 wasn´t. RARE ´17 Berlin was civilized, organized and just a great place to be.

Was I happy? Definitely. The event was a total success for me. Would I visit another RARE book signing?

Yes. I would.

Ticket price 36.87 Euros

Location – Hotel Estrel in Berlin

Author count – Roughly around 60 ( give or take)

Atmosphere-  Friendly

The authors- The ones I was able to meet were such sweethearts.

My biggest regret- Forgetting my hair brush at home. Forgetting to take pics with all the authors I talked to.

My mood from beginning to end-  Excited to happily exhausted.

All in all a wonderful event filled with awesomeness! Until next time, RARE!

And now – let´s take a look at what the forest witch looked like with the awesome authors! Have fun!

Event Monica

Left: Monica James. Author of the `I Surrender` , `Something Like Normal` & the `Hard Love Romance` books. Make sure to stalk her on Social Media!

Event Ashley

 

Right: Katie Ashley. Author of the `Proposition` & `Runaway Train` books.

 

Event Halle

Right: Karina Halle. Author of `The Pact` and `Dirty Angels`books.

 

Event steiner

Left: Kandi Steiner. Author of `Weightless` & `A Love Letter To Whiskey`.

 

Event Malpas

Right: Jodi Ellen Malpas. Author of the `This Man`& `One Night`books.