Book Blitz and Giveaway: Don't Hate the Player...Hate the Game: Katie Ashley

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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.

Don't Hate the Player...Hate the Game 
Playlist from Katie Ashley:
Song titles are linked to you tube videos

Katie considers this the perfect theme song for this book:
Who You'd Be Today: Kenny Chesney
"It ain't fair you died too young. Like a story that had just begun. But death tore the pages all away. God knows how I miss you. All the hell that I've been through. Just knowing, no one could take your place. Sometimes I wonder who you'd be today."

and some others mentioned in the book or fitting the story:

Storm : Lifehouse

Beautiful Boy: John Lennon

Free Bird: Lynard Skynard

You were always on my mind: Willie Nelson

Don't Cha: Pussy Cat Dolls

Long Time Coming: Oliver James

Needs: Collective Soul

Crash: Dave Matthews

The world I'd known had shattered around me in an instant, and now everything seemed so surreal. People went on doing exactly what they'd done before while I tip-toed through this new reality. 

I was immediately drawn into this story told in Noah's point of view in present time and flash backs. Noah is a typical, popular seventeen year old young man who has good friends and a stable life despite being raised in a single parent home. But in one terrible moment, his life is changed forever.

His best friend, Jake is gone and it not only affects him deeply, but also brings up past hurts and feelings of loss. Noah is trying to navigate through his pain and grief while also trying to find out more about Jake's recent past. We learn about Jake through flashbacks, observations of others, and clues he left behind. One of those clues leads Noah on a search for the girl that Jake had true feelings for. As more information surfaces, Noah begins to question how much he really knew about what was going on in Jake's life in the last few months. I adored Noah. He was struggling with so much and trying to be stoic, but he had such strong feelings and emotions that they were hard to control. It just broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. 

"Facin' means acknowledgment and acceptance."
"You're not there yet, baby."

Noah meets the Preacher's daughter, Maddie and feels an immediate connection. But he learns she also might have had more of a connection with Jake than he realized.  Noah is torn between emerging feelings for Maddie, Loyalty to Jake, and confusion about what the truth is. Maddie is strong, smart, and holds strong to her ideals. She is sweet and supportive, but does not let people walk over her. 

Maddie and Noah bond over shared grief and are just what each other needs to deal with the pain. They challenge and support each other and have good chemistry. But both are fearful, nervous, and have difficulty sharing their true feelings. I absolutely loved them together. They really were each other's anchor in a sea of grief.

I enjoyed seeing Noah's growth during the course of the story. He faces tragedy, loss, heartache, insecurity, and confusion. But he begins to come to terms with things and make positive changes for himself and others. 

"So it's kinda like 'don't hate the player, hate the game', right?" 
"Like you were a product of what society wanted of you for a long time--even though it wasn't who you really were deep down inside."

This story had many layers and unfolded at a good pace. The characters were complicated and likable. There were serious story lines involving secondary characters  that also added complications to Noah and Maddie's lives. Situations continue to change for Noah and he has no choice but to keep adapting.

Ultimately this book shows how one person can make a difference and how it has a ripple effect. It is about finding your own path, not being afraid to be who you are or becoming who you want to be. I really enjoyed the characters and the message. It was sad, emotional, heart breaking, heart warming, and inspirational. A very enjoyable and beautiful read despite the serious subject matter.  It was not sad all the time, but also had episodes of humor as well. Another fantastic book in my Katie Ashley collection.

The life of one we love is never lost. It's influence goes on through every life it ever touched.

Thanks to Katie Ashley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review

"You mean everything to me--you saved me from the darkness and brought me to the light. And I can't imagine a future without you in it."

Have I sung Katie's praises lately? Have I told you how much I love her writing? I think it has been a while, so let me just give ya a quick reminder. Katie has written another amazing book and knocked it out of the ballpark! There is just something about her YA novels that get to me. Especially this one.  They have such intricate plots and emotion behind them.

Don't Hate The Player...Hate the Game is probably my favorite book by Katie, seriously there was just something about the characters and the writing in this book that tugged on a piece of my heart and hung on. I loved reading the emotions told and portrayed from the mind of a 17-year-old male. Noah's point of view just gave the entire book a completely different vibe to it, and Katie, well I thought her emotions and her writing was a slam dunk for this story. 
The characters are so real, so well developed and her writing in this book is just so much more. Not that I don't love her writing in her other books cause I do, but I just connected on a much deeper level with this one. I found her writing in this book to have a different feel to it, one I really enjoyed and I am glad that she took the chance and published it. Don't Hate The Player proves that Katie is not one-dimensional, she can rock a YA just as well as she rocks her erotica.

"Don't be ashamed of your emotions, Noah. Experience them and embrace them. They're what make us alive and strong."

Noah was an amazing male lead. Some spots made me a little uncomfortable but Kim reminded me that we are reading this story from the mind of a 17-year-old teen.  His raw and real reactions were that of a 17-year-old boy, not to mention Noah's pain and his struggle between grieving and following the traditional role of what is expected of a man was so heart wrenching to read. He never had the real chance to grieve properly because he was always to worried about how others would view him, or what their opinion of him would be, since you know crying isn't very masculine. My heart broke each time he would start, I thought to myself finally Noah you will have some form of closure, and then he would bury it away. 

Maggie, there isn't much to say about Maggie other than she was amazing. I just loved her and the message she brought with her character. Our heroine was an inspiration. She stood strong; she was Noah's saving grace. The light in his tunnel of darkness.  
"It was true that time healed all wounds, but it didn't quite mend a broken heart."

The first half of Don't Hate The Player was very heavy in tragedy and grief while the second half was much lighter as Noah found ways to grieve and handle the variety of issues thrown at him. Noah and Maggie's journey was one of personal growth, strength, acceptance, and the importance of telling people how you feel. Sometimes people are deeper than they appear and over time, they change. Even the hardest times can be meaningful and even beautiful if you have people you care about to share them with.

Thank you Katie for the opportunity to read and review Don't Hate The Player...Hate The Game for my honest review.

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.

Follow the Tour at Literati Literature Lovers.


Grand Prize Tour Giveaway: 5 Winners will be chosen.  MUST RESIDE IN THE USA TO BE ELIGIBLE ~ Audio DVD of The Proposition & The Proposal (one winner gets both), Signed Paperback of Music of the Heart, Signed Paperback of The Proposition, Signed Paperback of The Proposal, Swag Pack.
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Giveaway of one ecopy of Don't Hate the Player...Hate the Game 
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