Who doesn’t love a good mystery? And it’s not so easy to find an honest-to-goodness mystery (though, admittedly, I’m still stuck on where all the socks go between the washer and dryer).

I discovered Sherlock Holmes in junior high, when The Hound of the Baskervilles was required reading. It wasn’t bad, as far as required reading went, and I faintly remember voluntarily reading a few books of Holmes mysteries in those years.

Fast forward to this summer, when I discovered, much to my chagrin, that one of the books hiding on my review shelf was a book of Holmes goodness by a modern writer who captured my imagination a few years ago.

The Watson Chronicles: A Sherlock Holmes Novel in Stories

Ann Margaret Lewis, in The Watson Chronicles: A Sherlock Holmes Novel in Stories (Gasogene Books, 2014), steps away from Holmes and focuses the attention on Watson.

And what a character she paints, while she’s weaving in the delightful mysteries throughout. Watson Chronicles is filled with masterful writing and expert storytelling. Lewis introduces new characters and has an overall story that ties the chapters—which all could be independent mysteries—together quite nicely.

Holmes works through some of his issues, we find out what a family man Watson is, and we meet another Holmes (who I’m quite fond of). There are wonderful pen-and-ink illustrations throughout.

This wasn’t just a good summer read, but a book to share and keep on the “gifts to give” list.

And now, for a confession: I read Young Adult fiction (YA). I’m not as addicted to it as I could be, in part because of the amount of other reading I do (for reviews and such). My nieces are avid readers and they know I not only have a soft spot for a good book, but an inability to not read something that they need vetted or aren’t sure about.

Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean

I haven’t yet passed on Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean, by Britt Leigh (Pauline Books & Media, 2014), but I expect I soon will.

On the one hand, this is a unique book in the YA fiction I’ve read to date. It’s distinctly Catholic (without being too overbearing) and it has a voice that is all its own. In fact, I was a bit put off by that voice. I’m definitely not the target reading audience here, so I forgive the book its voice.

This book isn’t badly written, and it definitely explores topics that are important and should be explored in fiction. Parts of it felt obvious to me, and maybe more than a little far-reaching, but we need more YA fiction that’s not Twilight and the other dark-flavored novels that seem to be all the rage.

This was a fast read for me, but I almost feel like I’m not sure of my rating of it. Without giving it to some of my trusted teen readers, I can’t tell if what I’m calling “enh” is just me or if it’s indicative of something more. Some of the humor fell flat with me (maybe the Old Grouchy Mom Syndrome?) and the health issues were a little too much in places.

Don’t think I didn’t enjoy it at all, mind you. Though this wasn’t a 4- or 5-star book for me, it covers important topics like identity, sex (to some extent), fitting in, and why faith matters. I’d call it pretty safe across the board for grades 8 and up, though use your own discretion and spend the couple of hours it will take you to read it.