Monday, January 15, 2024

REVIEW: Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood



Ali Hazelwood's seem to always be a good time so when I saw Check & Mate on my library's Libby app (I highly recommend using this app, by the way), I immediately requested it. Because I was so quick to request it, I didn't have to wait long to get it and then I immediately consumed it in the matter of 24 hours. I'm sure the person next in line to get it was happy to see it was ready to read and will probably also read it quickly. You really can't help it; the characters of Nolan and Mallory and the conflicts they find themselves in are so dang readable. I don't think I've ever been as interested in chess as I was watching The Queen's Gambit and this novel came along and reignited my admiration for those who play it. Playing chess is way beyond my attention span and ability to think so far ahead about my moves and someone else's. 


Mallory and Nolan make an interesting pair. She's in full denial and he's in full acceptance of ...well, so many things. Mallory is so busy taking care of her family and trying to make amends for something she feels personally responsible for that she's forsaken everything that makes her happy and who she is. Nolan seems to have come to terms about the uncomfortable truths in his life and is now living a life that makes him happy. So polar opposite, right? Right. But as they get to know each other, spend time with each other, and fall for each other, his knowing himself so well, ends up sparking an evolution in Mallory, even if that wasn't his intention or her desire. 

While this is listed as a YA novel, it seems more NA to me? But no matter how it's categorized, it's a fun, sweet, sexy, and interesting romance that will be hard to put down until you get to the end. As a matter of fact, I'm still thinking about these two and wondering how they're doing, hours after I finished their love story.  Definitely an enjoyable read.


n this clever and swoonworthy YA debut from the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis, life’s moving pieces bring rival chess players together in a match for the heart.

Mallory Greenleaf is 
done with chess. Every move counts nowadays; after the sport led to the destruction of her family four years earlier, Mallory’s focus is on her mom, her sisters, and the dead-end job that keeps the lights on. That is, until she begrudgingly agrees to play in one last charity tournament and inadvertently wipes the board with notorious “Kingkiller” Nolan Sawyer: current world champion and reigning Bad Boy of chess.

Nolan’s loss to an unknown rook-ie shocks everyone. What’s even more confusing? His desire to cross pawns again. What kind of gambit is Nolan playing? The smart move would be to walk away. Resign. Game over. But Mallory’s victory opens the door to sorely needed cash-prizes and despite everything, she can’t help feeling drawn to the enigmatic strategist....

As she rockets up the ranks, Mallory struggles to keep her family safely separated from the game that wrecked it in the first place. And as her love for the sport she so desperately wanted to hate begins to rekindle, Mallory quickly realizes that the games aren’t only on the board, the spotlight is brighter than she imagined, and the competition can be fierce (-ly attractive. And intelligent…and infuriating…)

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