Cover Image: Queen of the Tiles

Queen of the Tiles

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Member Reviews

I absolutely adored the way that Scrabble was woven into everything. Not just the plot, but the personalities of the characters, the prose. It was absolutely delightful and kept me on my toes the entire time!
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This was a heartwrenching book that had me on the edge of my seat. It's one of my best reads of the year thus far, and I'm constantly in awe of how Alkaf weaves stories. The plot twists absolutely blindsided me, and I can't wait for her next book.
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Queen of the Tiles has such a great premise - a Scrabble tournament is a fantastic, fresh background for a whodunit, and I thoroughly enjoyed the integration of Scrabble into the mystery, as well as into protagonist Najwa's personal journey with grief and her mental well-being. The prose was fun, the characters solid, and the Gossip Girl-y vibe of the mystery instagrammer added to the drama - but the mystery itself was the unfortunate letdown for me. There were a few weird inconsistencies in the logic that I just couldn't get past, and an over-reliance on conveniences like "I have something important to tell you! The important thing is...[well-timed interruption]". Ultimately, I found the solution predictable not because I'm a secretly brilliant detective (if only), but because I know how books work, and this one lampshaded its culprit through structural choices rather than internal clues. 

Still, it's a pretty fun, fast read for young mystery fans, and I hope to read more by Hanna Alkaf in the future.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for the ARC!
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I wasn't really sure what to expect from this story, but I really enjoyed it. I love Scrabble and loved the competition and energy of the Scrabble tournament. It has been a year since the death of Najwa's best friend, Trina, and she is determined to win the tournament in Trina's honor. The only issue is that rumors continue to spread about what happened to her, how she died, and there are suspects aplenty. Najwa is just trying to make it through her games and I LOVE that the game of Scrabble is what grounds her. But then she gets sucked into trying to figure out what happened to her. This was a very suspenseful mystery, but I will say that the ending was somewhat anticlimactic. I just wanted something a little more. But I will definitely be reading more from this author.
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Queen of the Tiles introduces an exciting new voice to both the YA industry and to Malaysian literature. It is so heartening to see something of this quality come from the region and it truly deserves more hype.
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After Trina “Queen of the Tiles” Low dies suddenly in the middle of a heated Scrabble championship, her friend Najwa backs away from the Scrabble circuit as she grieves. Fast forward to the same competition a year later in Kuala Lumpur, where she is determined to claim the empty throne in Trina’s honor. As the championship weekend kicks off, dark enigmatic messages emerge from the dead girl’s Instagram account, implying foul play. Najwa and some of her Scrabble cohorts investigate to bring justice for Trina. Secrets begin unraveling, providing clues and red herrings as to who is responsible for the demise of the former champion. Alkaf’s protagonist is Malaysian and a hijabi Muslim woman, like herself. The cast encompasses lesser-represented Southeast Asian characters in YA lit, including Chinese and Indian in a Malaysian setting. Mental health is also explored via therapy, panic attacks, and grief. The author provides content warnings for on-page death; descriptions of anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks; and discussions of grief and loss. The fast-paced plot will have even the most reluctant of readers turning pages to uncover the culprit. Word nerds will embrace the puzzle references and attempt to solve them. A special treat is each chapter heading, which contains a Scrabble word, numeric value, and a definition that foreshadows the ensuing chapter.VERDICT Genius wordplay, fantastic representation, and a tense whodunit make this one to recommend.- My review in May 2022 SLJ
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This book is for you if you’re into:
* YA thriller with a murder mystery
* Scrabbles aka big brain things
* Detective things
* Muslim reps & diversified characters!
* Shocking twist
* A wild rollercoaster ride 

I LOVE LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! The way Hanna had me in a chokehold from the start to finish left me gasping countless times. I had so many theories about who the murderer could be and when I was proved wrong, it left me completely in shambles cause I thought I was so close to solving it but nooooo, I did not. Hanna - 1, Joseph - 0 😤

One of my favourite things about this book is the writing. Like her two previous books that I’ve read, the writing for this book is exceptional and obviously didn’t disappoint. The words the author used and how beautifully each sentence is structured and crafted, really enhanced and captured my attention complete (I have terrible attention span concentration in case y’all are unaware lol). The characters in this book aren’t perfect and are flawed and they each show brilliant developments as the book progress.

