Thursday, 2 October 2014

Review: Upside Down by Lia Riley

***** 5 Stars

I was browsing NetGalley for new authors and this cover just leapt out of the page and ordered me to request it. Thankfully my request was approved because this is one of the best books that I have read all year

The Blurb

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.

My Thoughts

Oh where to start with this book, there are just so many wonderful things about it. First off I loved Lia Riley's writing style and secondly this book totally surprised me, it wasn't at all what I expected. It was the cover that really appealed to me but right from page one I was totally captivated by Talia and her story.

Talia is our heroine. She is 21, living in California and still reeling from the death of her older sister made especially worse by the fact that she believes it was her fault. She struggles with everything, she is falling behind at college, her OCD has become way worse since losing her sister and she really isn't sure what to do next. Then she makes an incredibly brave decision and deciding she wants a fresh start she moves to Melbourne, Australia to complete a semester and hopefully get herself back on track. What she wasn't planning on was meeting an angry koala one day named, Bran Lockhart? He is totally the type of boy that she should stay away from. You are going to have to read the book to see what I mean by koala as it is one of the most hilarious meetings I have ever read.

Bran Lockhart is our hero and he is a boy not a koala :) Oh be still my beating heart. Bran just might be the man of my dreams. A long time Home & Away addict and a huge fan of the River Boys makes me fall for Bran even harder. He is good looking with a brooding nature, he is a surfer with an air of mystery, he comes across as a player but in reality he is protecting his already wounded heart. He has suffered the ultimate heartbreak and has sworn never to fall in love again. Then he bumps into Talia and there is just something about her that means he can't keep away, she brings out a totally different side of him.

Bran & Talia are total opposites but that is what makes them work as a couple. They both fight their feelings for each other perhaps drawn to each other by the tragedies that have stuck them both. Bran recognises Talia's pain from the off and is drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

Both characters are flawed largely by events that have been beyond their control and also by their messed up families. Talia's parents split after her sister died and now her mum is offing chasing the dream in Hawaii with her toyboy boyfriend. Bran has always had issues with his parents particularly father, he's from a wealthy family but has always shied away from that not doing what is expected of him. The fact that both characters are so flawed makes them much more real, the fact that they are not perfect and both have their own issues makes them so much easier to identify with.

Talia is a very complex character. She is a unique and quirky heroine, I totally love how Lia Riley makes her grow as a person within the book, she has an awkwardness about her and a naiviety but when she meets Bran she really begins to find herself and develop as a character.

Bran is a truly amazing leading man. I loved everything about him in this book. Underneath all his tough guy persona he really is a sweetie and the most perfect match for Talia, especially as he sees far deeper into her than she can see herself. 

The story is told from both Talia's and Bran's points of view and it is great to get their different perspectives. What I loved most about this book is that it is not just your traditional boy meets girl, fall in love and live happily ever after. As a couple and individually Bran & Talia face so many obstacles and there are just so many layers to the plot and this is only book one in the series so we are only just scratching the surface.

Talia and Bran have plenty of the inevitable ups and downs. Each one of them being very careful about protecting their hearts and not really allowing themselves to fall. But oh boy when they fall what a fall it is! Upside Down truly took me on a roller coaster of emotions, one moment I was laughing, the next I was moved to tears. The book was packed with so much raw emotion and heartbreak but Lia Riley balanced this perfectly with her wonderful sense of humour which really shines through in the book.

The genre of New Adult is a fairly recent find for me & this book is certainly up their with the best and Lia Riley has been elevated to one of my favourite authors. At the end we are left wondering where Lia is going to take us with the next book, surely she isn't going to let it end with the fairytale happily ever after. Not long left to find out as Side Swiped book 2 in the Off The Map series is out very soon & boy what a read that is. Review to follow very soon.

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