Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Unofficial Book Blitz: Upside Down (Off the Map #1) by Lia Riley

Upside Down (Off the Map #1)
by Lia Riley
Publisher: Grand Central/Forever
Release Date: August 5th 2014
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Talia Stolfi lives her life by one rule--fake it till you make it. But the act is getting harder and harder to maintain. Her older sister was taken off life support last year and her whole family fell apart. Mom drunk-dials with TMI about the hairy hippie she's dating. Dad spends his nights eating cold pizza and not talking. Talia disastrously loses her virginity to her sister's boyfriend in a shared moment of grief. To top it off, no one knows she suffers from OCD. In fact, she's been so wrapped up with her secret compulsions that she never turned in her senior thesis. Now she's not graduating with an honors in history. She's not graduating--period.

A low-key exchange semester to Australia seems like the perfect way to cut and run until a chance encounter throws her into the path of a surly environmental activist. 

Bran Lockhart is square in the midst of a shite year. After the girl of his dreams turned into his worst nightmare, he slunk back to town, and lives in the world's dodgiest share house. He alternates his days between being mocked by commuters while dressed as a pocket-change collecting Koala for The Wilderness Society and tutoring at Melbourne University. He needs to salvage his plans to study climate change or pack it all in, move to the beach and be a full time surf bum. The last thing he wants is this nagging curiosity about a cute American with sad eyes. 

One unexpected kiss leads to another and soon Talia and Bran find themselves in uncharted territory. As they are tested by life's challenges, they discover the courage to claim love and learn that sometimes in order to find yourself, you need to venture off the map.

Upside Down
by Lia Riley

“Never have I ever worn handcuffs,” I say.
Bran reaches over, yanks the lid off the water bottle and takes a sip.
“Really?” My stomach lurches at the idea of another girl within five feet of him.
“Once. Wasn’t for me. I prefer more control, you know?”
“Nope—not really.” My sex life is shorter than a haiku. I bite my inner cheek and pretend not to notice his gaze slant toward me. “All right, Kink Boy, your turn.”
“Never have I ever done something I regret.”
I giggle but he looks dead serious. “Wow, that must make you alone in the universe.” I take a drink.
“Your smile, it lights up your whole face, but your eyes stay sad.”
Is he being serious or is this yet another bait? “Never have I ever sleepwalked.”
Bran drinks. “When I was eight, my neighbors woke to me in their bedroom. Don’t remember a thing. Lucky they didn’t call the coppers.”
“Whoa, crazy. Do you still do it?”
“Sometimes. Lock your door tonight. Let’s see. . .never have I ever shot a gun.”
I don’t drink.
“Isn’t that Anti-American?”
“I’m a pacifist. Never have I ever kissed in the rain.”
“This is the single most depressing fact I’ve ever heard.” He drinks.
“Hence my sad eyes.”
Traffic starts moving. I hang my hand out the window and hot wind blows through my fingers.
I stiffen. No one ever calls me that except for my mom. “How’d you know my full name?”
“Read the luggage tag on your bag—Natalia Stolfi.”
 “Oh, right.” I shake my head and regroup. “Is it true you have no regrets, not even one?” Hopefully he has no idea how serious I am about his response.
“There’s no point.” His fingers tighten infinitesimally on the wheel. “The past is past. End of story.”
“Like whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”
“No, that’s a dumb ass cliché. I mean there’s no meaning to life, despite what people pretend. Once I figured that out, everything got easier.”
“Has anyone ever said you are intense?”
“Since the day I was born.”

