Check & Mate

Posted November 7, 2023 by Carole in Reviews / 10 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Check & MateCheck & Mate by Ali Hazelwood
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Penguin Random House Audio on November 7, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
Length: 9 hours 31 minutes
Pages: 368
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

In 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…)

I loved this! Who knew that the world of chess could be so exciting?! It definitely did not seem exciting when I sat at tournaments all day when my daughter was on the chess team. Sorry, kiddo. I actually found myself drawn to the part of the book that talked directly about the world of chess and the stress of the game. Ali Hazelwood has done a fantastic job with her YA Debut!

I liked Mallory and Nolan a lot and thought that they were great together but I really felt like this was Mallory’s story more than anything. She has incredible talent but gave up chess and feels like it is her responsibility to take care of her family. When she gets pulled back into the chess world, she promises herself to look at it as only a job. Nolan and Mallory had a whole lot in common and I loved watching them grow closer over the course of the story.

I listened to the audiobook and thought that Karissa Vacker did an amazing job with the story. I loved how much emotion was was able to add to her voice which really pulled me into the story. This narrator is quickly becoming a favorite of mine and this book is a perfect example of her work. I am certain that her performance only added to my enjoyment of this book.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a wonderful romance featuring characters that were easy to like. Mallory and Nolan had both been though a lot and I had a great time watching them find happiness with each other.

I received a review copy of this book from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers and Penguin Random House Audio.

10 responses to “Check & Mate

  1. Thanks for the review. I love the author’s adult romance books, but skipped this one because I’m not a big YA fan. But I’ve read reviews now and I think I would enjoy it. Thanks!

  2. I read The Love Hypothesis and really enjoyed it and I love the concept of this one! I really need to read more from this author!