Wednesday, January 28, 2015

REVIEW: Girl of the Book! (+$15 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Girl of the Book 
Author: Princila Murrell
Series: N/A
Pages: 226
Date Published: December 1st 2014
Publisher: N/A
Format: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary MG
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
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Twelve year old Courtney Parker is devastated to have to leave her friends and South Africa behind when her father accepts a lucrative contract and the family relocate to Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah feels like a different planet to Johannesburg. In spite of her initial reluctance to venture out of the comfort and security of their new home, she quickly forms friendships with Nizar Bukhari and Lana Alahmadi. However, not everyone is happy with the situation.

Courtney must learn to adapt to an alien, seemingly unforgiving culture and stand up to the bullies that are making her school life hell.

Nizar and Lana must both try to overcome their family prejudices in order for their friendship with Courtney to survive. Will they succeed? Will they be able to set aside their differences? Can they bridge the cultural divide?

“Girl of the Book” is a compelling, contemporary story that will get older children thinking. More than that, it is a story of friendship and forgiveness that will tug at your heart.

~My Thoughts~
Though I am a prolific YA reader, I find that I much more rarely dabble in the world of Middle Grade fiction. Girl of the Book is definitely going to change that for me! With intense racial unrest in the United States, intense religious unrest between radical Muslims and the rest of the world (Christians, Muslims, or Secularists-all), this is a very confusing world for children to grow up in. Multi-culturalism is something that is completely necessary for kids to learn as young as possible, and Girl of the Book handles this issue for at least some cultures, very nicely!

The story shows three unique POV's. One of Christian, South African Courtney, and then of Nizar and Lana- a boy and girl who are Muslim and from Saudi Arabia. All three of them face unique issues as they grow to become friends. Courtney is torn between being homesick and losing her culture, and making friends and learning about Saudi Arabia's culture. Lana and Nizar both face difficulties and prejudices from those around them when they interact with Lana and become her friend. 

While the plot mainly revolved around personal interactions and character growth, I never found myself losing interest in what was happening. This is one book that doesn't need a lot of flashes and bangs to keep the reader's attention. 

As my Man-Candy and I get closer to the age where we want to have kids and start a family, I find myself thinking more and more about how I want to raise my kids. What I want them to read, how I want them to learn about other cultures and people in the world. Girl of the Book is a great example of MG readers learning how to understand these cultural and religious differences on a personal level as they relate to Nizar and Lana and Courtney. I would recommend this book for both home and school and plan on keeping it on the shelf for the future little Andra-Lings running around in a few years :) 
~Try an Excerpt!~
‘Wow!’ I blinked and looked around. I wasn’t dreaming. Some women on our side of the plane were struggling to get into long black robes. In the tight space between the seats, they wriggled, their elbows looking like mountain peaks underneath the black fabric as they tried to slip their arms into the sleeves.

The girl to my right had some really cool skinny jeans and a tight sleeveless top when we boarded, and I thought she had a beautiful body. She looked like the Barbie doll Lara, with her thin lips and pretty long hair that fell down her back. Now, covered up in a black robe, she was tying a piece of black cloth over her face so that all that was left visible were her eyes.

What was happening, and why were these women getting into black outfits? Why only now?

Mum yawned and stretched in her seat. The voice of the flight attendant on the loudspeaker had woken her up. She reached inside her bag and pulled out a scarf. A black one. No, really I’m not kidding.

‘Mum,’ I said, ‘what are you doing?’

‘What does it look like I’m doing, honey? I’m wearing my scarf, of course.’

‘Yeah, I can see that you are wearing a scarf...a black one,’ I said.

‘What’s wrong with it being black?’ She yawned again, leaned on her seat, and closed her eyes. Either Mum was too tired and sleepy or she was pretending not to notice the other women who were rapidly putting on loose-fitting black robes.

I looked across to where Dad was sitting. He was reading a newspaper. Or trying to read it, as it was hard not to notice the women. I didn’t think it was a good idea to ask him because that would mean leaning over my brother Pete and whispering across the aisle.

‘Muuuuum,’ I said.

She opened one eye and looked at me.

‘What?’ she said, opening the other one.

‘Why are those women wearing black robes over their dresses?’

‘Ah...that,’ Mum said and adjusted her scarf. ‘We’re going to Saudi Arabia, remember?’


‘I told you, in Saudi Arabia women dress differently.’ She adjusted her scarf again.

Mum had had a long conversation with me about how life would be different in Saudi Arabia. She had told me about how men and women didn’t mix in public places, how women weren’t allowed to drive, and how women had to dress modestly and cover up their bodies, but I didn’t remember her telling me that those changes would start right here on the plane.

The first conversation we had about Saudi was on a Sunday evening after dinner. I was in my room listening to Selena Gomez’s A Year Without Rain when Mum asked to talk to me.

‘Are you OK, Mum?’ I asked. I was lying across my bed, but I sat up when I saw the look on her face.

She sat beside me, pushed a lock of hair behind my ear and said, ‘I’m fine, honey. Just got a few things on my mind.’

I guessed something reeeeally bad must have happened.

‘Then why do you look so sad?’ I asked.

‘Do I?’ She forced a smile. I could tell it was fake because I didn’t see the lovely dimples she usually got when she smiled.

I nodded. She drew closer to me and put her arm across my shoulders.

‘You know, honey, there’s something your dad and I have been discussing lately. We spent several days arguing about it, and we figured out that it might be the best thing for us to do right now.’

I looked at her, wondering what was coming next. Had they come up with another way of punishing me for sneaking out the previous week and attending a party after Dad had said ‘No’? Were they going to send me off to a boarding school like our neighbours, the Joneses, did to their daughter because they thought she was becoming undisciplined? I waited for Mum to continue, my heart racing as if I were being chased by a wild beast.

‘Your dad’s got a job as a site supervisor for a large construction company. In fact, he’ll be earning much more than what he currently earns,’ she said.

‘But that’s good news,’ I said, relieved that the conversation wasn’t about me.

‘Yeah, but the job’s in Saudi Arabia.’

‘Saudi Arabia!’ I exclaimed. ‘What? Dad’s going to move to Saudi Arabia?’

‘No.’ She squeezed my shoulder hard. ‘We’re all going with him.’
~Meet Princila!~
Princila Murrell lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her husband and two kids. She started writing when she was about 10 years old and made the leap to Indie author about two decades later because she could not wait to share her stories with the world. Besides being a nerdy dreamer, doodler, busy mum, and housewife, she is also an avid netizen and reader of children’s books. She loves to cook, shop and, most of all, play with her kids. Girl of the Book is Princila’s debut novel.

Author Links

Amazon author page:
My blog:
Twitter (@PMurell):
Goodreads (Princila Murrell):
Wattpad (PrincilaMurrell):
Facebook (Princila Murrell):
Girl of the Book on Facebook: 
Princila will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. thank you for the excerpt, i enjoyed reading it :)

  3. Thank you for your lovely comments, and a special thank you to Andra for hosting.

  4. Your debut novel? Why, that's marvelous! What a nice time in your life, although I bet it is much more hectic than you expected. Good luck with keeping up the good work!

  5. Thank you, Laney4. I couldn't help smiling when I read your comment. On the contrary, I'm living a very quiet and uneventful life right now :-). Being the super introvert that I am, I hope it stays that way for a long time, though I would like to reach as many readers as possible with my writing.

  6. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. I can just imagine what it must be like to leave your friends and way of life and move to a new country. She had to adjust to a brand new culture and be bullied while doing so. This book sounds very interesting.

  8. This book has really piqued my interest. I hope to have a chance to read Girl of the Book!