Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blog Tour: Trusting You and Other Lies by Nicole Williams

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USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Nicole Williams delivers a seductive summer romance worth swooning over. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins.

Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years--do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum--the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out--and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

4 stars
Review by Trinette Dungee

Phoenix is going into her senior year in high school and rather than spending her summer like she imagined, hanging with friends and pretty much doing nothing, she’s spending it at a family summer camp. While at the camp she is hired to be a counselor and she meets Callum. A self-proclaimed reformed bad-boy, Callum’s had a rough go at life and the only bright times seemed to be the time he spends at the camp. He’s totally hot and Phoenix can’t quite seem to figure him out. With her feeling like the motives of everyone in her life right now are questionable at best, she’s not sure if she should really trust Callum or not.
Phoenix is struggling with some serious trust issues. Her dad lost his job a few years ago and while she’s aware that there may be some financial struggles she’s shocked to find out how bad they really are when she comes across a foreclosure notice. Her parents have yet to mention this to her, they don’t seem to be telling her any about their situation, they don’t seem to be getting along, but yet they pretend that nothing is wrong. So now, in her eyes, her parents are “liars” and not trust-worthy. The only person in her life that she’s okay with at this point is her little brother Harry. Harry was quite cute and I really liked him (his sister, not so much). 
I’m going to be honest, reading the description of this book I wasn’t eager to read it, couple that with the age of the characters and I definitely was hesitant but I decided to give it a try. After the first page or so, I truly thought I was going to have to just give up. Not because the book wasn’t grabbing me but because I instantly disliked Phoenix. She came off as spoiled, bratty and self-centered…not at all different than most teenagers, but something about her just really grated my nerves. But, I decided to go on and give it the old college try. 
This book kind of hit close to home and when a book does that, you are either going to LOVE it or HATE it. Well, let’s just say this book and I have a love/hate relationship right now!
I was angry at our parents. For screwing up and dragging Harry and me into it. As far as I was concerned, they’d dug their hole all by themselves. Why did Harry and I have to fall into it with them? It wasn’t fair
Reading this literally almost sent me over the edge. Seriously, I had to put the kindle down and walk away. UHG, this kid!  I couldn’t understand why I was having such a visceral reaction to this kid, and then it hit me. So like I mentioned before, this book hit close to home for me on the parent’s side; being a single mom and having lost a job one of my biggest worries was letting my kids down and trying to keep things as normal for them as possible. Part of that came by way of “protecting” them as much as possible about how bad things were or had gotten.  With that being said, Phoenix’s little statement was a little hurtful. Very rarely does a parent deliberately “screw up and drag” their kids into anything when they are struggling. I’m all for kids understanding some aspect of what’s going on in a household, but I don’t feel obligated to give you a complete rundown. While I get that Phoenix is a kid, she’s also almost eighteen years, old enough to know that well…..shit happens! I gave her a little bit of a pass because she was probably pretty sheltered and used to life being easy so it may have been a shock, but still her attitude sucked. 
The relationship with Callum and Phoenix was a bit weird at times. They both wanted that one person they could confide in but at the same time, they were hesitant to do so. Callum’s backstory was pretty interesting and I think I felt like he “got it”. He understood what it was like to have to have something happen in your life that causes you to stop and re-evaluate, change your course and I really wanted Phoenix to get it too. I had to remind myself that while I wanted Phoenix to “get it”, I had to realize that she and Callum came from totally different backgrounds, he wasn’t as sheltered as she was and he’d been dealing with disappointments pretty much his whole life. Of course right when I thought I was okay with her, Phoenix managed to tick me off in how she was so willing to give Callum’s mother a total pass for obstacles/hurdles/hard-times she endured.  
I could only imagine the strength it took to raise two boys alone in California, a state not exactly known for its stellar cost of living.
My first thought after reading that; “Are you freaking kidding me?! You don’t know this woman from a can of paint, never laid an eye on her! You’re not even sure if the story you’re getting from Callum is an accurate depiction of her and you feel sorry for her!”; Yep, another reaction where I had to put the kindle down and woo-sah. I had to yet again remind myself that this was a young adult; she was looking at things from a totally different perspective than your many years of experience. 
So about my love/hate relationship with this book; what I hated about this book, was that it took me back to a very difficult time in my life, it made me think about how my kids may or may not have looked at me when times were extremely tough…had I failed them, were they disappointed in me, were they embarrassed by me?...Yeah, I didn’t like reliving that. What I loved about this book, it took me back to a very difficult time in my life that I can proudly say I survived…we survived and while there are still struggles and things aren’t as good as they use to be, we are okay. It made me think about how my kids may have wanted to know certain things, how they may have needed to know certain things. It made me realize that in order to truly prepare my kids for the real world, they need to experience “real experiences” you can’t protect them from all of the bad stuff; life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, it’s filled with lots of disappointments and obstacles and they have to learn how to cope and bounce back. 
This book confirmed something for me; I think we need to give your kids the benefit of the doubt and not try to protect them from every little thing. It is okay for them to know that life is hard and sometimes you struggle. But at the end of the day, I’m the parent; it is my job to raise, protect and provide for you. I don’t have to divulge every little thing to you and I don’t need your “approval”.  I do the best I can with what I have to make you happy and comfortable and to raise you to be compassionate, empathetic, sympathetic, productive members of society and not total jerks. 

