Review: Off The Map #1, Upside Down by Lia Riley

18733288Blurb from Goodreads

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.

Kindle Edition, 246 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Forever (first published January 1st 2014)
edition language: English
series: Off The Map
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult

My Thoughts

I know most readers, well…at least most of my fellow bookworms don’t like angsty story. But I have different preference. If the author can mix it with many elements in the story well, with enough amount of it, it can be a perfect ingredient for the story. I think I can say it’s my guilty pleasure, especially in contemporary romance story. This book is the case. Upside Down has enough angst that made me keep reading it. But don’t worry for those who dislike it, other elements in this book also works well.

Bran’s not perfect. Neither am I. And maybe that’s fine. Maybe that’s better than fine. We’re perfect only for the other.


My favorite thing from Talia and Bran’s story is themselves. They have flaws. They aren’t perfect, have baggage that drag their life. Thus, they feel real. I liked the way Talia tells her story, though at first I felt like there was something off. She’s awkward, shy and witty and I loved her. I especially liked whenever she doesn’t understand and/or misunderstand Aussie phrases because I was kinda lost in translation too, reading those words. I also felt like she held everything back. But the more I read the more I liked her. I can connect to her easily, including to her anxiety and OCD. As for Bran, he’s a man with few words with a lot of anger to himself. I didn’t quite like he keeps his life’s story hidden from Talia while at the same time he seems to know most of her past life. I think it doesn’t fair for her, though I understand why he does it. But he’s also sweet and I can see that he care a lot about her. I mostly liked the way he pays attention to every single thing she does.

Although there’s an insta-attraction between the two of them, I didn’t think that they fall in an insta-love. They relationship happens slowly. They give time to know and understand each other. It’s the way I like, by the way.

However, I felt the end of the story was a bit rushed. As Talia’s time to fly back to the State approaches, I felt like the drama and angst in their story was forced so that they have something to argue or let’s say as their final obstacle in their relationship. I didn’t make me think less of this book, though. In fact, it seems I just couldn’t get enough of their story. I’m heading to book 2, Sideswiped now.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars


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