Book Review: Upside Down by Lia Riley


New Adult, rx Contemporary, this site Romance


384 pages

Part of a Series?:

Book #1 of the Off the Map series

Release Date: 

August 5th, buy more about 2014

You Can Find the Book At:


Barnes and Noble

Book Depository


Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

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 Review:

I’m not going to lie. It took me awhile to get into this novel. My friends and I recently started our own little version of a book club, and this was my choice for the club. It caught my eye at Target and it had a blurb from JLA, who I adore so much, so I decided to read it. I ended up really really liking this book but I must admit, it took me a bit to get into it.

It starts off slow and I think that’s the problem with it. I have a hard time connecting with Talia right away and I’m not sure why that is is. She’s similar to me in ways and she lives in California, in a part of California that I’ve been lucky enough to visit, and, funnily enough, is the basis for the fictional town that I’ve created for my own NA series. Its not until she’s in Australia, going to school, and still struggling with the things she tried to escape in California…that’s when I finally connect with her. She’s sort of run away from her problems but her problems have followed her and the book becomes about her facing them head on and that’s when I finally got hooked. Her struggles, her insecurities, her anxiety and OCD….that is when she became a real person to me.

Then enter Bran. Who, by the way, is sexy as hell, and now I really want to go to Australia and meet a tortured Australian boy who will show me an amazing time in bed. Moving on, I adore his character. I love the tortured boy thing a lot and we know there’s a lot going on there with Bran and its frustrating but it only makes you love him more. He has trust issues, he’s had his heart broken before and he obviously has this connection with Talia but he’s unwilling to just take the plunge.

The two of them have a lot to deal with it, especially when it comes to the past. When they connect together, it takes a lot of time and a lot of push and pull, but they eventually are able to open up to each other and share their struggles and become closer because of it. Their romance is beautiful and heartbreaking all the way to the last page. I didn’t realize that this was a series and even though the ending of this book is absolutely beautiful, I know there’s much more that these two have to go through in the future and I can’t wait to dive into book two and read more about them.


3.75 out of 5 Stars

Book of the Week: The Casual Vacancy

Hello my nerd friends! It’s Friday, pills which means its that time again, its time for book of the week!

Now, for those of you who aren’t quite sure what that is, or just can’t seem to grasp the idea, you can definitely check out the FIRST EVER Book of the Week, which was posted last week. This is my new weekly segment on WhataNerdGirlSays, and between me and my darling, beautiful and ever so talented friend/fellow blogger, Jackie, we’re gonna bring you some awesome, and maybe not so awesome, books.

Please Please Please keep in mind that any and all Book of the Week posts (and other blog posts) will contain spoilers. I try my best to keep them out as much as possible but they are going to be there.

So let’s get down to business. The book of the week for this week is:

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

So, literally after going to FOUR different Target stores to find this book because people just didn’t seem to grasp the concept that this was the first adult novel from possibly the greatest writer of our time and the first novel from J.K. Rowling since the publishing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007, I finally got this book, went home, sat down and consumed it in about five hours.

I read fast. Really really fast. I read Deathly Hallows in about five hours. I know, I’m a bit of a freak. Moving along now…

This is J.K. Rowling’s first book since Harry Potter. And its her first adult book as well. Its been five years since we’ve had that amazing feeling of new words from her. This was a highly anticipated book, and the title, the cover, the plot…all of these were speculated for months and months.

And now that I’m finished, I’m ready to share. I realize most of the world has probably not read this as fast as me haha but I am willing to share anyway and its my hope that you will enjoy this post once you have read it!

So the basic plot is this: it centers around the small town of Pagford. Pagford has that sort of nose in the air, head in a bubble sort of view of their town. Their town is the center of the universe. They are proud of every little nook and cranny in that town, even the old crumbly 12th century abbey overlooking the town. And there is a sort of hate when it comes to the neigboring town of Yarvil. The people of Yarvil are different, different accents and definitely different social class and the people of Pagford just don’t deal with that sort of thing.

