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Queen of the Tiles

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They Wish They Were Us meets The Queen’s Gambit in the world of competitive Scrabble when a teen girl is forced to investigate the mysterious death of her best friend a year after the fact when her Instagram comes back to life with cryptic posts and messages. CATALYST 13 points noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change When Najwa Bakri walks into her firs They Wish They Were Us meets The Queen’s Gambit in the world of competitive Scrabble when a teen girl is forced to investigate the mysterious death of her best friend a year after the fact when her Instagram comes back to life with cryptic posts and messages. CATALYST 13 points noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet. But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it. As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.


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They Wish They Were Us meets The Queen’s Gambit in the world of competitive Scrabble when a teen girl is forced to investigate the mysterious death of her best friend a year after the fact when her Instagram comes back to life with cryptic posts and messages. CATALYST 13 points noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change When Najwa Bakri walks into her firs They Wish They Were Us meets The Queen’s Gambit in the world of competitive Scrabble when a teen girl is forced to investigate the mysterious death of her best friend a year after the fact when her Instagram comes back to life with cryptic posts and messages. CATALYST 13 points noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet. But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it. As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

30 review for Queen of the Tiles

  1. 4 out of 5

    aly ☆彡 (slow response; is sick)

    This is the first book I've read by Hanna Alkaf which I've always wanted to try. Too bad, her previous genres were not really up to my alley. But as soon as I found out we'd be getting a mystery-themed on a Scrabble game, I knew I couldn't pass it up. And as a first-timer, I am blown away by her writing. I think it was what kept me going into binge-read this in five hours. I am so amazed by her choice of words, her metaphors inkling with the Malay culture were so inventive yet it was so easy to This is the first book I've read by Hanna Alkaf which I've always wanted to try. Too bad, her previous genres were not really up to my alley. But as soon as I found out we'd be getting a mystery-themed on a Scrabble game, I knew I couldn't pass it up. And as a first-timer, I am blown away by her writing. I think it was what kept me going into binge-read this in five hours. I am so amazed by her choice of words, her metaphors inkling with the Malay culture were so inventive yet it was so easy to read. I enjoy the book too, (it's not anti-climatic) but I was a bit let down by the turn of events. Queen of the Tiles does corroborate to being a mystery, but after the ending, I don't think that is what it was. This feels like a setup to a balk. Probably because I was expecting more but... bottom line: the writing is still brilliant. Full RTC

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hanna Alkaf

    I mean...I wrote it, so. ALSO, if you're looking for content warnings: On-page death, descriptions of anxiety/PTSD/panic attacks, discussions of grief and loss. I mean...I wrote it, so. ALSO, if you're looking for content warnings: On-page death, descriptions of anxiety/PTSD/panic attacks, discussions of grief and loss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lia Carstairs

    it took me awhile to get into the book but after the halfway mark i got really invested! i loved the wordplay and never imagined enjoying a mystery revolving around scrabble the diversity !! was amazing !! and it was set in malaysia which is such a nice change of scenery compared to typical setting in the US. also the anxiety rep and how grief was handled in here >>> i definitely will be reading more books by this author RTC (3.5⭐) Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me an ARC in exchange f it took me awhile to get into the book but after the halfway mark i got really invested! i loved the wordplay and never imagined enjoying a mystery revolving around scrabble the diversity !! was amazing !! and it was set in malaysia which is such a nice change of scenery compared to typical setting in the US. also the anxiety rep and how grief was handled in here >>> i definitely will be reading more books by this author RTC (3.5⭐) Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!! __________ MURDER MYSTERY WITH MUSLIM MC YES YES YES YES

