Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Off the Map series by Lia Riley

Title: Upside Down (Off the Map #1)
Author: Lia Riley
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: August 5, 2104
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
If Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found

Twenty-one-year-old Natlia Stolfi is saying goodbye 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 the 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.

Title: Sideswiped (Off the Map #2)
Author: Lia Riley
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
It was only meant to last the summer…

Tahlia 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 thought 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…

Title: Inside Out (Off the Map #3)
Author: Lia Riley
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: December 2, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
The Off the Map series comes to a stunning conclusion

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?

Most New Adult series I’ve read are series in the sense that they are a series of companion novels (also, how many times can I use the word “series” in one sentence?). But Lia Riley’s Off the Map series was different. All three books, Upside Down, Sideswiped and Inside Out, are all part of one large story. And I loved reading that story.

When she decided to run away to Australia for six months as part of a study abroad program, Talia never thought she would do much beyond study and discover Melbourne. After all, she’s still trying to find a way back to herself after her older sister’s death. As she starts to put her life back together in a new place, Talia meets Bran Lockhart. And Bran sees straight through to everything she’s been trying so hard to hide. But Bran has his own baggage to deal with. After losing who he thought was the girl of his dreams, Bran is forced to move back home to Australia and move on with his life. But even though he swore he wouldn’t get attached to anyone that way again, he can’t seem to stay away from Talia. Together Talia and Bran will have to decide whether they want to be together or let geography force them apart.

Like I said earlier in this review, most of the NA series that I’ve read have been made up of companion novels all set in the same world, but focusing on different characters so that people who were secondary characters in one book end up the main characters in another. But Lia Riley’s Off the Map series wasn’t like that. All three books are about Bran and Talia and everything that seems to stand in the way of them being together. And as much as I am a strong supporter of companion novels and standalone books, I actually really liked getting to spend all this time with Bran and Talia. It didn’t feel like their story was dragged out or got too convoluted partway through. It was just their story, and their story needed three books to be told. And honestly, it could have been another book or two longer and I still would have read them. Lia Riley found a way to completely draw me into these characters’ story, making me feel like I was a part of it with them (or maybe that’s just me wanting to go to Australia, which is also entirely possible). But that’s all to say that because I believed in Talia and in Bran, I didn’t ever feel like their story was too drawn out. I was happy to see everything they went through, even if it wasn’t always pleasant, because it made them stronger and ultimately led them to where they ended up. And I was MORE THAN happy with the conclusion of their story.

Tahlia definitely hadn’t had it easy. Between her sister’s sudden death and her mom basically abandoning her family, things weren’t exactly going great for her. So I could see why she would want to run away to Australia for a few months. Hell, I don’t have half the stuff she did going on in my life and I’d hop on a plane to Australia without any second thoughts. So yeah, I got why she wanted to escape her life. For a while though, I wasn’t sure that she was doing the right thing by running away from it all. But in running away, she somehow found a way to deal with everything that was going on. And in large part, that’s because of Bran. And Bran, well he had his own set of baggage to deal with and it wasn’t exactly light baggage either. But, even if it took him a while to see it, he was good for Talia and Talia was good for him. Individually, I don’t know that Bran and Talia would have found their way as easily, but together they just worked. I just wished that there hadn’t been so many obstacles standing in their way. But then that wouldn’t have made as compelling a story, so there’s that. When it comes down to it though, I really loved Bran and Talia, both as individuals and together. And that’s all that really matters.

I really enjoyed reading all three books in Lia Riley’s Off the Map series. Each one had it’s own merits and I don’t know that I would be able to pick a favourite out of them all. If you’re looking for a New Adult read that digs a little deeper, then definitely check out the first book in the series, Upside Down.

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