Now it might seem that I’m coming off a little hard on poor Phoenix, but I can’t not reflect on how much this girl grew up by the end of the book; toward the end it was clear that she could she, she was expecting things from people that she wasn’t really giving and in the end I realized and had to admit that like Phoenix, I’d grown quite a bit from my experiences.  So all this thinking, accepting and realization lead me to a four star read. 

It felt like hardly any time had passed at all before the bike slowed when we made it into Flagstaff. Callum took a sudden turn that led away from the main part of the city, and we weren’t on that road long before it opened up into a parking lot.
My arms tightened around him when I scanned the parking lot. Other than the bike’s headlight, I couldn’t make out any-thing else.
“Okay, we’re stopped now. Think you could ease up your death grip on me before you crush my liver?” He parked the bike and turned off the engine.
It was so quiet out here. Scary quiet. “Where are we?” I loosened my grip, but I didn’t let go.
He glanced at me over his shoulder. “Don’t you like a surprise?”
“Not when I’m in the middle of some dark parking lot late at night.”
Callum fought a smile. “It’s barely eight. Not quite the witching hour.”
An owl hooted from somewhere in the woods. I jumped. “Where the hell are we?”
He stopped fighting his smile. “The Lowell Observatory. Perfectly safe and nonthreatening, I swear.”
“What are we observing?”
Callum waited for my arms to drop at my sides before sliding off the bike. “Pretty much anything you want to up there.” He tipped his head and looked up at the sky.
My head followed. “The stars? That’s what we’re going to be looking at?”
“Stars, moons, planets. Take your pick.” He helped me undo the helmet’s chin strap after I fought with it on my own for a few seconds. “This is one of my favorite places.”
“In Arizona?”
“Anywhere,” he answered, pulling a small flashlight from his pocket and turning it on. He pointed it in the direction of a sidewalk and started toward it, making sure I was close beside him.
“How many times have you been here?” I asked.
“I come a few times every summer, more when I was coming here with my family.”
I kept my focus on the light in front of us. With that bright beam, the black didn’t seem so thick around us.
“So are you into astronomy?” I asked.
“You could say that.” When another owl hooted, I didn’t leap out of my boots. This time I barely flinched. Callum’s presence calmed me. “But I didn’t know it the first time I came. I only started getting into astronomy a few years ago.”
“Why did you first start coming here?” We were getting closer to what I guessed was the observatory, but nothing about it screamed tourist attraction.
“It was Ben’s idea, I guess. He knew about the trouble my brother was getting into at home and that I was following in his footsteps. He has this freaky way of looking at a person and knowing what they’re feeling or what they’re thinking. Those first couple of summers at camp he used to be able to take one look at me and know when I was about to do something I’d probably regret.” He paused and shook his head. “I really hated Ben at first.”
“And now you love him.” I nudged him as we approached a doorway.
“And now I respect him. I appreciate what he’s doing and why he does it.” He turned off the flashlight and held open the door for me.
“So your mom would bring you here to look up at the sky and your problems were solved?”
He chuckled softly. “That’s what Ben tried to sell. He said there was nothing like looking up at the universe to make my problems shrivel into nonexistence.”
“Is that doubt I’m detecting in your voice?”
“That’s I- know- better- from- experience in my voice.” Callum
waved at a lady sitting behind a counter at the front and led me inside. It was dark in here, too, which made me shift a bit closer to Callum. “Ben tried really hard to sell me on the perspective thing, but, I don’t know, looking up at the stars or thinking about the size of the universe didn’t make my issues seem any smaller or less significant. They were still the exact same size when I walked out of this place.”
“Then why did you keep coming back?” I asked as he stopped behind the biggest telescope I’d seen in real life.
“Because it got me out of my head, you know?” he answered immediately. “It got me to focus on something else for a while, and even though I’d leave here with the same problems I walked in with, they felt more manageable. More like I could handle them.”
I hadn’t expected him to open up like that. That was becoming a trend when it came to Callum. One minute he came off as the most closed- off person I’d ever met, and the next he could spill his guts. “And then you fell in love with the stars,” I said, watching him as he looked through the telescope, making a few adjustments on the dials.
“And then I did.” He made one last adjustment before motioning me to look. Even though it was dark, his eyes were glowing. I’d seen him in his element this summer, but never like this. If this wasn’t passion, I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen it.
“So you’re saying this place has played a totally insignifi-cant role in your life?” I smiled at him as I moved up to the telescope.
“Completely insignificant.” He stepped aside to give me room to look.
I wound my hair around one shoulder, closed one eye, and leaned over so I could peek through the eyepiece. I could have been looking at a star just as easily as I could have been looking at a planet or a moon. I didn’t feel my problems drifting away from me by the masses, disappearing into the Milky Way, but just like Callum had said, somehow they felt less overwhelming. Less powerful.
The longer I stared up there, the stronger I felt down here. “I get it,” I whispered after another minute, feeling like the entire universe was staring back at me as I gazed into it.
He took a step closer. “I knew you would.”

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.


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