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    ICONIC UNPARALLELED PEERLESS SUPERLATIVE INIMITABLE MASTERPIECE SENSATION Hanna Alkaf digs deep into the complexities of flawed friendships, jealousy, anger, trauma, and grief using Scrabble of all things, and she does it masterfully. I started reading this literally three hours ago and read it in one sitting. I simply couldn't put it down. Some favorite things: ⤁ It's a murder mystery featuring a Muslim hijabi protagonist! What's not to love? ⤁ The absolute nerdiness of this book's entire concept ICONIC UNPARALLELED PEERLESS SUPERLATIVE INIMITABLE MASTERPIECE SENSATION Hanna Alkaf digs deep into the complexities of flawed friendships, jealousy, anger, trauma, and grief using Scrabble of all things, and she does it masterfully. I started reading this literally three hours ago and read it in one sitting. I simply couldn't put it down. Some favorite things: ⤁ It's a murder mystery featuring a Muslim hijabi protagonist! What's not to love? ⤁ The absolute nerdiness of this book's entire concept instantly captured my attention. I'm no Scrabble player, but I'm a lover of words, and I related deeply to the way Najwa users words and their meanings to make sense of the world and events around her. ⤁ Books written by SEA authors set in SEA are just so special to me. There's just something about seeing your unique regional experiences set in a book that tugs at my heartstrings! You definitely don't want to miss this book! 🌿 Read my full review here! 🌿

  5. 4 out of 5

    ⛅ Saniya (sunnysidereviews) ⛅

    -Murder mystery -Muslim MC -Malaysian rep -SCRABBLE Competition!! As someone who has been obsessed with scrabble since the start of time, I am beyond excited for this!

  6. 4 out of 5

    luce ❀ wishfully reading ❀

    ❀ blog ❀ thestorygraph ❀ letterboxd ❀ tumblr ❀ ko-fi ❀ 3 ¼ stars “But life, like Scrabble, is like that—you get the rack you get, and you just have to figure out how to make do.” Queen of the Tiles is an entertaining mystery romp that belongs to that subgenre of YA books that combines a whodunnit type of storyline with the kind of teen dynamics at play in Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. Similarly to a lot of these books, Queen of the Tiles takes place in a ‘confined’ setting, but rather than ❀ blog ❀ thestorygraph ❀ letterboxd ❀ tumblr ❀ ko-fi ❀ 3 ¼ stars “But life, like Scrabble, is like that—you get the rack you get, and you just have to figure out how to make do.” Queen of the Tiles is an entertaining mystery romp that belongs to that subgenre of YA books that combines a whodunnit type of storyline with the kind of teen dynamics at play in Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. Similarly to a lot of these books, Queen of the Tiles takes place in a ‘confined’ setting, but rather than going for the usual prep school/high school type of backdrop, Hanna Alkaf freshens things up by having her story take place during the World Warrior Weekend, an annual Scrabble competition. This tournament takes place in a hotel in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, a setting that, you must admit, we don’t get to see often in YA. Additionally, our lead is Muslim, and we also get a very casual non-binary rep with Shuba. The story definitely has some strong The Queen’s Gambit vibes and the author depicts the various Scrabble games in a really fun and dynamic way (so that they are anything but boring) and we can see just how devoted and ambitious some of the competitors are. Najwa Bakri, our narrator, is taking part in this tournament, the first one she's done since the very sudden death of her best friend. “Every player knows that words can be twisted to suit your purpose, if the board allows it, and Trina knows this better than most. She is fantastic; she ignites fantasies. She is spectacular; she attracts spectacle.” Trina Low died during the previous year's World Warrior Weekend. Since her death, Najwa has distanced herself from the Scrabble world, but she finds herself