Years ago, before the events of this book take place, Yarvil built more and more homes, to help accomodate the growing population. One of the sections of homes that were built were called the Fields. Now the Fields were not your luxury homes; they were mostly owned by those who didn’t have the means to take care of themselves, those who were on welfare, those who had addictions and now had close access to the rehab center. Because of politics and all that, the Fields and the rehab center bcomes part of Pagford and its jurisdiction. Obviously this does bode well in the Pagford mindset; the Fields needs to be returned to Yarvil and the rehab center needs to come down.

Fast forward many years later to Barry Fairbrother, born and raised in the Fields, who is on the Pagford Parish council and is fighting tooth and nail to keep the Fields in Pagford because of the opportunities that Pagford has given him. After his sudden death (which literally happens in the first chapter), there is an empty seat on the council, a seat that is vitally important in this huge debate about the Fields. As the whole town literally gets involved in this seat battle, you get a glimpse inside this perfect town and how completely imperfect it really is.

The Good or the Bad: 

Now I’m going to say mostly good. I liked it a lot. It caught me right off the bat and kept me interested the entire time. I finished it in about five to six hours so you know that it kept me interested.

Now, one, I do NOT at all recommend this for children. I’d say…a mature sixteen and up for this book. Sorry, little Potter fans, this is NOT a book made for you. Our Rowling’s writings have grown up immensely in this book. We’re talking about the fact that this book is riddled with “F” bombs and the dropping of the “C” word and there is no shortage of sex. (Not like Fifty Shades of Grey here, people. JKR writes realistically!). So just because it has her name on the cover, doesn’t mean its for everyone. Its dark. Very funny, but dark.

I loved the way it bounced between characters. It was all written in third person, which was great, because you were able to see different points of view of the different people in town, but still have those gaps when you didn’t quite know what was going on.

I enjoyed the role of the teenagers in this book. When you’re reading them, you’re not really aware of why they’re there. Its, like, okay, they’re doing teenager stuff and they’re thinking teenager things and that’s all fine and dandy but what does this really have to do with anything? Oh, but it does. You never piss off a teen; there are way too many hormones going on in those bodies to piss off.

One of things that was really hard, harder than I thought it was going to be, was getting away from the fact that this is J.K. Rowling. She’s Miss Potter. The only thing we’ve ever known from her was Harry Potter. And we all know how much Harry Potter takes up of my life. So it was hard to concentrate on that but I kept reminding myself to read it separately of that and I felt like I did a fairly good job of it. I fear there will be many people out there that just won’t be able to do it, which is a tragedy, because if you put aside Harry Potter for a moment, it is a truly great book.

The biggest thing I liked about this book was the kind of web that she spun with all these characters. She bounced around these characters so much and so fluidly that it was hard to keep sometimes, but in a good way. I was left, often times, going “what on earth is going on?!” and I had to keep reading because I had to know what was going to happen next. I had a little bit of a beef with the ending. And it wasn’t necessarily HOW it ended, but how FAST it ended. Suddenly, it was done and I was like WHOA! And was that a sad ending or what? I was practically in tears. JKR has not lost her brutal touch of killing people, lets just say that.

All in all, it was a true enjoyment and a very captivating book. If JKR was ever worried that her book would not be received well because it wasn’t Potter, she had another thing coming. Her writing is amazing and it translates well into this new genre. I hope that Potterheads around the world can put Harry Potter aside for a moment while they read this book. Harry Potter is one of a kind. It was an epic, incredible, amazing, life-chaning journey in the form of a book. It’s hard to duplicate that. But this woman has talent, plain and simple and this book proves that. I definitely hope to see more from her in the future.

So, what did you think? Like/dislike? Why or why not? Let me know! I will be posting more in a couple weeks, as my LADA and I are discussing this book as our book club choice next month and I can’t wait to share all the views! Until then, tell me what you think, as always, in the comments :D

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Stop by next week, as the one and only Jackie reviews Frozen Heat by Richard Castle.