Blog Tour + Giveaway: Stripped Without You - Brooklyn Skye

Monday, December 23, 2013

Stripped Without You - Brooklyn Skye
Release date: November 30th 2013
Purchase: Amazon

STRIPPED (a novel) 
College freshman Quinn Montgomery will do anything to avoid the mistake her sister made—killing herself over a boy. But when she is forced into nude modeling at a local college to support her family after a bankruptcy, she begins to crack, just enough to let Torrin, the university’s top varsity oarsman, see that the real Quinn is not as feisty and unapproachable as she wants everyone to think. But letting someone in comes at a steep cost and, it turns out, Torrin is connected to Quinn’s family in more ways than she could ever imagine.

WITHOUT YOU (a novella)
She was broken when I met her, shattered from the death of her sister and running from love. Not to sound like an egotistical douche or anything, but I fixed her. Put her back together, filled in the cracks, and made her whole. A true fairytale in her eyes. 

But now real life is getting in the way: school, jobs, and the unexpected opportunity to travel the world under a legendary photographer. This internship will open doors not even my father’s influence could. It’s something I’ve been waiting all my life for. But so is Quinn, and accepting this internship will mean leaving her. 

And breaking her all over again.

My Thoughts:
The combined cover was just beautiful. I saw the original covers for both books before and both were beautiful. It had that sense of sadness yet it embraced something like longing (and it did). Then both the titles fitted the book and mixed together, it made sense too: Stripped Without You – like she or he would be lost without the other. The first book was a novel about Quinn, in her POV; the second, the novella, was in Torrin’s POV, but nonetheless revolved about them too.

These were two of the books I coveted so imagine my enthusiasm when I received the eARCs months ago! I had been waiting for this book since I saw the cover since it had this essence of tragedy or sadness. But fortunately, this was not as dramatic as I thought it would be. I had my fair share of reading those NA books that made me weep and cry my heart out and I told myself to take a break with those kinds for gut-wrenching emotional rollercoaster. Though Stripped had some gloomy side, I was glad that it was not that saddening. It had its moments but enough to be able to appreciate the story and the characters themselves. Then Without You was a novella that made me wanted more because it was about Torrin and Quinn’s relationship and what they would face together, as a couple.

At Stripped, it was like the literal meaning of it, being exposed. There were secrets lurking, secrets that broke the protagonist, Quinn; almost destroyed the relationship that she had built with Torrin and those which were misunderstood.

“High dive into frozen waves where the past comes back to life
Fight fear for the selfish pain, it was worth it every time
Hold still right before we crash ‘cause we both know how this ends
A clock ticks ‘til it breaks your glass and I drown in you again

‘Cause you are the piece of me I wish I didn’t need
Chasing relentlessly, still fight and I don’t know why

If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy?
If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?”
-          Clarity by Zedd ft. Foxes

Stripped (verb): To take the covering or clothing from; To take off one’s clothes; To pull or tear off; To make bare or clear (as by cutting or grazing); To deprive of possessions: Plunder – taken forcefully.
These definitions described the story well. It justified the definitions as I read the story. I was enveloped with Quinn’s story. Even if there were times I wanted to shake her and stop being so confounding, I understood her. There was something more than what she was portraying. Stripped made me see a person reliving, fighting and dealing with a suicide by a loved one.

“Sometimes losing yourself is the only way to find yourself.”
Quinn, the protagonist, was a college student striving to pay her tuition with the help of her job – a nude art model. She vowed that she would never fall in love as it was the reason why her sister, Zoe died. She looked up to her sister so much that there were times that most of her decisions were for her dead sister— she was living the life that was supposed to be lived by her sister. When she decided to model at an art class for another University, she met someone, Torrin. Torrin was the head of the rowing team, a kind, charming-handsome lad and a guy who knew what to do, when to move and knew when he needed to chase someone he loved.
Was Quinn defiant enough to hold her promise to never fall in love?
Or would Torrin prove her wrong?