going back to claim Trina’s former title, that of the Queen of the Tiles. She knows that people who didn’t like Trina, and who were in turn not liked by her, are also vying for that title, and Najwa isn’t ready to give them the satisfaction of winning. Competing again however proves harder than it used to be now that Najwa is struggling with anxiety and trauma caused by Trina’s premature death. The author is really thoughtful in the way she articulates Najwa's grieving process, capturing just how suddenly grief can engulf you, regardless of how much time has passed since the person you cared for died. Alkaf also shows how grief manifests differently in different people. Things get harder when new posts appear on Trina’s long inactive insta. Cryptic posts hinting that her death may have been very much not an accident. Joining a long tradition of kid-turned-detectives such as Nancy Drew and the Scooby-Doo gang (both of which get mentioned in the story), Najwa begins solving the posts’ ominous word puzzles and starts questioning the other competitors, most of whom were foes of Trina. There is the pompous boy she was competing against when she died, who seemed less concerned by her dropping dead than verifying whether her death meant he’d automatically won that final round. There is Trina’s ‘other’ best-friend, an ostensibly nice and obsequious girl whose subservience to Trina definitely gives off sycophantic vibes. There is that girl who was caught in a cheating scandal, and Trina may have been responsible for stoking those cheating rumours. And, of course, Trina’s off-and-on again boyfriend Mark, a possessive type who may have grown tired of Trina’s and what he perceived to be as her ‘blasé’ attitude. While Najwa has always been aware of Trina’s thorny character, and her need to prove herself and to one-up others, during the course of her ‘amateur’ investigation she will be forced to really confront the kind of person Trina was. “That’s just how she was; she saw something she wanted and she went for it with a laser-sharp intensity that could border on the obsessive. All or nothing, perfection or perish.” I liked the drama, the secrecy, the rumours and gossip. The Scrabble element was really well delivered and it worked really well for the mystery clues. My only quibbles are 1) throughout the story Najwa links words that are being used or were used in a game to her past or present situation. Sometimes this was effective, but the more this device was used, the less impactful it became, and at times I found the connection between word and situation to be a bit far-fetched 2) Najwa's 'tells' got pretty annoying. The characters weren’t particularly fleshed out or memorable, some were verged on being rather silly but this subgenre isn’t exactly known for having uber nuanced characters so it didn’t really negatively impact my reading experience. I would have however liked for Trina to have been portrayed in a slightly different light, as she ultimately seems a bit of a mean queen-bee cliché. I liked the lack of romance and Najwa made for a rather endearing protagonist. Their resolution to the mystery was a bit of a letdown, as I found the identity of the person behind those posts far too obvious. It would have been more satisfying to make someone else the culprit. There was also a metaphor about Mark being "a conquistador, trying to impose his will on Trina, colonize her spirit and reap her charms for himself, bend her to his definition of what a girlfriend ought to be" which struck me as a rather unhappy comparison to make. In general, I did like the references we get, especially when they added a dose of humor and levity to the story's ongoings (“Honestly. Murder. What do you think this is, an episode of Riverdale?"). Still, I found this engrossing and fun read. If you are looking for a light-hearted whodunnit that focuses on a group of ambitious and possibly backstabby professional scrabblers, look no further.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rameela (Star)