The whole Sherlock Holmes detective plot🕵️ was so fun to read!! Some parts had me holding my breath as if I was gonna get caught at a crime scene. But my absolute favourite thing was the plot twist and the ending. That legit had me on a chokehold, gasping in awe like my jaw is on the floor!!!

Overall, I’ll rate this a solid 4.5 stars! I am truly honoured to receive this e-ARC from the author and please pick a copy up for yourself!!
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I had a difficult time getting into the book and DNFd it unfortunately. The pacing was slow and the plot uninteresting in my opinion.
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Hello, I was NOT expecting a murder mystery. This was so fast-paced, I was sucked in immediately and couldn't put it down. Was also not expecting to be so invested in a Scrabble competition, but there I was, on the edge of my seat along with the other characters.

I've always been a huge fan of the way Hanna Alkaf writes, and after The Weight of Our Sky, I had high hopes for this one and it absolutely delivered. Seeing a hijabi MC in a very nerdy setting was so soothing for my soul (I also went to very nerdy competitions as a hijabi in school). I usually can predict a little bit when it comes to murder mysteries but I really didn't see this one coming!

Highly recommend this one!
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book! All opinions are my own.

Najwa Bakri just wants to play Scrabble. She hasn't played since her best friend, Trina Low, dropped dead at last year’s “Weekend Warrior” Scrabble competition. This year, though, she’s here to win: If anyone is going to replace Trina as Queen of the Tiles, it’s Najwa. But when someone starts to post from Trina’s Instagram account and long buried feuds are uncovered, the weekend becomes much more complicated than a simple Scrabble competition.

Queen of the Tiles is a wonderful suspense-mystery with engaging characters and plot. Najwa’s journey with her grief is raw and emotional and made me feel like she was a real person. Her unreliability as a narrator was also really intriguing. Learning about Trina (absolute girlboss btw) through Najwa’s lenses, and then having that contradicted by other characters was super cool. The other characters were equally interesting, and though there were many to keep track of, each was given a distinct voice and personality that made them easy to differentiate. In short, this was one of the best YA mysteries I've ever read and I wish I could read it again for the first time.
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Holy shit this was such an intense read , I loved the mystery and how the while world was set up. Queen of the tiles is definitely gonna be one of my favs
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queen of the tiles is a very well-written thriller, it's got an amazing cast of characters and it's paced perfectly. the writing style hit me instantly and i was completely taken aback by the wordplay and the anagrams. the author is amazing when it comes to words and you can tell this is a book that’s throughoutly researched. i read this novel in a day, as it's a story that’s not overly complicated, although it is a mystery. i simply could not put it down. 

the characters in this novel are truly amazing - each of them has their own distinct, unique voice. you can tell them apart from one another and i was in awe at that. even the one that's dead is characterised so well, that you feel you knew her. i didn't think i would ever love reading about characters that play scrabble, but here we are. the book also deals with grief and how hard it is to cope with a loved one's death and i loved how real it felt. it didn't shy away from showing us how incapacitating death can be and how hard it is to move on, especially since you feel like the world keeps going without you. it also talks about anxiety and trauma and it does an amazingly well job with that, as well. the friendships in this one were complicated and flawed and extremely real - we see both the good and the bad. teenagers are messy and i truly appreciated how the book doesn't try to make it all black or white. 

the mystery was solid. i was never bored by the twists and turns and i definitely didn't see the ending coming at first. plus, solving it alongside the main character was really fun. najwa is such a smart character and i loved how even when i thought she was finally defeated, she still had something up her sleeve. it was refreshing to see a smart character actually make smart choices for once. even though the book is set in a short period of time it never felt rushed to me. 

so, queen of the tiles is an amazing book by an author i just discovered, but i will definitely start reading more by them because this one was brilliant!
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As I have established in my other reviews, I am a cover snob. Or at the very least I always judge a book by its cover - and this cover is beautiful. When I saw it I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. 

This is a fun little murder mystery that mixes murder, mystery, friendships, scrabble, and representation. What more can a nerd girl like me ask for? Though more of a YA title, I couldn't put this book down and found myself blazing through the pages in one sitting. 

