Friday, August 8, 2014

Blog Tour: Upside Down by Lia Riley (Review & Giveaway)

Title: Upside Down
Author: Lia Riley
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Series: Off the Map #1
Publication: August 5th, 2014 by Grand Central

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.


It's always nice when a New Adult story can take the things I love about NA and be twisted into a new novel that I end up loving. Upside Down had all the things I'm used to seeing in the genre--romance, girl with some kind of an issue that makes her actually pretty easy to relate to even though you may not have experienced the same exact thing she did, a guy who used to be...over friendly with a crap ton of girls, and both of the main characters have pasts full of heartbreak and pain. The awesome thing about Upside Down was that it took all of those things, and it all got twisted into a story that didn't FEEL run of the mill. And oh sweet baby goodness, I ended up falling for this story, head over heels.

Talia has OCD. Like, actual OCD. Not the OCD moments we all have at some point. I'm talking legitimate it-messes-with-her-everyday-life-on-a-regular-basis OCD. (Fun fact, that's how you know if you have a disorder. We all have tendencies--but disorders are recognized by interfering with your every day life.) I personally do not have OCD. But I, just like every other person on this planet, have things I struggle with every day. Is my own thing as serious as Talia's? No. But still, I could understand. It also helped that the writing was done so well, that the understanding I already had for OCD took on a more close-up view, being inside Talia's head and all. So yeah. Talia has OCD, and I loved how it made her feel more REAL to me, and I liked how that tied into the story. Other than that, Talia was a pretty gutsy chick. I'd hang out with her any day. And her sense of humor actually made me laugh more than once, which is never a bad sign. 

Bran...oh, Bran. He has his issues. He has his past, and he has trouble adjusting to how things change when Talia comes around. He didn't start out as the most charming fellow, but as the story progressed, his sweeter side peeked out more and more until it was basically his natural state. I very much enjoyed watching that evolution in him. Both he and Talia grew so much throughout this novel, and if I hadn't already loved Bran and Talia (which I totally did), I would have become a fan by the time this story ended.

The romance was so great. Bran and Talia get off to a somewhat rocky start, but they have this connection right away. And instead of jumping into insta-love (seriously, they are both the exact opposite of insta-love), they talk. They learn more about each other. And we get to see them open up more to each other and learn about each other, and grow closer. It was quite beautiful.

One of the coolest things about this novel is that it's set in Australia. I liked seeing that different setting and everything that came with it. That setting, paired with the little twists in the story I'd figured could very possibly echo the same stories I've read before, created a book I turned out to enjoy greatly. There were a few things that nagged on me--such as how unstable Bran and Talia's relationship felt for a larger portion of the book than I'd prefer, and the time...or two...I wished to slap Bran. Also, the jealous feeling I got at a certain part. I did not like that. It was highly effective in adding to all the feels going on in that cluster of crap going on, which added to make the story unique, but I am still not much of a fan of feeling that way. And while I enjoyed the dual POV, as I always do, I would have liked more from Bran's perspective. He was going through so much, and while we did get a decent glimpse of that, I wanted to see MORE. Though part of the reason for that may have something to do with the fact that I heart him. ;)

Overall, Upside Down is a beautiful New Adult story that came with some surprises. I loved Bran and Talia, and enjoyed how real their characters felt. I rode the roller coaster of this novel with them, and I cannot wait to go on another ride with them in the next book! 

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Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult Romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling XXXX with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments. 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 in Northern California.

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