    initial thoughts: i just finished it in two hours all i knew about it was that it had scrabble and i never actually read the rest of the synopsis SO IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN IT WAS A MURDER MYSTERY THAT GAVE ME INHERITANCE GAMES/KNIVES OUT VIBES AND HOW WE FALL APART VIBES BUT BETTER

  8. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    Okay, so it gets a little ridiculous, but it's still engaging as hell, and filled with twisty, turny plot-twists that rival a 90s teen slasher film (minus the slashing). Plus, it has Scrabble, and an interesting take on a locked room murder mystery where the murder happened a year ago and the detective was a witness but also has trauma-based amnesia from watching her best friend die suddenly in front of her. It's a solid read, with a lot of crossover appeal between MG and YA readers. Full RTC. I re Okay, so it gets a little ridiculous, but it's still engaging as hell, and filled with twisty, turny plot-twists that rival a 90s teen slasher film (minus the slashing). Plus, it has Scrabble, and an interesting take on a locked room murder mystery where the murder happened a year ago and the detective was a witness but also has trauma-based amnesia from watching her best friend die suddenly in front of her. It's a solid read, with a lot of crossover appeal between MG and YA readers. Full RTC. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  9. 4 out of 5

    Salma19 (High Lady of the Dawn Court)

    *Muslim me who loves playing Scrabble* AHH GIVE IT TO ME! 😍

  10. 5 out of 5

    A Book Shrew

    ENTHRALLED 14 Points Definition - how I felt inhaling this book Full review and more at A Book Shrew Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC! I wasn't really sure what to expect of a book described as The Queen's Gambit but with Scrabble and murder, but I do know I am incredibly thrilled that this fell into my lap. This is a murder mystery that takes place over the course of a Scrabble weekend tournament in a Malaysian hotel, exactly one year after the so-called Queen of Tiles Trina ENTHRALLED 14 Points Definition - how I felt inhaling this book Full review and more at A Book Shrew Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC! I wasn't really sure what to expect of a book described as The Queen's Gambit but with Scrabble and murder, but I do know I am incredibly thrilled that this fell into my lap. This is a murder mystery that takes place over the course of a Scrabble weekend tournament in a Malaysian hotel, exactly one year after the so-called Queen of Tiles Trina Low suddenly died in the middle of her game. Najwa was her best friend, and after a year off the Scrabble circuit, she's back to claim the title on behalf of Trina. Except someone isn't willing to let what happened last year go, and a lot of secrets are ready to be revealed. This was just so darn good! I could not put it down at all. It is so well-thought out as a whole and kept me on my toes all the way through. Alkaf crafted an incredible mystery that never once faltered. For one, it is clever as heck! The use of word play took my breath away. First, some of these words are insane? I don't know how adept Alkaf is at playing Scrabble but she must have dug deep to get some of these words/definitions to fit. I mean, the anagrams that pop up on Trina's instagram? The words that have two completely different meanings yet apply perfectly to every situation they appear in? Absolute masterpiece. I was worried the short timespan of only a few days would hinder the trajectory of the mystery, but that was foolish of me. Not once did this feel rushed or half-assed. Everything was discovered in perfect time and realistically so. It kept me wholly engaged and left me constantly changing my guess on who was responsible! If it wasn't so entertaining I would be frustrated because I could not figure it out. But I suppose that's the mark of an excellent mystery. And of course, the reveal of the culprit was terribly satisfying and oh so right. Finally, the fabulous cast of characters! Of course, we have our star, Najwa. She is a young Muslim woman from Kuala Lumpur, and I loved being inside her head. She is incredibly smart, observant, and just overall appealing as a character. Her struggles with grief, of figuring out where to fit in without Trina, and of overcoming her own doubts and hesitations -- all of it was relatable and made her a well-developed individual you can't help but root for. The rest of the cast was diverse and intriguing. Every character could easily be a suspect, and Alkaf does a great job of weeding that list of culprits down as secrets come out and we get to know each person individually. This was my first Hanna Alkaf book but it most certainly won't be the last, that's for sure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Basma

    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 t 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! TW (provided by author!!!): On-page death, descriptions of anxiety/PTSD/panic attacks, discussions of grief and loss. I received an e-arc of this title from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    “But life, like Scrabble, is like that—you get the rack you get, and you just have to figure out how to make do.” TW: death, grief, mental illness, panic attacks/disorders, toxic friendship. I feel like I'm one of the only people that didn't super enjoy this (that's a good thing!) so I'm going to keep this review pretty short. The positive first: the set-up for this story was awesome. A murder mystery set against the backdrop of competitive scrabble? How cool and nerdy is that? The scrabble aspect “But life, like Scrabble, is like that—you get the rack you get, and you just have to figure out how to make do.” TW: death, grief, mental illness, panic attacks/disorders, toxic friendship. I feel like I'm one of the only people that didn't super enjoy this (that's a good thing!) so I'm going to keep this review pretty short. The positive first: the set-up for this story was awesome. A murder mystery set against the backdrop of competitive scrabble? How cool and nerdy is that? The scrabble aspect was actually one of my favorite parts of the story. I was a huge fan of how Najwa's love of words was an actual presence throughout the whole story. I also think this is the first book I've ever read set in Malaysia which was super cool!! I get excited to read about other cultures and countries, and this was really well done. In a similar vein, it was nice to see the panic attack rep. I also really enjoyed the author's writing style and look forward to reading more of her works in the future. Now on to the... less positive. Other than the positives mentioned above, I didn't really like any of this book. And I am so, so upset that I didn't. The characters were the kind of insufferable that made it hard for me to read about them (not including Najwa). The mystery wasn't really a mystery, which could have been an ode to how we handle grief, but as the whole plot of the book was hinged on said mystery... it didn't work for me. I also have a really big issue with books that try so hard to divert attention from the guilty party that they practically paint a huge NOT GUILTY I PROMISE GUYS TRUST ME sign on them. We literally had moments where the MC goes, "Poor [REDACTED] could never do anything bad to anyone. So nice. So sweet. So kind." And I just... hhhh. And then after all of that to go, (view spoiler)[she wasn't actually murdered, she just... died. Bad coincidence 🤷 (hide spoiler)] was really underwhelming. Overall, I feel like I missed something with this book. I'm so glad so many other people are enjoying it and the author is clearly gifted, but I couldn't rate this higher and I'm super bummed about it. I'd still recommend it to people, but don't go into it with the expectation of a thrilling mystery.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Spens (Sphynx Reads)

