Thursday, 7 July 2016

E.K Johnston's Top 5 YA Novels + UK Giveaway

Today on the blog I am lucky enough to welcome E.K Johnston - author of the fabulous, A THOUSAND NIGHTS. 

You can see the lovely new paperback edition featured above - and if you haven't already - you can check out my review of the book HERE

Otherwise here are EKJ's

Top Five YA Novels Of All

CODE NAME VERITY, by Elizabeth Wein

I got to read an ARC of this because they were looking for Canadian bloggers on NetGalley, and even though my bookblog was mostly defunct at the time, I resurrected it for this. I’d had a few UK friends tell me it was amazing, and I wanted IN.

The thing I love about CNV (besides, you know, everything) is that both Julie and Maddie are heroic in different ways, and neither of them really considers herself a hero. They’re both messes – and for good reason – and they both keep trying anyway, and I love them to pieces for it.

The other thing I really love, from a craft standpoint, is how EW built the novel’s structure. The best example is the scene with the American radio interview. You read Julie’s version first, and then Maddie’s, and then when you go back and re-read Julie’s, your brain explodes a little bit because it was all there the whole time.

Also the ending. MY HEART.

ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA, by Diana Peterfreund

The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my favourite stories of all time, so when I learned that DP had written a futuristic version where the Pimpernel was a teenage girl, I was SUPER EXCITED (well, first I emailed all my friends in the biz to yell at them for not telling me, but THEN I got super excited).

SEA is a high stakes thrill-ride of a book, combining politics, adventure, fascinating technology, star-crossed romances, excellent (if misplaced) police work, and a multitude of relationships (friendship, love, duty, siblings, inter-generational legacy, etc). Oh, and poetry. And a couple of really off the hook parties.

Persistence Blake is the best hero, best friend, best person a reader could ask for, and every time I re-read her story, I love it even more.

As a bonus: there’s another book set in the same world called FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS (it actually takes place prior to this one, though I think you can read them separately), that is the post-apocalyptic version of PERSUASION you never knew you needed.

THE STRANGE MAID, by Tessa Gratton

I think this one might actually be a perfect book. I can’t even really tell you why, except that Signy Valborn is my Patronus AND my nightmare (in the good way), and the world that Gratton built for her to stand on is some of the most amazing and complete world-building I have ever encountered.

Bonus: Not only is THE GODS OF NEW ASGARD a whole series, but there’s a short story about Glory/The Fenris Wolf (GLORY’S TEETH) that is so perfectly teen girl, my heart hurts just thinking about it.


Where to begin with Greta Gustafson-Stuart? A princess, a hostage, a genius, a stoic, a global threat, a death as inevitable as the winter in Saskatchewan, Greta is like no one I had ever read before, and I loved her immediately. She is grace under pressure with a spine of steel, who leads so naturally she scarcely even notices she’s doing it, and who faces her fate with more strength than some entire nations.

Until she decides maybe she would like a different fate altogether. And then she changes the world.

Bow’s writing is superlative. Terrifying and funny, high minded and earthy (there are a lot of goats), and always, always beautiful. When Greta opens her eyes, she is unstoppable, and this is the story of how she does it.

You will never look at cider the same way again.

FIRE, by Kristin Cashore

A monster-girl for a world full of monsters, so beautiful that everyone who sees her loves her and hates her and blames her for it, and powerful enough to take over the country if she wants to, like her father did before her. A girl who is kind instead of cruel, clever instead of ruthless, and thoughtful instead of reckless, even when it is the harder path, every time she chooses to take it.

Technically the second book in a trilogy, FIRE can be read (and loved) as a standalone. Cashore’s world-building is impeccable, the scope of her politics is massive, and the depth of each character’s motivations is astounding.

Also: casual sex without shame, Boys Being Made To Face The Consequences Of Their Actions, excellent friendships between the female characters, and an on-the-page bisexual heroine.


White had me at “what if Vlad Dracul had been a girl?”, and I never looked back. Lada is a vicious heroine, whose harsh nature is equal parts teeth and sheer determination. Intensely patriotic, she does not take well to being a hostage, and learns to play politics very, very quickly. I think I love her most especially because she actually has a heart. She just wilfully ignores it most of the time.

In addition to Lada’s fabulousness, White’s attention to detail, not a small part of historical fiction, is wonderful. The Ottoman Empire is not a time period that gets a lot of attention most of the time, but White’s treatment of it is impeccable. Also, it’s a trilogy, so there’s going to be a boatload more of it.


Thanks to EKJ's awesome publicly team, I have one paperback copy of A THOUSAND NIGHTS to giveaway to one lucky reader.

Just leave a comment below telling me your favourite YA read of all time.

Entry closes 17th July 2016

I'll announce the winner here on the blog so please check back to see if you've won - or leave your email in the comments!

Sharing and Following is always appreciated!

Thanks very much


  1. I loved A Thousand Nights, and WOW. Fire is one of my all time favorite books! I have been anxiously anticipating And I Darken for a while now!

  2. What great picks and what a fun guest post!

  3. I really liked Code Name Verity! The historical fiction aspect is something that really interests me, and I loved the strong female characters.

  4. Cool books, I have to check those out :D

  5. And I Darken was REALLY captivating! Even though historical fiction was never quite my thing, I couldn't put it down!! I coldn't finish Fire, though, but mainly b/c I thoght the villain and the MC would become a couple and they didn't... so sad sad sad I was.

  6. OMG "And I Darken" is everywhere!! And it's driving me crazy because I don't have a copy yet. But I just have sooooo many other books to read this month. :(

    Funny enough though, I just bought "Code Name Verity" for my e-reader, it was on sale for $1.99 about a week ago. Good to see another positive review!

  7. I absolutely love A Thousand Night's cover, too bad I can't participate in the giveaway since I'm not from the UK :/
    Anyways, And I Darken is on my TBR shelf and I'm glad you read it, it makes me want to read it more :)

    @ "Book Addict"

  8. The only one I've read is And I Darken, and I COMPLETELY agree. Love that book so much. A Thousand Nights sounds good too.

  9. Oh gosh, I recently read And I Darken too and was blown away! Loved it immensely Sarah. I've seen Fire around but have never really taken an interest until now either, it sounds absolutely incredible! Code Name Verity is another book I've had sitting on my shelf for ages and still are yet to pick up. I really must learn to prioritise. Thanks for sharing Sarah and good luck to everyone who enters your giveaway, great prize <3

  10. Loved Code Name Verity and AaSSS and I've heard great things about As I Darken!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

  11. I've had Code Name Verity on my shelf for years and I really need to read it.

    I hear And I Darken is amazing!

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  12. I've had Code Name Verity on my shelf for years and I really need to read it.

    I hear And I Darken is amazing!

    Karen @For What It's Worth