Upside Down by Lia Riley | Review

October 6, 2014 Book Reviews 11 ★★★★

Upside Down by Lia Riley | ReviewUpside Down by Lia Riley
Series: Off the Map #1
Published by Forever on August 5th 2014
Pages: 384
Format: eArc
Source: NetGalley

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.

When I read the blurb for UPSIDE DOWN and saw it was set in Australia I knew for sure this was a must-read. Having been raised on a solid diet of Australian Soap-Operas (If you’re Irish or from the UK you’re probably nodding your head right now), a book set in the sun-soaked paradise was always going to be a big draw.

UPSIDE DOWN is one of the most refreshing New Adult novels I’ve read in recent months and Lia’s story of two broken souls overcoming their pain and finding hope was one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Talia is in freefall, grieving the loss of her sister and failing school, she jumps at the chance of an exchange programme to Australia to try and forget her worries for once. Arriving in Melbourne, she runs into Bran – hot, brooding and oh so grumpy – sparks fly and both Bran and Talia sinking under the weight of their respective emotional trauma can’t help but recognise that they may be each other’s life buoy if only they can take the leap and trust again.

Reading the blurb I admit part of me dismissed UPSIDE DOWN as another same ol’ same ol’ NA but Lia’s fabulous witty, fresh and heartfelt take on the genre makes this book one special read.

I loved Talia – She’s been through so much, carrying the guilt of believing she’s responsible for the death of her sister and parents who have taken the ostrich approach to life, she feels lost and alone. A fresh start in Melbourne is the one bright light in her life right now and she takes the plunge. When she meets Bran she can’t help but feel a connection with the snarky surfer. Bran is not interested in love, having barely survived heartbreak in the last year, the one thing he doesn’t want is to get pulled under again but Talia slowly breaks through his defences.

UPSIDE DOWN deals with some heavy issues including that of OCD which I admit I groaned at when I first came across it in the book as I’ve seen it mishandled so often in NA but I loved Lia’s take on it and thought she handled it with great understanding and sensitivity. I loved how Bran recognised Talia’s issue almost immediate but instead of calling her out as a weirdo as so many others had made her feel, subtly helped her and made her feel at ease.

While there is definitely an emotional element to the book it is balanced with a wonderful, warm humour and I loved the lighter moments between Bran and Talia sprinkled throughout the story. There’s also some pretty sizzling chemistry between the two and boy does Lia Riley know how to write her smut!

I really liked how the story flowed, the pacing never faltered and the writing was so wonderfully descriptive and I really got a sense of both the Australian and Southern Californian settings.

UPSIDE DOWN was a fabulous read, filled with wonderful, realistic characters, a romance that will make you swoon and rich and vivid writing that will sweep you away on Talia and Bran’s emotional story!


11 Responses to “Upside Down by Lia Riley | Review”

  1. lily

    Oh this one sounds like cute a cute contemporary! You have me wanting to start reading this one ASAP! Love the sound of it 🙂

  2. Jessica@Lovin' Los Libros

    I really enjoyed this one too. 🙂 I just finished Sideswiped, the second book, and while I didn’t like it as much as the first, I am still looking forward to finishing out the series. Great review hun!

    • Danielle

      So glad you liked this one too. I read your review of Sideswiped so at least I’m prepared for the drama, as long as we get our HEA is the main thing!!!

  3. Giselle

    I’ve always liked books set in Australia, too, I’ve never book so I kind of like traveling vicariously through book settings haha! I’ve seen this one around before and it looks really good. It sounds like it mixes the emotional and light content well, and I like that it seems to introduce an often misunderstood topic like OCD and does it well. Great review, Danielle!

    • Danielle

      Yes! I totally love to travel vicariously through books too especially these days since I’m so broke! 😉 It definitely has a good balance to it between the emotional stuff and the more fun, lighter side of things which is great in NA as it can be overwhelmingly angsty!

  4. Jasprit

    This book sounds like a great read Danielle! I can totally get why you would want to give this book a go, (I used to binge watch Neighbours and Home and Away all the time too!). I’m also glad that the author was able to give you something extra compared to a lot of the NA books already out there. Thank you for putting this book on my radar! 🙂

    • Danielle

      Lol I have the theme tune to H&A rolling around in my head as I type this. Australia was definitely a cool setting and always fun to have something different. I think you’d enjoy this series for sure!

  5. Rachel @ Paper Cuts

    Well, you sold me! The idea of a book set in Australia certainly appeals, but I love the sound of a NA that’s not cliche and the humor even more. I will definitely be checking this out! 🙂 Great review!!

  6. Alicia

    i’ve only read one book set in australia (zac & mia by a.j.betts) and i don’t mind more! i myself have a shaky understanding of OCD, and it’ll be nice to see how upside down sheds some light on it. i especially love it when ya books aren’t only about cute couples like some misinformed members of the public think!

    • Danielle

      Me too! I like it when books are more “real” and true to life rather than giving a fairy tale slant. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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