G.P. Putnam's Sons | 7 November 2023 | 368 pgs
Source: Purchased 

I've not read Ali Hazelwood's books until now and what a delightful read this book is! 

18-year-old Mallory Greenleaf has been playing chess since young but after the sport led her family apart four years ago (the truth is later revealed in the book), she's sworn off playing chess and focus on taking care of her (sick) mother and her two younger sisters as she works as a car mechanic to pay the bills. Although she's given up on playing chess, a chance request eventually led her to play in one last charity tournament and she begrudgingly agrees to it. Little did she know that she'd be playing against Nolan Sawyer, the notorious "Kingkiller"/current world champion and reigning Bad Boy of chess. 

After she beat Nolan which shocked and rocked the chess world, Mallory is offered a fellowship that allows her to play professionally. Torn between a battle between financial and her sentiments towards playing chess, she finally decides on a practical approach by accepting it. 

Mallory gradually finds her momentum and her passion back the more she play, and she also can't help feeling drawn to Nolan, who appears to be cold and aloof but is actually a reserved and a considerate person behind that mask. As Mallory practises hard for the next tournaments, she'll soon find out that changing the misogynistic attitudes in a chess world mostly dominated by men is as challenging as the sport itself. Would she be able to change the perspective as she reconcile with what happened four years ago? 

I've to admit I know nothing about chess and this book has been an eye-opening experience to me. Through Mallory’s journey I learned a lot about chess and that it isn't simply about your opponents and strategies but there's also a lot of hard work involving analysing, studying and well, more studying. Of course patience plays an important part, too! I loved Mallory as a character; and all the more as how responsible she was being the eldest sibling. My heart ached for her considering how she acted so much matured as compared to the others of the same age.

Onto Nolan Sawyer. I liked how he was protective towards Mallory, although he wouldn't say it out loud but his actions said everything especially during the interview. And, I loved the interactions between him and Mallory; and his teammates too. Ali Hazelwood has captured the cast of characters well and I enjoyed seeing the characters grow as the story gradually come to an end, in particularly Mallory. This brilliant girl. . . I rooted for her all the way from the beginning till the end and I'm glad she didn't disappoint. This book warmed my heart and well, you can bet I'll be looking forward to reading more books by this author in future. 

I've been slacking in my blog updates, blog hopping and commenting lately and I apologise for that. I think procrastination and watching K-dramas also play a part in that too, although I enjoy doing the latter and don't want to feel guilty for doing that, LOL. 

So what've I been watching lately? Vigilante and Memorist. Both are crime thrillers and while the former has a dark superhero vibe, the latter has a supernatural element (imagine a detective who could scan others' memories through touching). Both are great dramas in my opinion, but I felt there are too many suspense layers and red herrings in Memorist that I felt disconnected at times. And who wouldn't love a superhero who takes justice in his own hands in Vigilante? All the more that actor Nam Joo Hyuk is eye-candy dressed in police uniform! 

Finally, I'll be taking a short break off of blogging and I hope you've a wonderful Christmas holidays ahead! 🎄
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14 Responses
  1. Harvee Says:

    I was reluctant to ask for Check and Mate but I see it was informative as well as a fun rom com, so I may change my mind. Thanks for the review. Have a wonderful holiday, and see you in the new year!

  2. Lark Says:

    I love playing chess and I love Ali Hazelwood's stories, so I'm really looking forward to reading Check & Mate. :D And I'm glad you found some fun K-dramas to watch. Enjoy your Christmas break! (And watch for my Christmas's on the way.)

  3. Kay Says:

    Melody, hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday time! See you next year!

  4. Melody Says:

    Harvee - It was a fun romcom for me and I hope you'll enjoy it when you get to it. :)

  5. Melody Says:

    Lark - Thank you in advance for the Christmas card, Lark! I hope mine has reached you. :D

  6. Melody Says:

    Kay - Thank you, Kay! Merry Christmas to you and your family too! :)

  7. Greg Says:

    Sounds like a fun read, espeially with the chess elements. And The Memorist has a neat premise. I've been watching more K- shows.

    Have a great holidays!!!

  8. Greg Says:

    Sorry if this is a duplicate comment! I was just thinking the Memorist has a neat premise.

  9. Melody Says:

    Greg - I've the same thoughts about Memorist too. Hope you'll enjoy it if you get to watch it, Greg.

  10. Melody Says:

    Greg - I just noticed that Blogger marked your first comment as spam. Urgh!

    You too have a great holidays!

  11. Harvee Says:

    Goodreads readers gave Check Mate highest points in their book contest, under YA I believe. Worth reading, it looks like. Have a good week.

  12. Melody Says:

    Harvee - I enjoyed reading this book so I'm glad it made it on Goodreads Best YA. You too have a great week!

  13. Iliana Says:

    Melody I hope you are enjoying the holiday season with your loved ones! I haven't read any Ali Hazelwood books but she's one author I'd like to check out soon. This sounds like a sweet romance.

  14. Melody Says:

    Iliana - This was a sweet YA romance IMO. I'll definitely check out other books by Ali Hazelwood since so many readers seem to love her books. :)

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