UPSIDE DOWN (Off the Map #1)/Lia Riley/Excerpt Two

“You’re doing fine, Talia,” Bran says. “Now, I’m going to need you to release your left hand, reach a few inches and grab the next hold.”
I grit my teeth. The way he talks, you’d think I’m scaling Everest or at least Mount Kilamanjaro. Instead—
            “Excuse us, we’ll be by in a tic. That’s the way, Andy, right around the lady.”
I’m the lady. Andy, a kid who doesn’t look a day over seven, scrambles past in a flurry of Spiderman shoes and gap-toothed smiles. His parents bring up the rear, beaming at their agile little monkey with obvious pride.
And they aren’t the first group to go by.
Five Swedish women, another young couple and a guy in his mid-seventies shot past me during the last quarter hour.
The top is so close I can taste it. Bran is everything encouraging, but below is a twenty-foot drop. Not enough to kill, unless I fall with some sort of suicidal intent, still, what if--
“Take my hand.” Bran eases toward me.
“I’m serious. No.”
This is it. I can’t do it. I can’t let go.
He won’t admit the truth while I verge on full-scale panic attack mode, but there’s no doubt I’m giving him cause to lose interest. I’m spelling out the reasons I suck in bold, capital letters.
“Take a deep breath,” he orders.
“Breath taken.”
“Another one.”
“I want your hand in mine, no bullshit. You’ll be safe. I’m going to keep you safe. Trust me.”
Somehow I do it. I lace my fingers with his and he helps me gain a few more feet. My head clears the boulder and there’s the steel marker identifying the summit. Holy shit, I’m going to get there.
A last step and we’re at the top. The kid in the Spiderman shoes munches a vegemite sandwich. I want to scoop him into a big fat squeeze except his parents would likely object. Instead, I tackle hug Bran.
“I knew you’d do it.” He buries his face in my hair.
“I didn’t.”

He turns me around to see the view and hugs my waist. “Your place is here, Captain, in the sun,” he whispers. “Don’t ever forget it.”

1) UPSIDE DOWN is set primarily in Australia. What do you think it is about Australia that so captivates people’s imaginations? And why is Australia the perfect place for romance? 

I jumped on a Qantas flight the month before my twenty-first birthday for a study-abroad trip. My expectations were simple: cross the equator, pass the International Date Line and rock out (er, study REALLY HARD) for six months. Instead, I discovered a place that has become my second home. 

First and foremost, I love Australians. I mean that quite literally. I married one--the perfect souvenir! Generally speaking, Australians excel at dry wit and have one heck of an anti-authoritarian streak. To me, nothing is sexier than a sense of humor, and when the guy making the jokes has a hot accent and cheeky grin? Life=made! 

Secondly, to say that Australia’s landscape is dramatic is an epic understatement. The continent’s isolation has spawned animal, plant and human diversity that are like nowhere else on the planet. Even a quick jaunt into the wilderness yields a bone-deep sense that you are in an ancient place. 

This is a country of extremes. When it’s hot, it’s bloody hot. When animals are poisonous, it means they can kill you with one bite. When there’s a storm rolling in from the Southern Ocean? Those waves are going to be huge. 

So if you fall in love in such a place? Buckle up--the ride’s going to be intense. 

2) What are three words describe your hero? Heroine? 

The three words I’d choose for Bran are: Temperamental, Perceptive and Magnetic 

The three words I’d choose for Talia are: Sensitive, Playful and Self-deprecating 

3) Can you describe your book in five words or less? 

Offbeat. Witty. Wanderlust. Heart-searching. Chemistry. 

4) What did you do before writing? 

Drink less! I kid, I kid. But if you ever want to see a KICKASS Michael Jackson lip-synch, slip me a bottle of tequila. I can "Man in the Mirror" you to tears. I have worked in non-profit middle management, as a legislative assistant, and barista. I'm pretty sure my mom believes I still "pour coffee." 

5) What’s your dream travel destination? 

I have a massive Antarctica fetish (I’ve been once. A penguin sat on my lap. Yes, it was bliss). My ultimate trip would be to South Georgia Island smack dab in the Southern Ocean. I’d also love to visit Madagascar, Iceland, Svalbard, Palau…islands are sort of my thing.

Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult Romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling fourex with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.

A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn't mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c'mon, who doesn't love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine.

She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

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  1. I've never had the chance to study abroad but France or Italy would have been nice I've always wanted to go to Australia but never thought of studying there.

    1. There are so many places... But I like the places you picked ;) Maybe not to study, but to visit them in the future, right?
      Thanks for stopping by :)