“Puttin’ my defenses up,
‘Cause I don’t wanna fall in love
If I ever did that
I think I’d have a heart attack.”
-          Heart Attack by Demi Lovato

The cover and title itself were both meaningful, story-wise. Then, the necklace (Stripped) was a treasure and very significant. ‘Save yourself.’ I thought of this as a double entendre; if not misunderstood: ‘Save yourself from falling in love and save yourself to not follow what I did.’ That was what Quinn instilled in her brain and the reason why her sister, Zoe, died was because Zoe fell in love. So when this happened: ‘Your necklace, it’s gone.’ I felt that Quinn was more lost that before. But it felt like it was also a sign for her to take. That maybe it was a sign about what she was holding back was to be set free. Yes, it was important because the necklace was her sisters. The sole and tangible memory of Zoe for her was lost and could never be found.

“Never break a sweat for the other guys
When you come around, I get paralyzed
And every time I try to be myself
It comes out wrong like a cry for help
The feelings are lost in my lungs
They’re burning, I’d rather be numb
Yeah, there’s no one else to blame (no one else)
So scared I take off in a run
I’m flying too close to the sun
And I burst into flames”
-          Heart Attack by Demi Lovato

This story mixed a lost heroine, a hot mysterious guy, humor, family problems and of course, romance.
Quinn was fighting against her feelings, I gave her credit because she was not used to it. She was so closed-off and the nagging feeling that she was betraying her sister because she felt she was falling in love. This spoke of how you could not avoid falling in love. It showed that you would be falling in love – take the risk and believe that there would be a person out there for you. That person who would open your eyes.  That would love you with such willingness and realness that you would not give up without trying. It showed how Quinn avoided and found herself falling upon the walls she built. I pitied Torrin because he was really trying: ‘I can’t keep trying especially if that someone doesn’t acknowledge or gives you hope.’ And when a person doesn’t believe, it would fight its way to make you believe. And that was what Torrin did and like what he said, ‘it takes some rejection before a guy gives up’. Falling and being in love were about heartaches; both bad and good – the one that would want you to give up and feel ripped into pieces; and the one that would make you feel alive. There were hindrances and secrets between Quinn and Torrin, but their connection was not forced. They dealt with Quinn’s defiance and denial about love but she was willing to try (after everything). I loved their dates: rowing and the tree house. I super love those parts as it were also glimpses about Torrin and how Quinn was trying to take a risk about love. Even if she was in denial. Another was that picture session with Quinn. Torrin entitled his photographs as ‘Imperfect’ and it was a double entendre about Quinn too.

What I loved at Stripped: the sequence was paced timely and the flow was just continuous. As a reader, I was not guessing that much, I was letting the story unfold itself. So my shock when I encountered the twist was just unexpected. As the secrets were being divulged, the twist arose. I didn’t expect that twist, never did that logic popped in my head. Quinn would be proven wrong, what she thought she knew was not what it was and she needed to hear the whole story. Then how the secrets were revealed was consistent with the story. Maybe Quinn misunderstood but anyone in her position would be jumping into conclusions and then after the anger was let out, they tried to speak up the truth – the whole and ugly truth. Another thing I appreciated what the author did was that every emotion and reaction were genuine; and I felt the characters as they were.

As far as the continuity was concerned – how it mixed the expectations and surprises, the need to point out the characters were in order: I felt the characters and everyone was a character to be praised. This story showed me that most (if not all) of the characters were brave enough. From the parents to Derek, yep even Derek. The characters grew in there on ways, they learnt how to realize things and they became truthful to themselves. Also, I needed to point out Evan. My heart broke for him, aside from Quinn and her parents, Evan lost everything. As much as he was still hurting, he tried to let go and moved on. He was moving on but he was still there for the Montgomery family because like them, he lost someone who was once his everything. And that strip of paper Quinn gave to him? That was when I really cried. Because the emotions caught up in me and every word was both a weight that was heavy and also something that I knew would lift Evan up and continued to freely move on.

Before the author released the novella, I had this opinion: “My only problem at the end was that Quinn still pursued a course that was for her sister, I would like to think she wants to pursue it because she wants it not because it was her sister’s dream.” I guess that Brooklyn (the author) could read minds, because my opinion was answered at Without You.

At Without You, it expressed the feeling of belonging to each other. Of realizing that they needed each other.