    👑QUEEN OF THE TILES by Hanna Alkaf ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 🔠 I received an eARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 👑 This was an absolute delight to read! Being only my first Hanna Alkaf read, I was completely blown away by her writing style, instantly making her an auto-read author for me. Very accessible yet consistently engaging and intelligent, Alkaf's writing is a force to be reckoned with. I am still in shock at how well-written this book was. 🔠 I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner 👑QUEEN OF THE TILES by Hanna Alkaf ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 🔠 I received an eARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 👑 This was an absolute delight to read! Being only my first Hanna Alkaf read, I was completely blown away by her writing style, instantly making her an auto-read author for me. Very accessible yet consistently engaging and intelligent, Alkaf's writing is a force to be reckoned with. I am still in shock at how well-written this book was. 🔠 I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner of a story, so beautifully calculated and crafted to be perfectly paced, which will awaken—or in my case, reawaken—a love for Scrabble. Not only was the mystery very edge-of-your-seat, the exploration of the main character Najwa's grief, confusion, and confidence was also compelling. I believe Najjy is going to make it to my favorite characters list for the year. To top all that, how her anxiety was presented was extremely relatable at least to my experience. I cannot recommend this book enough to everyone. 👑 An instant favorite and a wonderful treat for logophiles everywhere! Do yourself a favor and pick up Queen of the Tiles when it comes out on April 19th!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Najwa | najreads

    “I think about life within Scrabble at its center and shiver. Without this world, what am I?” Actual rating: 4.5/5 nerdy stars 🌟 *slow claps* Hanna Alkaf has once again successfully captured all of my heart and attention in this YA murder mystery with all of its thrill and drama. I was always at the edge of my seat being every chapter ending with a cliffhanger and beginning with a word (creatively along with Scrabble points and meaning) that is somehow related to each chapter’s story. I was so “I think about life within Scrabble at its center and shiver. Without this world, what am I?” Actual rating: 4.5/5 nerdy stars 🌟 *slow claps* Hanna Alkaf has once again successfully captured all of my heart and attention in this YA murder mystery with all of its thrill and drama. I was always at the edge of my seat being every chapter ending with a cliffhanger and beginning with a word (creatively along with Scrabble points and meaning) that is somehow related to each chapter’s story. I was so invested! The drama, the scandals, the intensity of the Scrabble matches & games and the revelations - ALL OF IT was magnificent. AND OH MY GOD THE WORDPLAYS. So. Many. Wordplays!! I AM OBSESSED!! The characters are so well-portrayed. I love how Hanna display these Sekolah Menengah Scrabble nerds to be just how imagined my life and friends in Sekolah Menengah was like! I love how flawed they were that it builds a lot of character as well as relationships with the other characters as well. The diversity and dynamic of their friendships/relationships makes me miss my tournament friends too 😭 God reading this book just makes me miss the thrill of competing in tournaments!!! I want to go back!! 😭😭 Not to be biased but besides the same name factor of the main character, Najwa, I also see a lot of myself in her 😭 She’s such a word nerd, she’s close to her sister (as am I), and the little things like her not liking taugeh etc. Makes me feel so seen and for once feeling like the main character, literally! One thing that marked the stars down for me a bit was the fact that the revelation was a bit anti-climactic for me in which I think was partly my fault because I was expecting too much. But still, I did audibly gasp anyway. This is a long ass review but thank you if you read it til here and I am begging you to pick this up as soon as it’s released on April 19th! You can preorder it now at selected bookstores to receive an internet connection exclusive QoTT enamel pin! Huge thanks to #pansing @definitelybooks for the review copy 🤍

  15. 4 out of 5

    ✧ Emily ✧

    3 stars I feel like this was a cool concept, and the mystery was written well, but it was just meh. And pretty slow-moving. Full RTC

