May 11, 2013

Spotlight on: "Dont Hate the Player ... Hate the Game" by Katie Ashley

Title: Don't Hate the Player
Author:  Katie Ashley
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 30, 2013



For Noah Sullivan being the best friend to a douchebag and player like Jake Nelson has never been easy. It's been a rocky road since kindergarten when Jake duct taped Noah to his chair before recess. With just six weeks to high school graduation, Jake accidentally blows his drunken ass up on his grandfather's tractor, and Noah finds himself immersed not only in a whirlwind of grief, but on a quest to find a mystery girl from Jake's past.

While cleaning out Jake's room, Noah and Jake's dad make a startling discovery. Instead of the obligatory porn collection or pot stash, they find a ring, but not just any ring. Its half a carat of commitment in a platinum setting-proving even man whores have taste. After Jake's mom pleads with Noah to find the girl who meant so much to Jake, Noah begins a modern day Grail quest to track the girl down.

Since Jake was a notorious player with a legendary collection of trophy panties, Noah finds himself in over his head. There are the usual suspects like Avery, the Ice Princess Jake dated for appearances, or Presley, the school mattress Jake dated for convenience. But the trail begins to point to the most unlikely of suspects: Maddie, the Valedictorian and choir girl who was trying to help the unmotivated jock graduate--the girl who also has surprisingly caught Noah's eye and meddled with his heart.

Hanging out with Maddie shows Noah a different side of Jake--one that was deeply human and surprisingly douche-free.  And the more he tries to solve the mystery of the ring and of Jake, the more Noah starts to discover about himself and of love.

About the Author

Katie Ashley is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of The Proposition. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs and one outnumbered cat. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.

She spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012.

She also writes Young Adult fiction under the name Krista Ashe.
Author Links

Don't Hate the Player...Hate the Game by Katie Ashley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes there is a book that you pick up because you like the cover, or the synopsis sounds interesting, or you're just trying to work your way through your TBR pile.  You're not really expecting anything earth shattering, or life changing, but just a nice enjoyable read for a day or two.  But then.... BAM!!! All of a sudden you are drawn into a story so emotional, so gut-wrenching and heart breaking, that tears are streaming down your face, and you're mumbling, "Why, oh why?" to yourself at 3 in the morning as you frantically swipe from page to page on your e-reader.  This book was all of that and more for me. 

Judging from the cover and the playful title of the book, I was expecting a silly little love story with a dark twist.  I knew from the synopsis that the main character's best friend dies in a freak accident right off the bat, but I wasn't prepared for how REAL Jake felt all through the book.  Noah is constantly hearing his voice in his head, and having flashbacks to all of the good times he and Jake spent together.  He keeps Jake alive for the reader, and I truly felt that I was able to know him through Noah.  Totally, completely, sob-inducing - take it from me.

If that had been the extent of the storyline - that and Noah's search for the girl that Jake had been in love with - I could have handled it.  Sure, a good cry once or twice and then wrap it up with a bow.  But, oh no.  There is so much more going on with this story.  I'm not going to give any spoilers, but here is just a quick glimpse of all of the other very emotionally heavy topics that are addressed in this book:  the death of a beloved grandparent, an estranged father, a single mom moving on to the next phase in her life, a terminally ill child, a recovering drug addict, and falling in love with a person you don't think you're supposed to be with.  Katie Ashley deals with all of these topics beautifully, and they all hit you squarely in the heart while you are reading.

The thing that kept bringing me to tears was how much Noah truly missed Jake.
"Jake?  Come on, Jake?  Answer me you sorry fu##er!  Tell me you being dead is just a joke you're pulling to keep from getting in trouble for skipping out today.  Please Jake..."
Plus, Noah is a typical 17 year old boy.  He is experiencing all of these overwhelming emotions of pain and grief and loss, but he doesn't know how to deal with them.  He thinks that the manly thing to do is bottle them up and not release them, but at the same time, he is still just a kid that is lost without his best friend.
It was like a dam had collapsed in my mind, and thoughts and emotions coursed through me. 
"Suck it up!  Be a man! 
It was instant love....I love you, Noah.
Don't let the emotions out.  Keep them buried. 
Hey man, don't make me duct tape you again.  You know, I'm here for you no matter what.  We're best buds, remember? 
No one wants to see the real you.  Keep it hidden.  They won't love you if they see the real you."
As if that wasn't enough for Noah to be going through, he is also having a major conflict with how he feels about Maddie.  She is one of the girls that he suspects might have been "the one" that Jake was in love with, but Noah thinks he is falling in love with her himself.  He feels guilty about his feelings - as if in some way he is betraying Jake by being with Maddie.
Maddie could be her.  The more I allowed myself to think it, the less I wanted it to be true.  Something within me didn't want Maddie to be Jake's, or most of all that Jake was Maddie's.
Overall, I think that what Noah goes through in this book is something that anyone who has ever lost someone close to them can relate to.  That is what makes this book so special.  It speaks to you.  It reaches out and grabs you and forces you to relive emotions that you may have felt at one time in your life, side by side with Noah.  And most importantly, I feel, is the message that I took away from Katie Ashley's story, and the words that were inscribed upon Jake's tomb:
"The life of one we love is never lost.  Its influence goes on through every life it ever touched."
I highly recommend this book to everyone!  It is classified as a Young Adult novel, but I truly think it is more of a New Adult, so don't let the YA tag discourage you.  This is truly one of the best books I have ever read, and it will forever have a place in my heart and on my Favorites shelf.

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