“Walk through a red parade and refuse to make amends
It cuts deep through our ground and makes us forget all common sense
Don’t speak as I try to leave ‘cause we both know what we’ll choose
If you pull then I’ll push too deep and I’ll fall right back at you

‘Cause you are the piece of me I wish I didn’t need
Chasing relentlessly, still fight and I don’t know why

If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy?
If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?”
-          Clarity by Zedd ft. Foxes

It was a journal-like story of Torrin’s love for Quinn, A true depiction of how a guy ultimately loved his girl that he would have an ultimatum that he already decided what to choose:
‘Will he sacrifice his passion for his priority or will his passion surpass his priority?’
Would he regret not choosing his passion?
Or would he pick his passion and lose his priority?
The question lies, was there really an option?
Does Torrin needed to choose?
It was already known what or who was his priority but it was different because he had fallen too hard. So again, Passion or Priority? That was the question (no pun included, Hamlet). What I was looking for:
More Torrin on the rowing boat: CHECK. Though I was expecting more like a competition with another team/University?
More background about Torrin and glimpses of people from Stripped: Not Really. But it was understandable because of the limit since it was a novella.
Self-discovery. Still be together? Future plans?: CHECK. CHECK. CHECK.

For a novella, it had deepen the story after what happened in Stripped. It dealt on Torrin and Quinn’s relationship. Mainly, Torrin’s dilemma and them as a couple. They portrayed that they were still new as a couple. Torrin could think of what would be best for Quinn yet Quinn might do the opposite of it. They were still trying to figure out each other. Quinn was sort of depicted as vulnerable here but then again, she had overcome her past and she was having a new beginning with Torrin. Oh, Quinn was clingy to Torrin here (fan-girl squeals). As much as so much became different, Quinn still had her stubbornness and she was still in control of herself. (Let me rant something: I mean, who can resist Torrin? Goodness that body. Really, Quinn? He’s all yours. I’m so shocked you can still keep your hands off most of the time! I totally feel you! Haha!) Nonetheless, it was a story about a couple, though I loved reading their relationship as their interactions were so normal and free, it also showed what couples encountered in their relationship. Also, it was a story about reaching your dreams, choosing and knowing what would be the best for yourself (and for your loved one).

“Ooh, ooh, ooh, the reason I hold on
Ooh, ooh, ohh, ‘cause I need this hole gone
Funny you’re the broken one but I’m the only one who needed saving
‘Cause when you never see the light it’s hard to know which one of us is caving

Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can’t live without you
It takes me all the way
I want you to stay, stay
I want you to stay, oh”
-          Stay by Rihanna

It felt like I was in a pensieve or when Tom Riddle’s diary sucked Harry Potter. I was just followed what was happening and that was what I felt while I was reading it. The time sequencing was something I liked about this novella. The prologue was “What? Why?” then it became clearer. Torrin recounted his memories for us (more like journal entries). The story was about Torrin and had started his story about dilemma and keeping it a secret towards Quinn. Torrin had his alpha-male shown here: a “manly-way” of being a gentleman and a guy in love. He was this ‘I’m a guy and I’ll punch lockers because I love you and I want you to tell me to stay.’ He just loved Quinn so much that he would throw anything for her. But of course, what did Quinn felt? A burden. Because she felt she was holding Torrin back but for Torrin’s case it was not. Torrin was overly-protecting Quinn that it seemed he lacked trust on her but the truth? Quinn was still learning on how to learn herself but she was trying and it was normal for her to feel what she felt. It was just that Torrin thought he knew Quinn so much that he already jumped into conclusions. Both were afraid: Torrin, to leave Quinn in the early parts of their relationship; and Quinn, for being a baggage for Torrin. Yet Torrin knew what Quinn would do. And the thing was Quinn would always be Torrin’s priority. There was no denying that.

I bet a reader would wish to have a boyfriend like Torrin, the love he has for Quinn. But other than that? Torrin knew his charms. And boy did he flash those charms. Teaser Torrin. What was it with Torrin and the T’s? Torrin and the Tequila Shots and Torrin that would leave your Throat dry or would let you max that Thermostat. He was broodingly handsome. Let me get back to that body shot. Imagine that scene with a voice sounding deep and husky. Breathless. Plus, whenever he mentioned “Babe”? My heart skips a beat. Was it possible that I imagined how he uttered that single syllable with a distinct voice?

