Ash Princess by Sebastian

Theodosia, or as she is forced to be called Thora, is the Artemisian princess whose throne was cruelly stolen. The Kalovaxians have taken over her country, murdered her mother, and punish her for any perceived misbehavior by her people. When she is forced to kill her own father, Theodosia realizes she cannot continue on in this manner. She will no longer calmly accept that this is her life. The rebels help her to escape, she makes friends and allies along the way.

Political intrigue, colonization, magic,and a strong female protagonist make this a compelling read. Fans of Sabaa Tahir and Victoria Aveyard will devour this in hours.

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows features a gender fluid main character. Sal’s family and country were destroyed in a war 10 years ago and vengeance will be sweet. Orphaned and alone, Sal became a street thief under the thumb of Grell. Sal just needs enough money to get closer to the upper-class to seek revenge.

While robbing a noblewoman, Sal discovers the perfect opportunity to avenge those who were murdered needlessly, the queen needs a new assassin and tryouts are open to everyone. Sal immediately starts planning how to enter the competition to become her new assassin. The competition is harsh and murdering your competitors is not only okay it is encouraged as long as no one sees you.

Murder, intrigue, love, and betrayal are all a part of the competition. Can a common street thief like Sal make it against ex soldiers, acrobats, and hardened criminals? This is a great start to a duology and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the second book. A great read for fans of Maas and Bardugo’s fantasy series. I would say this is more appropriate for a high school student than a middle school student. You should definitely add this to your to be read pile when it is released in August!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval is a magical 5 night game that happens once a year. Anything can happen while you’re on the island but you have to be invited and Scarlett has finally been invited. Scar receives 3 tickets in the mail, 1 for herself, 1 for her fiance, and 1 for her sister Tella.

Tella is almost immediately kidnapped when they arrive at Caraval. All of the players must follow the clues and find her within 5 days or she dies. Whoever finds her first wins and this year’s prize is a wish, a wish for anything they could dream of.

You will find magic, murder, mystery, and romance all tied up nicely in this story. This is a darkly enchanting debut by Garber that is sure to pull readers into its clutches from page 1.

Extraordinary October by Diana Wagman

Extraordinary October is about the very ordinary October Fetterhoff. In her senior of high school, October is a loner. She doesn’t belong to any clubs, groups, or sports teams. But like most high schoolers she wishes for something different, something extraordinary to happen.

Just days before October’s 18th birthday weird things start happening. A burning itch that can’t be explained, running faster than a normal human should be able to, and animals talking to her… During the course of the next few days October discovers she is not who she always thought she was nor are her parents who they said they were.

This story is filled with mystery, magic, fairies, trolls, romance, and betrayal. Can October manage to live to her 18th birthday? Can she rescue her kidnapped dad and find her missing mother? Can she stop the evil doer and set the world to rights? An easy, light read for any fantasy fan. At just over 250 pages this is a short book that would be great for a day at the beach.

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A sorcerer has arrived at the Brimthorn School for Girls and is searching for someone wielding magic. Except it isn’t any of the students; Miss Henrietta Howel is the one who has been starting the fires.  She is terrified they will burn her at the stake as a witch if they find out. But things don’t go as planned and the sorcerer watches in amazement as Henrietta’s entire body is engulfed in flames trying to save the life of a friend.

Henrietta is thrust into a new life in Victorian London as the only female apprentice and she isn’t always well received. Some believe she is the prophesied sorceress that will save them all. But who is Henrietta Howel, she is the daughter of a lowly magician not a highly respectable sorcerer as was foretold. In a story filled with twists, mysteries, and monsters, how do you know who is friend and who is foe?

This is a great first book in what promises to be a wondrous fantasy series with a strong female protagonist trying to find her place in a male dominated society. Highly recommended!