Review: Off The Map #3, Inside Out by Lia Riley

20805727Blurb from Goodreads

Book #3 in the OFF THE MAP series
New Adult Contemporary Romance

When Talia first moved from California to Australia to study abroad, she never dreamed she’d find the love of her life. Bran understands her like no one ever has before. And despite the numerous challenges they’ve faced, they’ve always managed to figure out how to stay together. But this time they’ll face their toughest hurdle yet. Is their love strong enough to keep them together?

Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published December 2nd 2014 by Forever
edition language: English
series: Off The Map
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.
As the final book of Off The Map series, I think it wasn’t as engaging as the previous books. Most of the time I felt it was too slow and got distracted easy by other things, unlike when I read Upside Down and Sideswiped. And one thing that I really looking forward since Upside Down which I kinda wish will describe more doesn’t happen here. It’s Talia’s OCD. Since book 1 I really liked reading her OCD because somehow I can relate to and it was so believable I want her to feel better from it. But her anxiety here doesn’t even explain more than in Sideswiped.

Yet, if I see it from different angle, I think Talia finally can overcome (?) it slowly but surely with Bran’s help, of course. That was what made me love them even more. Their relationship is so strong and they trust each other. There is nothing can shake their feeling. I just love how they help each other and always know what they need from one and another.

“You matter so much. And what you feel, matters to me.”

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One thing that I didn’t quite like was a feeling that each chapter has similar pattern. It’s kinda repetitive for me. It’s like Talia and Bran’s problems take turn in each chapter. So here I read one chapter about Talia’s issue and Bran tries to help her and then she gets her confidence back in a couple chapters. After that it’s time for Bran to face his problem with Talia convincing him that he’s a worthy man. Just like in Talia’s problem, it needs a few chapters till he gains his confidence back. Then the pattern goes back to Talia before it makes a circle to Bran’s problem again. It happens over and over till the last chapter.

I still think it’s an enjoyable ending, though. Not all of Talia and Bran’s problem are solved completely, some of them are left unsolved. But it is what happens in real life, right? You live your life and solve your problems one at the time and if you have someone along the way, like Bran for Talia and Talia for Bran, then you’re so lucky.

Result: 3 out of 5 stars
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Review: Off The Map #2, Sideswiped by Lia Riley

20762810Blurb from Goodreads

It was only meant to last the summer . . .

Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless NorCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight—because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .

ebook, 384 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Grand Central/Forever
edition language: English
series: Off The Map
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

After I read Upside Down, I thought I couldn’t love Talia and Bran more. But they proved me wrong. They are awesome I feel like I love them even more now.

“I’ll fight for you.” I press my lips to his damp cheek. “I’ll never stop fighting for you.”

Talia, she’s one tough-brave girl. When I read about her mental illness in first few chapters, I thought this sequel is all about it. I love reading about mental illness. Most of them teach me a lot of things, make me see and think differently. So yeah…I liked that both Talia and Bran finally pay more attention to it. At the same time I want it to be described more. I was kinda hope it has bigger part in the story, though it isn’t the main focus of their story. Maybe in next installment? I hope so. One thing I love from Talia is she knows what she wants and she sticks with it. She doesn’t let her love turn her priority. I don’t mean that she doesn’t love Bran enough. I just think that her choice needs guts and yet she stays with it. No one, not even Bran can change her mind. For that I admire her.

Bran, as sweet as he can be, to be honest, I didn’t quite like him. He’s too clingy and made the same mistake as in Upside Down, though I still understand his reasons. His fear in losing Talia makes him holds her tight, barely gives her room for herself. But strangely I also love him too. He feels different than other hero in most of NA books I’ve read. He lets me see his vulnerability without being too emo and mellow. And I just love how in love he is with Talia and his willingness to give everything for her. I guess my romantic side melted with his stubborn love 🙂

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As for the story, I think it’s “deeper” than Upside Down. Talia and Bran’s relationship isn’t easy to deal with. There are so many things that seem keep them away from their happily ever after. From Talia’s visa (at first I thought it would be like Like Crazy movie) to their perspective about love. I liked that it’s told from Talia and Bran’s POV, equally. One chapter from Talia’s POV and then another from Bran’s. It continues like that till the last chapter, unlike in Upside Down which was told mostly from Talia’s POV. This way makes me more understand Bran, about his love and relationship with Talia and also about his family.

However, I also have things that I’m still unclear, undecided whether they are important to the story and have connection with it. And there are things that seem too easy for the characters I wonder whether it’s that easy in real life.

All in all, despite those undecided things, I really enjoyed reading this series. In fact, I couldn’t wait to read book 3, Inside Out which fortunately also will be released this year. So happy I don’t have to wait longer to read Talia and Bran’s journey.
Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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.

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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