  16. 4 out of 5

    romancelibrary

    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Queen of the Tiles takes place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our main character is a hijabi Muslim teenager named Najwa. It's been a year since Najwa's best friend Trina—Queen of the Tiles—died suddenly during a Scrabble tournament. Najwa is now determined to win the Scrabble competition to honour her late best friend. But things get complicated when Trina's inactive Instagram account starts posting cryptic messages, implying that Tr I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Queen of the Tiles takes place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our main character is a hijabi Muslim teenager named Najwa. It's been a year since Najwa's best friend Trina—Queen of the Tiles—died suddenly during a Scrabble tournament. Najwa is now determined to win the Scrabble competition to honour her late best friend. But things get complicated when Trina's inactive Instagram account starts posting cryptic messages, implying that Trina's death may have involved foul play. Najwa is then forced to trace Trina's steps a year ago to find out what really happened to her best friend. I don't usually read YA, but I had to pick this one up because HELLO? A hijabi heroine playing detective and solving mysteries?! Yes, pls & thx!! The unraveling of a mystery during a Scrabble competition is so unique! I love the way Najwa's mind works, the way her brain is wired to associate words with everything and everyone that she comes across. I honestly didn't realize how dumb I was at Scrabble until I read this book 😂 The beginning of this book explores Najwa's grief after such a painful loss. I think the author did a really good job exploring themes of death, grief, and mental health. The beginning of this book also introduces the primary set of supporting characters, some of whom later on become suspects. As a result, it takes some time for the mystery-solving to actually start. As I was reading, I worried about potential plot holes and loose ends. I had so many questions, like, what exactly did the police miss in their initial investigation? And how is Najwa, a teenager, expected to solve something that the police overlooked? But as I got closer to the end of the story, everything made complete sense. And I really like how everything ultimately came together! Overall, despite the slow beginning, I ended up really enjoying this book. @publishers if you're reading this review—I need more unique and interesting books with hijabi heroines (not just YA) that are not about tragic Muslim lives and Islamophobia. Better yet, give me an adult mystery novel with an adult hijabi heroine as the main character, pls & thx!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Booktastically Amazing

    Honestly? This book gave me hope of finding a murderer even when I have no idea (to this day) how to spell schedule.

  18. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    When cryptic messages begin appearing on a dead girls' social media account during an international scrabble championship in Malaysia, a girl must investigate the mysterious circumstances of her best friend's death and uncover the truth before a would-be killer strikes again. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram When cryptic messages begin appearing on a dead girls' social media account during an international scrabble championship in Malaysia, a girl must investigate the mysterious circumstances of her best friend's death and uncover the truth before a would-be killer strikes again. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mango

    Woah! This sounds great. Can't wait until this releases. Woah! This sounds great. Can't wait until this releases.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Era ➴

    I actually binged this so fast that I forgot to even change its status on goodreads

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mjspice

    THE COVER!!! THE COVER!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda at Bookish Brews

    I HAVE NEVER WANTED TO PLAY SCRABBLE MORE I love how every single thing is attached to scrabble or the thought process of scrabble it's delightful! Bookish Brews | Ko-Fi | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Facebook I HAVE NEVER WANTED TO PLAY SCRABBLE MORE I love how every single thing is attached to scrabble or the thought process of scrabble it's delightful! Bookish Brews | Ko-Fi | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Facebook

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽♔

    I haven’t actually watched The Queen’s Gambit but, based on the synopsis, I am nevertheless intrigued 🤔

