Thursday, May 14, 2015

Upside Down (Off the Map, #1) by Lia Riley [Review + Giveaway]

Now Available in Paperback (Forever Trade) - May 12, 2015

If you never get lost, you'll never be found…

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she'll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He's never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.

4 Down Under Stars
Upside Down is part of the Off the Map series.  Upside Down can be read as a standalone, but the characters do continue into the series.
Upside Down reminds me a lot of Jessica Sorensen reads. It’s emotional, there’s a lot of angst, and it has young characters and a lot of drama. And you kind of want to pull your hair out sometimes.
It’s really addictive. You will want to read it in one sitting.
Natalia (Talia) is a mess. She’s dealing with her sister’s death.  Her mom is kind of crazy and Talia just wants to get away. She decides to go to Australia for six months. She wants to escape and just figure things out.
Brandon (Bran) is a mess. He’s not a nice guy. He likes to use girls and he doesn’t want a relationship. He even tells girls he isn’t a nice guy. And believe me, Bran IS.NOT.A.NICE.GUY.  Bran has issues too. We don’t know what they are, but it kind of made Bran build a wall around himself.
Talia and Bran meet and things get out of control.
Upside Down isn’t an easy read.  There’s a lot of inner character conflict.  Meaning, Talia and Bran have a lot of character flaws. Are they redeeming? I am not sure, but does it make for an enticing read? You bet it does.
Talia has OCD. You kind of have to have an open mind about this disease.  It’s not her main character flaw, but it’s apparent. I do like that that the whole book isn’t about this, but I do feel for her. I understand Talia and her issues. What I liked most about Talia is that yes, she has problems, but it doesn’t define her. She kind of takes it one day at a time.
Bran isn’t your typical Hero. He’s completely mean and a little self-absorbed.  I wouldn’t call him an anti-Hero, but just a really tough one to love. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. He tries really hard to warn Talia and not to be with him, but as things move forward Bran starts to warm up. He doesn’t say overly flowery things. Sometimes I had to re-read his dialogue because I couldn’t believe he said half the things he said to Talia. His character is very real. He’s a real boy with messed up issues and as much as he cares for Talia, she can’t fix him.
I liked Upside Down because of the drama. There’s tons of it and the characters are hard to love. I know it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes these are the kinds of books I crave when I’m in that mood. I did pull my hair out at times, I did question if I would love Bran and I wonder if Talia was strong enough. But when I finished I realized I got what I wanted. I got a messed-up story and it left me with a pleasing feeling.
If that is what you are in the mood for, then I recommend.
An ARC was provided

“A few meters more, you’re almost there.”

It’s like we’re at the end of some old-school adventure tale, one where the heroes are stoic even as the blizzard rages, avalanches fall, and death hovers like a benevolent ghost.

Well, Bran is the hero.

I’m like one of the minor sidekicks who goes down during some important turning point. My death might even inspire the hero on his journey or teach him a valuable lesson. But at this point in the flick, the minor sidekick should be well and truly dead. Not white-knuckling a column of dolerite rock, thighs gripping the stone like it’s the world’s best lover.

“That’s it, Talia,” Bran’s voice is encouraging. “You’re holding tight, that’s great. Now, I’m going to need you to release your left hand and reach up a few inches to grab the next hold.”

I grit my teeth. The way he talks, you’d think I’m scaling Everest. Or at least Kilimanjaro. Instead—
“’Scuse, us, we’ll be by in a tic. That’s the way, Andy, right around the lady.”

I’m the lady. Andy is a kid who doesn’t look a day over seven who scrambles past me in a flurry of Spider-Man shoes and gap-toothed smiles. His parents bring up the rear, smiling up at their wild monkey child with obvious pride.

And they aren’t the first group to pass me.

Five Swedish women, a couple, and a guy who looked to be in his mid-seventies have also shot past me during the course of the last quarter hour.

The top is so close I can taste it. Bran is being nothing but encouraging, but below me is a twenty-foot drop. Not enough to kill me, unless I fall with some sort of suicidal intent, but enough to make me feel incredibly uneasy about the boulder field.

Bran eases toward me. “Talia, take my hand.”

“Can’t let go.”


“No.” This is it; this is the reason. Bran isn’t going to admit it here, while I’m bordering on a panic attack on a trail being conquered by elementary school children and senior citizens, but there’s no doubt this is A REASON to lose interest in me. I’m giving him a big capital-lettered reason, but I can’t stop. I physically can’t let go.

“Talia. Take a deep breath.”

“Breath taken.”



“Give me your hand, no bullshit. I want your fingers in mine. You’ll be safe. I’m going to keep you safe. I need you to trust me.”

Somehow I do it. I give him my fingers. He assists me up. We’re doing this together. My head clears the boulder and I can see the steel marker that identifies the summit ahead. Holy shit, he’s right. I’m going to reach the top.

A few more steps, easy now, and we’re there. The kid in the Spider-Man shoes munches a Vegemite sandwich. I want to scoop him up in a smooshy squeeze. Except his parents would likely object, so I switch gears to give Bran a long and passionate kiss.

“I knew you’d get here,” he says.

“I didn’t.”

He turns me to see the view, his hands tight around my waist. “Your place is here, Captain, in the sun,” he whispers in my ear. “Don’t ever forget that.”


Upside Down #1 -
Side Swiped #2 -
Inside Out #3 -
Carry Me Home #3.1 (Novella) 

Upside Down Purchasing Links
Amazon - B&N - Kobo -  BAM! - iBooks - GooglePlay

After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c'mon, who doesn't love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

There will be a second paperback giveaway on my Facebook Page


  1. Great review. I like emotional, angst filled books. This sounds like one I'd enjoy.

  2. Great review! Just added it to my TBR list and I can't wait to read it!!

  3. Great Review! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sounds great! Would love to win this.

  5. Maria Theresa SantosMay 14, 2015 at 9:47 PM

    thanks for thec hance

  6. Great Review....Can't wait to read!! Thanks for the chance. ~Michelle T.

  7. Thanks so much for the chance! Liked/ commented/ shared on Twitter and already liked Lias page. Loved this book!! :)