Win PLAYED by Liz Fichera! Check Out My Review of HOOKED & GP with Liz!

PLAYED (Hooked #2)
by Liz Fichera
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 27th 2014


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.

"The book stands out in its nicely realistic portraits of the teens." (Kirkus)

"The plot is the perfect mix of real-life scenarios and swoon-worthy romance, while the issues of race and class that Fichera interweaves into the story add substance. In an alternating first-person narration style similar to Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, readers are given insight into the characters' thoughts and feelings. The tale sticks to the formula but the captivating ways in which the sequence of events plays out keep this take fresh and exciting." (School Library Journal)

This review was first posted on A Backwards Story
June 19, 2013. 

(I would have reviewed PLAYED instead, because I've been looking forward to it, but I saved reading it until this week and my file is corrupted. So instead, fall in love with HOOKED!)

When I first heard about HOOKED, I wasn't, well, hooked. The cover made it seem like a straight-forward romance.  But another book recently published by Harlequin Teen, PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry, also had a super-romancy cover that threw me. That book had so much depth, though, and was full of hard issues.  Harlequin Teen also recently published another novel with a hard-hitting subjects, SPEECHLESS by Hannah Harrington. I'm trying really hard not to stereotype when I see these covers from the publisher.  I took a closer look at HOOKED, especially after hearing early online buzz about it, and realized just how intriguing this book was going to be.  It delves into the hardships of being the only girl on an all-male sports team, of being a minority at school, of a strong father-daughter relationship, of all the trials Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday goes through in order to achieve her dreams.  HOOKED isn't a book to write off on first glance, and I'm glad I gave it a chance.

Fred isn't like all the other girls at school.  She's one of a handful of Native American kids born and raised on a nearby reservation. A lot of her classmates have unsavory prejudices against the reservation kids, so Fred has always felt "different." She stands out even more when she makes the decision to join the all-male golf team at school. Not only is she the best golfer on the team, but she's also taken away someone else's spot, someone who feels that a girl shouldn't even be on the team, especially not a reservation girl. He sets out to make her life hell so that she'll quit, and becomes even  angrier when his best friend starts falling for her...

I love all the diversity in HOOKED. It's one of the things I'm most drawn-to.  And a Native American girl who lives on a reservation? I can't remember ever seeing a girl like Fred in YA contemporary fiction.  I embraced her fully, and loved the way her community rallied around her and became so proud.  She was a true inspiration to so many people, and will be to many readers as well. I wasn't as fond of her love interest, Ryan, but he grows a lot over the course of the book and really grows up.  He's very human and makes mistakes, and I did like seeing a love interest that wasn't perfect for once, even if he could be aggravating at times.  Fichera also did a great job developing the relationship between Fred and her father.  I'm always excited to see strong parental figures in YA, and while Fred's mom wasn't anyone to write home about, her father was a great role model who supported Fred no matter what decision she chose.  I was so glad to have him on her team, rooting for her against all odds and just overall believing in her throughout the book. What a great dad!

Fred is also a great inspiration for girls who want to golf--or do any male-dominated sport.  She isn't afraid to go for her dream and ignores all the naysayers who pipe up after she makes the all-male team.  She practices all the time and truly loves the sport.  This shines through whenever she plays.  Most of the guys she plays against don't have her drive and dedication, making Fred stand out even more.  Fred will be a role model for so many girls, and I hope they all find a copy of HOOKED and don't give up on their dreams because of some jealous boys. She doesn't have the easiest life, but she keeps her head held high and achieves so much in life.

PLAYED (Hooked #2)
by Liz Fichera
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 27th 2014


When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile...

by Liz Fichera

A few years ago, I was visiting my sister and her family in Chicago.  My nephew, a tween at the time, was obsessed with baseball.  Still is, by the way, and he’s pretty darn good at it too.  But what I remembered most about this time in his baseball career was the lone girl who played on his team.  Like my nephew, she was baseball-obsessed. 

This little girl could hit, run bases, field balls, and spit out sunflower seeds in the dugout with the best of ‘em.  I remember thinking: go, you!  Dream big dreams, little one.  Don’t ever be discouraged that you’re the only girl on a boys’ team.  Don’t ever be discouraged that you might be considered different.

This little girl didn’t join the boys’ baseball team because she was trying to make a point.  She simply loved the game and wanted to compete and the boys’ Little League was her only option.  Fortunately the coaches recognized her enthusiasm, encouraged her and she thrived.   

One of the awesome benefits of young adult fiction, particularly contemporary fiction, is that teens get a glimpse of the what-ifs.  They’re dared to dream big dreams when they connect with relatable characters that refuse to limit themselves with societal conventions or life circumstances.  They’re shown that risk-taking, particularly those taken in the pursuit of a passion, can lead to accomplishment, personal satisfaction, and even unanticipated challenges and outcomes.       

Teens dream big.  They experience emotion at lightning speed and at Richter-scale levels.  But when your whole life stretches before you, what a perfect time to test your wings.  And what better and safer place than in the pages of a book.

When I was a kid, I devoured the Little House and Little Women books.  I’m pretty sure I set the record for having checked out On the Banks of Plum Creek more than any other student at Roosevelt Elementary School.  Nothing captured my imagination more than reading about a fearless girl who was less concerned about being “normal” and fitting in than venturing down roads less traveled.  Bonus points were given to any novel with main characters who lived in a culture or setting different from my own. 

Fast forward to present day young adult fiction.  Books like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, while fantasy, still contain fearless yet relatable characters that tweens and teens devour, even as they’re battling an oppressive regime or He Who Must Not Be Named.  The storylines may evolve and change with each new generation but the most relatable character motivations certainly have not.  Is Laura Ingalls any less brave or fearless than Katniss Everdeen in the pursuit of her goals or the protection of her family? 

In my debut contemporary young adult novel Hooked, a Native American teen girl named Fredricka “Fred” Oday dares to dream big dreams.  She joins the all boys’ Varsity golf team at her high school and her life changes in ways she never expected.  I’ve always been intrigued by characters that push the convention envelope in the sports arena.  In Hooked, not only does our fearless teen overcome barriers in the pursuit of golf excellence, but she also has to battle the constraints of her own culture.  Success does not—nor should not—come easily.

In twenty-five, fifty, even one-hundred years from now, I’m prepared to bet that authors will create new worlds, new obstacles, and perhaps even new sports.  However, I’d guess that the characters will still behave a lot like Fred Oday, Katniss Everdeen, and Laura Ingalls but perhaps with cooler names and hipper clothes.
This guest post was first posted on A Backwards Story
June 19, 2013.
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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.


One of the things that put Liz Fichera on my radar was the fact that she featured an athletic girl named Fred in her debut novel HOOKED.
Do you play a sport? What do you play?
Or if you just like to read about them/watch them, tell me which ones ^_^
I'm curious!

Win (1) signed copy of PLAYED by Liz Fichera (INT)


  1. I play ringette, it's a popular sport here in Canada that is much like hockey but there are a few differences. It was invented when girls were not allowed to play hockey so the creator made it so girls had something to do. My mother was one of the first to play in Saskatchewan


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