The story also focused on Torrin’s passion, Photography. As a reader, I felt how he knew about his camera. He knew what the angles, lighting and these distances for a perfect picture. I knew that it was something he was passionate about and how real and buoyant he was when he was with his camera. And Quinn saw that too and as the story progressed, she learnt what she wanted to do too, and I was so proud of her! It was what she was also passionate about and Torrin would be with her all the time.

Even though I wanted to know more Torrin, this novella made me love Torrin more. At Stripped, I already loved how he was. But in here, he showed who he was. I always said to my friends: a guy who could cry in front of a woman he loved was a man who was truly, madly, deeply (sings the Savage Garden song) in love with that woman. That was why I loved Torrin more. He did just that and I felt his sincerity and his overwhelming love for Quinn. How passionate he was of his dreams and of his loyalty and love for his girl… and of course, how they were both growing, together. They respected each other’s decision and they supported themselves as a couple. That was why I envy their relationship. It was wonderful. How they took turns on knowing the bounds. Lingering. Figuring out. The way they get out of control then they would let the problem and anger subdue then apologize and made it work? They were already open to each other; it was just that, there was a hindrance – Torrin’s dilemma. When that was sorted Torrin and Quinn became sweeter (not on the sappy side). They had this new communication and they knew that there was no need to conclude for one because they could ask anytime. I loved how they were proud at each other’s desires and achievements. But most of all, what I loved about this couple? Their relationship and the utterance of “we” as they made their decision, “together”.

In the end, there was really never a question. The couple was able to fix their misunderstandings and strengthen their relationship. They needed both to understand each stance. It would always be the same for Torrin because his passion was also one of his priorities and the priority was the continuation of his passion – the sources and the things that kept him going.

Overall, as imperfect as the story, it managed to make me fall in love… I fell in love, not only with the characters and the story but at everything –  the lack and the excess, the focus and the distance. As much as ‘Stripped’ focused on Quinn, her independence and her brewing relationship with Torrin, it also focused on fixing family ties. The value of honesty, love, letting go, moving on and of forgiveness were there. Quinn as a character progressed and learned a lot. In ’Without You’, Quinn was still learning and growing with Torrin. Yes, she was still sort of independent but she knew that she also controlled her life and moved on at what happened to her sister. ‘Without You’ focused on Quinn and Torrin themselves, how Torrin described Quinn on his point-of-view what a headache but lovable person Quinn was; how she was trying to fix her life and so on. Also, it showed what people in a relationship was – the arguments, happiness and togetherness.

Brooklyn Skye amazed me on how familiar yet unique her stories were. From Stripped to Without You, I was still in her spell as she knew how to write a heartfelt story, from how we could find love (Stripped) to how we could fall deeper into love (Without You).

Overall rating: 4.75 – 5 out of 5.

My “STRIPPED Without You” Playlist:
Heart Attack – Demi Lovato
Secrets – One Republic
Please Don’t Say You Love Me – Gabrielle Aplin
Tonight I’m Getting Over You – Carly Rae Jepsen
If This Isn’t Love – Jennifer Hudson
Learn to Love Again – Lawson
Red Sky – Lawson
Clarity – Zedd
Stranded – Jennifer Paige
Stay – Rihanna

***I personally dubbed as official soundtrack: ‘Heart Attack’ for Stripped, ‘Stay’ for Without You, and ‘Clarity’ for Stripped Without You. These songs were so fitting and when I watch or hear it, the book just pops in my head.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can't view the Rafflecopter? Click THIS LINK.

Author Bio:
Brooklyn Skye grew up in a small town where she quickly realized writing was an escape from small town life. Really, she’s just your average awkward girl who’s obsessed with words. Stripped is her debut novel.

Author Links:
Website     |     Twitter    
Goodreads     |     Facebook

-     Jassie

1 sprinkled sunshines:

Shane Morgan said...

Nice review and post. Thank you for participating :)

Post a Comment

I wouldn't mind any sprinkled sunshines :)
Feel free to comment! :D