E-galley Review: Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

Posted November 4, 2023 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 13 Comments

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

E-galley Review:  Check & Mate by Ali HazelwoodCheck & Mate by Ali Hazelwood
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on November 7, 2023
Genres: NA Romance
Pages: 368
Source: the publisher
Format: E-galley
My Rating: four-half-stars
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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…)

My Review

I’ve loved all of this author’s adult romances, so I was very excited for what was touted as her first YA. Now, personally, I feel it might be a little more New Adult than YA, but not in a bad way. I’m just thinking of the age of the characters. However, besides that, I really did love it!

I used to play chess when I was younger, I had a grandpa who was really into it. I was never that good though. And when I was younger I wouldn’t say it was very popular. Nowadays, there are more chess clubs at schools, my current school has one that meets in the library at least once a week after school and then goes to tournaments once in a while. It was fun reading about all the different chess moves and strategies with their names and some of the real players. I did want to Google a lot of the chess moves though.

As I read I wondered just if the students in the chess club at my school would know all these different moves and be interested in reading it. Although sadly to say, our chess club is made up of mostly boys, just like this book discusses how chess is pretty dominantly men. I liked that aspect of this book. My first year at my current school there was at least one girl on the chess team. But she quit coming after a while. And I have to wonder if it had anything to do with the type of misogyny, known or unknown that even younger males may put out.

As usual Hazelwood includes romance or characters that aren’t your romance heteronorm. For instance, Mallory would probably be considered bi-sexual. And I almost wonder if Nolan could have been considered ACE(asexual) up until he met Mallory and finally felt an attraction that he hadn’t in the past. I also liked the kind of fate-destiny trope of how the two could have met when they were younger, but it wasn’t until Mallory was older and probably ready for the meeting. And I’m sure Nolan might not have been ready earlier before.

I enjoyed the story, liked how Mallory’s family was so real in how they behaved. How her sisters actions were really like what I could see teens that age doing. A wonderful steminista type of story and I’ll be putting it in my school library for sure, and seeing if I can get any of our chess club members interested, boys or girls!

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13 responses to “E-galley Review: Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

  1. danielle hammelef

    I also read an e-ARC and it was my first by this author. I loved the characters so much, especially the family relationships between the sisters. And I have guinea pigs and loved the hilarious piggy humor with Goliath (I think I’m remembering the name). I loved this book so much I want a final hard copy for my shelves.

    • Lisa Mandina

      Oh yeah, I loved the guinea pig too! I grew up having them, and even had a couple in my science classroom for a while when I was teaching. I gave in and got the Book of the Month Club version of it coming with my monthly choice!

    • Lisa Mandina

      It was really technical in some parts, and I am not that into chess these days, so had to look a few thing up.

  2. This sounds good. I do love the author’s adult titles, but I’m not a big YA reader, so I skipped this one. However, reading your review and noting the age of the characters, it sounds like this one wouldn’t bug me like a lot of YA books do. Thanks!

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