If you’re a parent or grandparent looking for a last-minute bookish gift idea for a preteen or early teenager, check out this post!
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
Bookish Gift Ideas=Book Title for Book Lovers
If you have a middle schooler in your life, you’ll know what I’ve learned. A bookish gift idea is code for great book titles for book lovers. If you’re a Christian parent and want to help your middle schooler make good choices in fiction and jokes, you’ll really appreciate these titles and authors.
Fortress of Snow A Dericott Tale
By Melanie Dickerson, Thomas Nelson, December 2022, 352 pages, 12+.
A Damsel in Distress
Mazelina of Wexcombe dreams of traveling the world with her father—but he dies unexpectedly before they take a single trip. Her stepbrother, the new baron, wants to marry Mazy off to an old man. Mazy decides to flee to Strachleigh Castle, where her other brother, John, serves as a knight. He promised to help her whenever needed, so Mazy felt sure he would welcome her.
When she arrives, John seems underwhelmed and unwilling to fulfill his promise. Fortunately, Sir Berenger, the younger brother of the mistress of Strachleigh, has compassion for her. He introduces her to Lady Delia, who welcomes Mazy as an honored guest. Mazy receives word her brother has disowned her, leaving her without a dowery or protection. His actions don’t surprise her, but they do hurt her deeply.
When Sir Berenger leaves for a foreign war, John accepts a job working for the king’s guard in London. Mazy knows she can’t live off the hospitality of the Strachleighs forever, so she moves to London. The travel she imagined turns out nothing like the reality of making her own way in London with a brother who seems to care little for her safety or well-being.
With the help of the kind owner of an alehouse and his daughter, Ro, Mazy learns to navigate the city and finds a way to support herself by selling bread at the market. At times, she must protect herself from brigands using her knife-throwing skills.
An Honorable Knight
Sir Berenger has nothing to offer a woman—no title, steady income, or land. After getting to know Mazy, he forms an idea of the kind of woman he would one day like to marry. A resourceful woman he can easily talk to who has compassion for those less fortunate. After distinguishing himself in the foreign war, he returns to London and finds Mazy has blossomed in his two-year absence.
She supports herself completely at her stall in the market and provides for widows and orphans by giving them leftover baked goods and selling their wares. Their friendship quickly blossoms again.
But when young King Richard offers to reward Berenger for his service by facilitating a marriage with a wealthy but older widow, Berenger can’t refuse him outright. He travels to Bristow Castle but finds it difficult to trust the woman the king wishes him to wed. Refusing the king’s reward could have terrible consequences.
The more he learns about Lady Bristow, the less he wants to marry her. When Mazy shows up in the dead of winter to warn him about Lady Bristow’s true character, Berenger must make a choice that could bring him back to where he started years earlier—locked in the Tower of London.
What I Liked About This Book
Dickerson continues the Dericott Tales with another fun cast of characters. Readers will relate to Mazy as she learns how self-sufficiency will only take a person so far. They will enjoy the sweet romance between Berenger and Mazy, and cheer for both as they try to outwit the unscrupulous villain.
My junior-high and high-school students love Dickerson’s books, and Fortress of Snow, a retelling of the Snow Queen, will not disappoint!
Melanie Dickerson has mastered the art of retelling fairy tales from a Christian, historical perspective. Her relatable characters experience many of the same relationship issues middle schoolers and teenagers experience today. They struggle with putting faith into practice, less than ideal families of origin, adoption, self-doubt, friendships, bullies, and learning self-sufficiency.
The light romance in each story stays firmly G-rated. Readers can enjoy each book in her series as standalone novels, but my students love to read them in order.
A Medieval Fairy Tale Series (three books)
The Dericott Tales (Court of Swans, Castle of Refuge, and Fortress of Snow)
The Fairy Tale Romance Series (11 titles) starts with The Healer’s Apprentice.
Clean Jokes? Yes, Please!
We’ll start with a book full of clean jokes written by a middle schooler for middle schoolers. You’re Joking Me: Jokes for Kids by a Kid (Burst Out Laughing) cracks me up (I must be a kid at heart). I had the opportunity to interview the author, William Daniel, about his joke-writing techniques and who inspires him to write jokes. This book would make the perfect stocking stuffer for the family jokester.