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caitlyn DeRouin

    Read my full review and others here: https://teatimelit.com/ When I first heard about Queen of the Tiles, I could not have been more excited! The game of Scrabble is very important to my family — we play Scrabble on practically every major holiday and birthday. I’ve been playing since I was about seven, and there have been many heated debates between my family members on which words can and cannot be played. We take Scrabble very seriously in my household, so the second I found out there was a YA Read my full review and others here: https://teatimelit.com/ When I first heard about Queen of the Tiles, I could not have been more excited! The game of Scrabble is very important to my family — we play Scrabble on practically every major holiday and birthday. I’ve been playing since I was about seven, and there have been many heated debates between my family members on which words can and cannot be played. We take Scrabble very seriously in my household, so the second I found out there was a YA mystery/thriller centered around a Scrabble tournament, I ordered a copy and moved it to the top of my TBR. This book captivated me right from the start — I simply did not want to put it down! The storyline was compelling and I loved the pacing of the novel. The stakes were high; not only is Najwa trying to get back into the world of competitive Scrabble by participating in her first tournament in over a year, she’s also doing anything and everything she can to solve her best friend Trina’s murder. I love a good locked room mystery, and I really liked the way that Queen of the Tiles uses that trope, but with a twist. Most locked room mysteries (and mysteries in general) take place in the present, but in Queen of the Tiles, the murder happend a year before, and now all the people who were there that weekend are back in the same place the following year. I felt that this added an air of mystery because people’s memories can change in a year (or in Najwa’s case, her memories of that weekend are pretty much gone), making it easier for the culprit to manipulate the past and point the finger elsewhere. I loved Najwa as our main character, I found her completely compelling and really easy to root for. You could clearly see how much Trina’s death affected her (from PTSD, to depressive episodes, and memory loss), and more than anything I wanted her to find the answers that she needed so that she could feel some sense of closure. This is the first book I’ve read by Hanna Alkaf, and I will absolutely be checking out more of her work! --- i....i did not see that coming. i was SO wrong. real review rtc!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Naadhira Zahari

    Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf is a smashing read about Scrabble, game strategy and solving the mystery behind the death of a Scrabble champion. Set a year after the tragedy, these Scrabble enthusiasts join together for a brand new competition until sparks start to roam around the dead girl's social media. They say the murderer is roaming around, looking for a new prey but who is behind it all? This is truly a book like none other I've read before and fans of words like me would really enjoy t Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf is a smashing read about Scrabble, game strategy and solving the mystery behind the death of a Scrabble champion. Set a year after the tragedy, these Scrabble enthusiasts join together for a brand new competition until sparks start to roam around the dead girl's social media. They say the murderer is roaming around, looking for a new prey but who is behind it all? This is truly a book like none other I've read before and fans of words like me would really enjoy the multitude of new vocabularies you'll pick up along the way. There are so many new words that I've never even stumbled upon before. I also really like the fact that the author slips in the definition and what the main character is feeling or the hunch she has. It is truly so unique and absolutely brilliant. Honestly, I wasn't all that swept away by the mystery behind Trina's death. I was kind of shocked that it turned out to be the person I least expected but hearing their motive kinda dwindles down my interest. I was like huh, really?!! That's all? I don't know, I think I was hoping for more. Hanna Alkaf has yet again managed to bring another remarkable story and I am once again definitely amazed by her talent for writing. This is a book that you should definitely look for as I cannot recommend it enough! Go preorder it now!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Saima

    4/5 stars. I loved this so much, the suspense and the exploration of grief and the whole mystery of it all was just so good.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tonja Drecker

