In observance of Memorial Day, sharing the best war books, from now and all-time

In observance of Memorial Day here in the U.S., I’m sharing notable books about war. Too keep things simpler, I’ve mostly kept to fiction. However, I did include a few nonfiction, including The Art of War by Sun Tzu and Night by Eli Wiesel.

For more information about the books, you can visit the links at the end of this post. The linked titles in the list are books I’ve reviewed. Every time I search for books on this subject, I tell myself I need to re-read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and a few others.

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  • Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  • The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon
  • Covenant With Death by John Harris
  • The Debacle by Émile Zola
  • Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  • Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • From Here To Eternity by James Jones
  • Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Hunters by James Salter
  • Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Men At Arms by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Naked and The Dead by Norman Mailer
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford
  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker
  • Restless by William Boyd
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Winds of War by Herman Wouk

Visit these links for more books and descriptions about each:

What books about war have resonated with you? Leave a comment.

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Summertime Link Love!

Hi Everyone,

Today I’m sharing links to blogs I’ve recently discovered. I hope you’ll take a look and find a new blogging friend!

Belladonna’s Flashlight – The One Where She Stumbled Through Her 40’s and Faced Her Demon: Belladonna’s recent post on mental health offers a way to connect when you’re feeling down. Belladonna also posts about women’s rights and issues.

Bridgette Tales – Everybody has a story. Here’s a little of mine.  Bridgette began her blog after being cast in the spoken word show Listen to Your Mother. It was the catalyst for reconnecting with her creativity, and the people she met through the process continue to inspire her.

The Indie Spot! Indie books, authors, music, and lives! Supporting indie authors, musicians, artists, and all creative souls.

neihtn ~ Books & Photographs: Hien started his blog in 2012. He also self-published two books, Village Teacher and The Siege of An Lộc. Hien writes, “writing is something that I have wanted to do for almost all my life, but I used to have a ‘regular’ job. It took me almost four years to write Village Teacher at night and on weekends. I am now retired and intend to spend much of my time writing. I am also an amateur photographer. I now blog and post photos at least once a week.”

The Well-Read Fish reviews all sorts of Christian fiction from historical romance to science fiction and everything in between. The mission is simple: To promote contemporary Christian fiction. Featuring reviewers Mae Clair, Vera Day, Gwen Plano, Joan Hall and Staci Troilo.

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Grammar check – are scammers really that bad at spelling and grammar?

Do you get all judgy when you see a spam email with a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes? I have judged, I cannot lie! But think again. These scammers aren’t stupid. They know exactly what they’re doing and those mistakes? They’re deliberate!

Here’s why:

  • Scammers want gullible people. They don’t want grammarians. Their deliberate mistakes weed out the righteous and save them time because they know these folks won’t ultimately fall victim.
  • Misspelled words have a greater chance of making it past spam filters that look for keywords and phrases often used in phishing schemes.
  • Some people think the mistakes make the sender appear more human. We all make mistakes, right? Susceptible people relate to this and are more likely to be tricked.

Spammers aren’t your friends and they definitely don’t need a grammar lesson. Don’t waste your time thinking about their mistakes. Just delete!

Thanks to this cybersecurity article from Joseph Steinberg for explaining.

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Now that I’m a hiker (after one trip), I need HIKING BOOKS! (I already have the boots.)

I’ve been on exactly one hiking excursion (last week to Zion National Park), and now I want to do more! I just hosted a hiking book chat at work and the people I talked there to shared great experiences and gave me a lot of ideas. Here are five books about hiking preparedness, places to go and a couple inspirational books among many that caught my eye. All blurbs are from Amazon.

To keep me prepared:

SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John “Lofty” Wiseman

Revised to reflect the latest in survival knowledge and technology, and covering new topics such as urban survival and terrorism, the multimillion-copy worldwide bestseller SAS Survival Handbook is the definitive resource for all campers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers. From basic campcraft and navigation to fear management and strategies for coping with any type of disaster.