The writing is well done and brings something new and fresh to the YA world especially for the mystery genre. The characters were fun to get to know and you found yourself truly invested in their wellbeing. I hope that we will get to see more books like this as we move forward.
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This book feels like it was written for my high school self: Scrabble, mystery, friendships, and anxiety. Since I grew up reading books by Western authors whose contexts are very different from my own, I can't help but cry over a book that mirrors my school life so closely than anything I've read before.
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Reasons I loved Queen of the Tiles:
   ↦ YA Murder Mystery
   ↦ Mental Health—positive counselor experiences,  ways to help panic attacks and negative self talk, and discussions of PTSD
   ↦  Scrabble 💕
   ↦  Allusions to my fav things (Gilmore Girls & Poirot )
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I really enjoyed this book! I finished it in one sitting and it definitely got me out of a reading slump. I loved how scrabble and wordplay were incorporated into the story, as well as the characters and their different relationships. The writing really pulled me into the setting and the thrill of the competition. I also like how we're shown the different ways people grieve, and how the loss of a loved one affects you. Definitely recommend this and the author's other works.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. But I did actually end up listening to the finished audiobook that I borrowed from my local library.
I didn’t love this book like I thought it was going to. I thought that it was lacking in a few of my favorite things about mystery/thrillers. There was a real lack of suspense and little to no stakes for the story to just go “ha ha no one did it?” It felt like nothing happened the whole book. A murder mystery should have the stakes slowly raised and I feel like that didn’t happen. It felt like we just did a character-by-character investigation with a backstory with each of the characters. I honestly could have gone for a little info-dumping over the oversharing that I feel like we got with this story.
I still liked the idea of a competitive scrabble community. I’m sure this is something that exists out there and I love it. Really niche hobbies like this are really interesting to me. I really liked how the main character had turned her love for scrabble into an incredible vocabulary.
I did like Najwa. The way that she thought was really engaging for the story. She’s the reason that I finished the book even though I didn’t really love the story. I did I love the casual mention of putting her hijab on and things like that which we get a few times in the book.
While I didn’t love this one, I think it was an issue with my reading lately, and not the fault of the story. I will still be recommending this one in the future.
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Thank you Simon for giving me the opportunity to review this book! 
This is my favorite book of the year so far!! 
I absolutely loved the book. I was absolutely nerve-wracking, and it had my nerves fringed and my brain anticipating what would happen next. 

Queen of the Tiles, a thrilling mystery will keep you begging for more, and it will keep you flipping through the pages without thought. The book is set in Malaysia which had me jumping with joy, because there was also up to date and amazing representation that made me so happy because I'm trying to find books with representation, especially muslim rep, and the fact that I found one has me ecstatic! 

The book was so interesting and refreshing, giving me an extra doze of energy and a new spark of interest in mystery novels. It is so different from the Fantasy I usually read, and I am here for it! 
This was a great mystery, and I was very invested with the plot and the story that was being unfolded before the reader. 
And I loved how the author included scrabble words and told us the descriptions! It just made the games set in the story more lively, and it made the reader understand more about the characters life and her love for Scrabble. 

As for the writing, it was absolutely amazing! The author had woven the clues so neatly into the plot that it had left me so clueless! I absolutely loved the fact that not only was the character discovering what was happening, but so was I. I was second-guessing myself so many times, checking wether or not the clues were right or not, and honestly thats such a cool game to play! 
The author also speaks about the Character's feelings so clearly and I like that. 

This book reminds me so much of the Queen's Gambit, which is a show I love, and so you can tell how excited and happy this makes me!
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Ah, every fantastic YA thriller shook up with Scrabble and a hijab-wearing girl mourning the *very* sudden death of her friend, the "queen of the tiles" at a tournament. 

A year later, Najwa is still recovering from her grief and PTSD from the event but then a mysterious Instagram pops up and gives her the push to be a bit like Pippa from [book:A Good Girl's Guide to Murder|40916679] and try to solve what has still remained a mystery-- the answers weren't good enough and there's some shady sh*t going on in those tournaments from a cocktail blend of vitamins and prescriptions to cheating scandals and backstabbing. 

It brings something new and smart to the subgenre and I thoroughly enjoyed both the mystery as well as the cast of characters including the red herrings however Najwa's sister seemed to want to be a bigger part of the story than she ever ended up getting in the story. Those Scrabble fiends! A perfect thriller with representation, intelligence, and intrigue.
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3 stars = solid, fine

This had moments of potential, but the Scrabble angle didn't grab me and neither did the characters or the ending. The suspense was enough to keep me turning pages until the end to find out what happened, but it wasn't a satisfying reading experience for me.
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