Welcome to the Played blog tour! I hope you all have been enjoying the posts so far! Check out the rest of the blog tour by clicking on the banner above. Below is my review of this novel, and the giveaway!
Played by Liz Fichera
Book Two of the Hooked series
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Rating: 3.5 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
This Game Is Getting All Too Real
He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me.
She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can't get over, I'll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.
What I Liked:
I had a feeling that I would enjoy this book more than I enjoyed Hooked, book one - and I was right! Hooked got three stars from me, so it's not THAT big of a difference, but overall, I definitely liked this book more. For one, I liked the male protagonist, Sam, a lot, and at times, Riley (the female protagonist).
This book picks up where the first book ended - but these books can be read as companion novels. Fred and Ryan are together, and Sam Tracy couldn't be more heartbroken. When he and Riley Berenger (Ryan's younger sister) are stuck together in a leadership conference, things are about to change. The two of them get stranded in the wilderness, and after Sam saves Riley, she is determined to return the favor - in which Riley takes it upon herself to get Fred and Sam together, even though Fred is dating Riley's brother.
For most of this book, up until the part where Sam makes some seriously stupid decisions involving Jay Hawkins, I really enjoyed this book! It's different from its predecessor. Riley is meddling in everyone's lives, trying to create problems in Ryan and Fred's relationship, trying to give Sam a makeover, trying to get Sam on the prom court, trying to get Jay Hawkins' attention, trying to get any attention at all, trying to be the not-perfect daughter. At first, I understood Riley, and how she was feeling. It's hard when everyone EXPECTS you to be perfect and never mess up, but siblings or best friends don't have that high standard, and can get away or not get in serious trouble for doing bad things.
So, at times, I "got" Riley. I understood her. I could see why she wanted to help Sam. I could understand why she wanted to get the attention of one of the coolest and hottest boys in school. I know the pressure, the feeling of not wanting to be so perfect all the time, of not wanting to have those high standards all the time. I think I liked Riley up until she started acting stupid and brainless. She's a very smart girl. But then she let her emotions get the better of her AND THEN SOME, and it got messy. I didn't like how she reacted to things, in the last fourth of the book.
The same goes with Sam - I really liked Sam! He is quiet yet confident, brooding yet sensitive. There are so many good qualities that he has, and selflessness is one of them, which I really liked. I can and can't believe he'd fall for someone like Riley - but then, opposites DO attract. The two of them are weird together. Bad things seem to happen around them. Or maybe just Riley.
While book one went in circles, this book definitely did NOT. I was happy to see some serious plot twists and surprises in this book, especially coming down to the end. The author hit many different issues in this book, and seemed to focus less on the Native American culture, which benefited her and the story, more than anything else.
Overall, I think I liked this one more, though I hate to be playing the comparison game. I'm glad for the change of characters, the change of pace, the change of focus. Definitely a job better done, Fichera! I mean that nicely.
What I Did Not Like:
I already mentioned this, but gradually, I started liking Riley less and less. At first, I was like, I can relate to this girl! Then she just went psycho. She got black-out drunk at a party and let Jay Hawkins do nasty things with tequila and take pictures of her while she was so heavily inebriated?! Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. Guys, I'm a college student, and I will tell you over and over, LEAVE THE ALCOHOL ALONE. Don't get black-out drunk. Don't get drunk at all. It messes you up, short-term and long-term.
Well, it worked against Riley big time. Those pictures were posted on Facebook, and everyone saw them. In this book, the pictures were taken down eventually. In the real world? Things never completely disappear. Things don't really get taken down from Facebook, either.
So yeah, I slowly lost respect for Riley. Towards the end of the book, she got stupider and stupider. Things like prom court and breaking up her brother and his girlfriend and running away seemed really, really important. Riley is so immature, and it shows, in the last fourth of the book. For an intelligent girl, she is really dense and lacks common sense. Beginning to the end of the story.
Sam. Oh Sam. Why did you have to be one of those boys that has a spotless record and no fighting incidents, right until you meet this one girl? This one girl, that you aren't even dating? Wow. Just... wow. Great decision making there. You had to be THAT GUY that goes apes*** crazy once he's met this girl. Okie dokie, then.
So I had issues with the characters. I liked them, but there were issues, and they were a clear impediment on my reading. I feel like the character development in this series is kind of poor. Just saying.
Would I Recommend It:
If you read the first book, then definitely read this book, because it's worth the read. If you haven't read either book, then you could pass on the series. I knew that I would like this book better, because I really liked Sam in the first book, so I wanted to see how things would work out for him. Read it if you were in the same boat as me, it's worth it!
3.5 stars -> rounded down to 3 stars. I definitely liked this book more than I liked the first book, but I still had issues with this book. I guess they're different issues though, which is good in a way. This isn't one of my favorite contemporary series, but I'm glad I gave this book (and Hooked) a chance!
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About the Author:
I'm an American author living in the American Southwest by way of Chicago.
Born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, after college, never expecting to live more than one year among cactus and people who’d never seen snow. I was wrong. It certainly didn't hurt that I met my future husband in Phoenix too.
Most of my stories are set in the American Southwest because I think the desert is a cool place. Living in Phoenix, I'm surrounded by Native American culture and influences, not to mention intriguing Hohokam petroglyphs and centuries-old canals. There are over 20 tribes in Arizona and I'm lucky to be neighbors to the Gila River and the Salt River Indian Communities.
When I'm not busy writing my next novel, I like to travel, visit museums, support local theater productions, hike, and pretend that I'm training for a triathlon. I post a lot of photos from my desert and mountain hikes on my Facebook and Twitter pages. In no particular order, I've been chased by javalinas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and even one curious black bear.