Friday, June 23, 2017

Review & Excerpt: Trusting You & Other Lies - Nicole Williams

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?

5 Stars
I love young adult and new adult novels, I don't think there is an age limit on your genre tastes, so I can safely say I am a massive, one-click fan of Sarah Dessen. Nicole Williams' Trusting You & Other Lies is of the same caliber, that is to say, amazing. In recent years I have read far more adult novels, but this new release made me remember why I love YA/NA reads so much. The feelings, the endless possibilities, the lessons we learn at that age that remain relevant even as we age, they are all in this book and then some. Plus, it helps that the cover is stunning, eye catching, and bears the name of Nicole Williams; she's an author guaranteed to give you a good story with fantastic dialogue and riveting prose. 

"I didn't do boy-crazy, I reminded myself. I didn't do weak-kneed and tongue-tied and starry-eyed. I did Miss Independent. I did my won thing. I did guys-were-a-nice-perk-but-not-the-pinnacle. That was my MO."

Phoenix and her parents haven't been in a good place for two years, she knows they're keeping secrets. Forced to spend the summer before her senior year at a family summer camp, Phoenix is anything, but happy. The only saving grace is her brother Harrison, his happiness is more important. She's using the time to work as a counselor and save money to buy a car so she can leave her family and all their problems behind. When she finds out that her trainer is the tough, but warm counselor known as Callum she thinks things might just perk up a little, that she'd even have a friend during the mess. What she doesn't count on is her part in number of camp incidents and their trust slowly dwindling away even as their friendship evolves into something more.

"I didn't really know him at all, but I could already tell Callum wasn't your typical guy. I like that about him. Or i respected that about him, because - I reminded myself- there was nothing I should "like" when it came to Callum."

Trusting You & Other Lies took me back to my summer vacations from school, I was a massive fan of summer camp, but Phoenix's other issues felt like my own. Secrets kept by parents are hard, as a teen you are already a jumble of emotions, but being forced to endure a summer of family bonding, even though there is no bond to work on? Even harder. Phoenix is a tough character, we're only aware of her general unhappiness with her family, her absolute hatred of spending her summer away from her friends, and that she relies on morning runs to get her through everything. Even her take on no boys becomes muddied once she meets Callum. He challenges her, he makes her face his trust issues, though he struggles to face his own. Through first meeting, to first accident, and all the way to the very end, they share this connection that neither is prepared to confess to. I loved Callum, his history, and every single page that he showed up on. He's the boy you wouldn't probably pick first to fall for, but once you do he's everything you ever wanted, even if you didn't know it. He and Phoenix have a rocky friendship, a blossoming young relationship, and a shared lesson in trust, forgiveness, and self-love. Phoenix's family though, their issues require some extensive digging to work through. There's no easy way to be a parent, there's no easy way to be a kid, and Nicole Williams did a stunning job showing just how frustrating it is to be at that middle age where you're still a teen, but on the cusp of adulthood.

"I couldn't look at him. I could barely talk to him. I was just so angry at him and circumstances and...I was just so, so angry."

It's a cute, summer read that tackles relevant topics for teens, but in a way that doesn't take over the story. I loved the activities, the interactions, every single bit of dialogue, and Harry is the cutest child I've ever met in a book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me want to read all of my favorite summer-y YA books again. There's extensive character development and every character, even the most minor one, like her dad, show growth through out the novel. Just as rivers do, Phoenix's family life had roaring rapids to it, but the calm peace could be found along it too. Trusting You & Other Lies is a coming of age story that readers of all ages can pick up and relate to, whether from nostalgia or present experience. It made me want to be a teen again, to experience those butterflies again, and even to learn those hard lessons that make youth something we all look back on.

"When he was kissing me, it was easy to forget that summer would come to an end."

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.”

AP  new -about the author.jpg
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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