    Scrabble competitions, set in Malaysia, and a murder mystery? Add that cover, and I was over-the-moon when I got my hands on an ARC copy of this one. Najwa is suffering panic attacks due to the trauma of watching her best friend and Scrabble champion, Trina, suddenly die at the end of a scrabble match right in front of her. Although the death happened a year before, the cause never came to light. A year later, Najwa tries to regain a hold on her life and re-enters the Scrabble scene after a long Scrabble competitions, set in Malaysia, and a murder mystery? Add that cover, and I was over-the-moon when I got my hands on an ARC copy of this one. Najwa is suffering panic attacks due to the trauma of watching her best friend and Scrabble champion, Trina, suddenly die at the end of a scrabble match right in front of her. Although the death happened a year before, the cause never came to light. A year later, Najwa tries to regain a hold on her life and re-enters the Scrabble scene after a long pause. Of course, her first competition is at the same place where her friend died...and exactly a year later. As Najwa tries to come to terms with her own ghosts, she watches all her earlier friends feverishly battle to take Trina's place. But Najwa has set her eyes on that position herself to honor the memory of her best friend and is on the best way to accomplish her goal...until a real ghost takes over Trina's dormant, social media accounts and teases with hints at murder. This book was as grabbing as I hoped it be and also took a slightly different atmosphere than I expected...and that's great. The first chapter begins with Trina's sudden death in a traumatic way. Najwa then hits the scene with chapter two a year later as she comes across insecure and awkward, and tries to force herself to re-grasp her life. The author has done a very good job at allowing Najwa's emotions, thoughts, and inner-struggles to gain a strong foothold in the first chapters. And while this usually would turn 'action-loving' me slightly away, there is enough going on in the undertones to start building the basis for the mystery and keep it more than interesting. While Najwa's depth and warm-heart amidst her insecurity make her a wonderful heroine, the side characters can't be overlooked. Each one holds personality, quirks, secrets, and adds the right bite to form a rich atmosphere around Najwa and the intrigue. It makes it impossible to figure out who the true murderer is (and this does hit with complete surprise, at the end), while adding tension at every turn. Then, there's the unique setting, which delights from all of its nerdiness. Najwa swims in words and understands the world by holding them close. Each chapter begins with a unique word, the point amount it gives in Scrabble, and a definition, which holds meaning at the beginning of the chapter. Her thoughts rotate around complex words, which she defines in her head, as she uses them to base herself and what she experiences or notices around her. It adds an odd and intriguing aspect, which gives this story its own flair. This one is a treat to read. It does have a couple triggers as there is a death, panic attacks, and a bit of bullying, but these aren't anything harsher than even tween audiences can handle. There were a couple things surrounding the death, which seemed muddled over, and for someone with as much issues with the trauma as Najwa had, the idea of her rejoining everything at the same site on the anniversary raises an eyebrow, but this story more than works. I enjoyed it quite a bit and recommend this one to even tween audiences and up (although it is a YA read, too), since its such an easy, engaging, and fun read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zainab Bint Younus

    Everyone dreams of uninterrupted reading time, but let me tell you that 3 hours in the emergency waiting for my kid to be seen is not it. (InshaAllah she'll be okay, still waiting to see a doc. Du'as pls!) But hey, I got to finish to finish "Queen of the Tiles," by Hana Alkaf! This brilliant YA whodunit, featuring Scrabble and murder, was thoroughly enjoyable - although, despite the hijabi on the cover, not particularly Muslamic. The story is set in Malaysia, the main character is a Malay hijabi, Everyone dreams of uninterrupted reading time, but let me tell you that 3 hours in the emergency waiting for my kid to be seen is not it. (InshaAllah she'll be okay, still waiting to see a doc. Du'as pls!) But hey, I got to finish to finish "Queen of the Tiles," by Hana Alkaf! This brilliant YA whodunit, featuring Scrabble and murder, was thoroughly enjoyable - although, despite the hijabi on the cover, not particularly Muslamic. The story is set in Malaysia, the main character is a Malay hijabi, but Islam itself doesn't feature in the book beyond references to hijab and the halal gap between guys and girls and praying Fajr. Even so, this book reminded me of how much I miss creative writing and learning unnecessarily complicated and obscure words (and playing annoyingly long games of Scrabble and Words With Friends with my husband). Thoroughly enjoyed this from beginning to end! 4.9/5 🌟 (.1 points detracted bc I wanted more Muslim rep, but that's my issue more than a problem with the book) #bookstagram #Muslimbookstagram #MuslimYA #YA #MuslimFiction #MyMuslimShelfSpace #WeNeedDiverseBooks #OwnVoices #MuslimRepresentation #authenticrepresentation #MuslimWomenWriters #MuslimWriters #Scrabble #wordplay

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    A fantastic and engaging mystery set at a Scrabble tournament. Dig into twisty, sometimes toxic, friendships, a clever and imperfect main character, and tremendous word nerdery. I love Alkaf's writing and settings in Malaysia as well as Alkaf's thoughtful depictions of grief, anxiety, and other emotional/mental health experiences. A fantastic and engaging mystery set at a Scrabble tournament. Dig into twisty, sometimes toxic, friendships, a clever and imperfect main character, and tremendous word nerdery. I love Alkaf's writing and settings in Malaysia as well as Alkaf's thoughtful depictions of grief, anxiety, and other emotional/mental health experiences.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    ACTUAL: 4.35 stars * Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review * - RTC -

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