Book Buzz Episode 54 – Coven and Check & Mate

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Air date: June 16, 2024

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Check & Mate

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Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the assistant director of collection services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz. 

Today's two reading recommendations both include strong female protagonists with special skills. 

First, we’re going to hear from Michael, library associate at the Mariner Library, for a bewitching tale of a struggling teen. Take it away, Michael. 


“Coven” is a graphic novel that has magic to it, both in the art by Kit Seaton, that is superb and elegantly drawn, and in the story by Jennifer Dugan. "Coven” is about a high school girl that can create fire from her hands. Her family members are magic users and when tragedy comes to the family’s doorstep Esmy and her parents have to trace their roots back to New York to help.    

Some of my favorite books deal with many diverse subjects. They are not always easy to read, but the struggles help define and teach the reader to subjectively look at the world around us. This book does just that, it uses metaphor to explore the idea that life can feel like one thing in a moment but take on another aspect entirely as Esmy moves through what is happening around her and learns how to grow up safely and resiliently. The ending has a twist that is obvious as you read it, however it is still satisfying.    

The author, Jennifer Dugan, is an activist and founder of the You Are Loved college project which moves to support students going through tough times. Ultimately, her activism and storytelling is about empowering each one of us to get through tough times and struggles. 


Thanks, Michael! Beware of teens with supernatural powers! 

Next, let’s hear about a story of romance and rivalry, from Jennifer, librarian at the Mill Creek Library. Over to you, Jennifer.  


I don’t know about you, but these long days have me thinking about the pleasures of summer: hot weather, cold beverages, and books that are light and fun. “Check & Mate” by Ali Hazelwood is a humorous rom-com that hit the spot like an ice-cold glass of lemonade. 

Mallory Greenleaf’s meet-cute with Nolan Sawyer is unusual, to say the least. She’s an auto mechanic; he’s the world’s number-one ranked Chess Grandmaster, nicknamed “The Kingkiller.” They play at a charity tournament, and Mallory stuns the world of chess by winning. 

From there we’re off to the races, with Mallory accepting a chess fellowship and winning tournaments. She doesn’t love the publicity, but she needs the cash prizes. And of course, she can’t help but be intrigued by her handsome new rival, Nolan Sawyer. 

This is a funny and fast-paced read. Our heroine is a burned-out mess who has a bit of growing up to do over the course of the book, and in Nolan she meets the perfect book boyfriend: unreasonably attractive and unfailingly devoted. I think the chess-world setting is what makes this book stand out from other romance novels: it’s a hoot. 

If you’re looking for a quick, cute novel with low angst and lots of humor, look no further than “Check & Mate.” It’s a perfect treat for a summer’s day. 


Thanks, Jennifer! You don’t have to be a fan of chess to enjoy this book. 

Our recommendations this week are: "Coven” by Jennifer Dugan and “Check & Mate” by Ali Hazelwood. 

Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations — interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.   

Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.  

Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER. 

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