For suggestions on where to go:

100 Trails, 5000 Ideas from National Geographic

This authoritative travel guide―the next in National Geographic’s best-selling 5,000 Ideas series―takes you from the coast of Florida to the peaks of Wyoming on a series of epic hiking and walking adventures. So grab your hiking boots and get ready to explore 100 trails around all 50 states and Canada.

The World’s Best National Parks in 500 Walks by Mary Caperton Morton

Ever since Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 as the world’s first national park, the movement to preserve natural landscapes and habitats has spread to every continent. The World’s Best National Parks in 500 Walks is the perfect inspiration for every explorer, from the armchair traveler to the veteran hiker, with full-color photos and vivid descriptions of some of the world’s most spectacular hiking trails. Helpful tips on navigating the routes, planning your trips, and preparing for encounters with wildlife will have you lacing up your boots and strapping on your backpack, whether it’s for a short weekday stroll or a multiday expedition on the world’s most breathtaking trails.

And for inspiration:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.

Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford

In April 2008, Ed Stafford set off to become the first man ever to walk the entire length of the Amazon. He started on the Pacific coast of Peru, crossed the Andes Mountain range to find the official source of the river. His journey lead on through parts of Colombia and right across Brazil; all while outwitting dangerous animals, machete wielding indigenous people as well as negotiating injuries, weather and his own fears and doubts. Yet, Stafford was undeterred. On his grueling 860-day, 4,000-plus mile journey, Stafford witnessed the devastation of deforestation firsthand, the pressure on tribes due to loss of habitats as well as nature in its true-raw form. Jaw-dropping from start to finish, Walking the Amazon is the unforgettable and gripping story of an unprecedented adventure.

Have you ever been hiking? Are you an experienced hiker? Where have you hiked and what books do you recommend?

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Back from vacation

Hi Everyone,

Thank you to everyone who visited my blog while I was on vacation! I’m back now, but I have to work tomorrow and this weekend, so I will return to my blog early next week. If you emailed me about Author Updates or about being featured on Who’s That Indie Author, look for an email from me in the next few days.

Looking forward to catching up with you soon!

When “silent” characters find their voices – books with silent characters

Silence is never forever, especially in stories about characters who’ve been keeping quiet. These three “Silent” books are good examples of how quickly lives can turn upside down when a character finds her voice. From a patient who refuses to speak, to a sister who has left her family, to a wife who is tired of looking the other way, stories with characters like these are always great reads!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides  – Alicia Berenson does something strange after her husband’s murder. She stops talking. Not another word. Nothing to the London police, to her lawyer, and still now, years later, nothing to the doctors at the Grove, the psychiatric ward where she lives. The only clue to explain her actions is a self-portrait, painted a few days after the murder.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain – When buried family secrets surface, one thing is certain: once revealed, nothing will be the same. Riley McPherson has grown up believing her older sister Lisa, a talented violinist, committed suicide. She’d always thought that her sister’s depression was the reason. But that may not be what happened.

The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison – What’s beneath the surface of a seemingly happy relationship? Jodi and Todd have a smooth way of being together and it’s worked for twenty-some years. They’ve never officially married, but it doesn’t matter. This is a marriage and they have a nice rhythm, live a very nice life and have everything they want. Then we get to know them a little better…

Have you read any books with “silent” characters? Leave the title in the comments!

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Five books to share during Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time to think about self-care and taking steps to keep your mental health in good shape. Here are five books to keep us all on track. The first four descriptions are from Amazon and the last is from my own thoughts.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski PhD and Amelia Nagoski DMA: Currently on hold at the library. Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems by Daniel G. Amen M.D.: Renowned neuropsychiatrist Daniel Amen, M.D., includes new, cutting-edge research gleaned from more than 100,000 SPECT brain scans over the last quarter century and scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures work in your brain.

Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts by Guy Winch PhD: We all sustain emotional wounds. Failure, guilt, rejection, and loss are as much a part of life as the occasional scraped elbow. But while we typically bandage a cut or ice a sprained ankle, our first aid kit for emotional injuries is not just understocked—it’s nonexistent. Fortunately, there is such a thing as mental first aid for battered emotions. Drawing on the latest scientific research and using real-life examples, practicing psychologist Guy Winch, Ph.D. offers specific step-by-step treatments that are fast, simple, and effective.

Hope and Help for Your Nerves – End Anxiety Now by Dr. Claire Weekes: On my Kindle! Dr. Claire Weekes offers the results of years of experience treating real patients—including some who thought they’d never recover. With her simple, step-by-step guidance, you will learn how to understand and analyze your own symptoms of anxiety and find the power to conquer your fears for good.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb: I read this highly readable and informative book in 2020, just before the pandemic. Lori Gottlieb, a writer and psychotherapist, felt crushed when the long-term relationship with her boyfriend ended abruptly. She was certain she’d been wronged and wanted to find a way out of her pain. So she found her own therapist (Wendell) and, while he was helping her, she was helping her patients with many of the same issues, all of which come from being human. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is the story of four of Gottlieb’s patients and of her own journey to better self-understanding. She explains the similarity and why she wrote the book: “Our training has taught us theories and tools and techniques, but whirring beneath our hard-earned expertise is the fact that we know just how hard it is to be a person.”

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Grammar check – using apostrophes after names that end in “s”

I always wonder what to do when I refer to something that belongs to a person whose name ends in an s. In grammar talk, that’s the possessive case of nouns. Guess what? There are two correct ways to do it, so no stress! Just be consistent.

Here’s what I mean and both are correct:

Douglas’s boat

Douglas’ boat

This is all according to Grammarly, but if you want to dig deeper, check out this post from and

Does this rule trip you up? Leave a comment!

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Microsoft Word graded my blog post, Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. What does that mean for SEO?

Have you noticed that the most recent Spelling & Grammar feature on Microsoft Word now grades your work? I recently received an 86% on a book review. How dare they! I did not want a B so I removed all the contractions and got a 100%.

If you dive deeper, you can see some interesting stats including the percent of passive sentences, the Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. My book review scored a 66.5 in Reading Ease and a 7.6 Grade Level.

But what do those scores mean?

According to, the FRE score ranges between 0 and 100, with 100 being the easiest to read. To reach the largest reading audience, scores should be between 70 and 80. In the 1940s, Rudolph Flesch came up with the measurement for the Associated Press, to make newspapers be more readable. If you’re into math, visit to learn how it’s calculated.

The U.S. Navy developed the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (read how here), first to use in technical manuals and training. The goal is 8, which means an eighth-grade reading level.

I learned more about both scores and media readability from

To give you an idea of where some major publications fall in this range Reader’s Digest has a Flesch Reading Ease around 65, Time magazine has a score of 52 and the Harvard Law Review falls somewhere in the low 30s.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level applies a reading grade level to your writing. New York Times articles have a tenth-grade reading level and romance novels have about a fifth-grade reading level. A sixth-grade student could understand content with a Flesch Reading Ease of 60 to 70.

Do these measurements matter for blog posts and SEO?

Maybe, when it comes to readability, but, according to, it depends what kind of content you publish. If it’s technical, the FRE is bound to be more difficult, so it’s best to know your readers and write for them.

FYI I got a 90% on this post, with at FRE of 62.3% and a Grade Level of 8.6.

Do you use MS Word’s Spelling & Grammar tool? Have you ever looked at these other scores? Leave a comment!

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Bad Cinderella

Yesterday I went to New York to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bad Cinderella, a retelling of the classic fairy tale. Wow! From the get-go, I was completely engrossed in what was happening onstage. There was so much to see and hear, I did not know where to look. All I knew was that I did not want to miss a thing.

First, there was the amazing cast. From the stars to the Ensemble to the Swings (see how I’m talking show lingo?), every single actor was a consummate professional. It’s not just a matter of learning lines and stage position. The dialogue, singing and dancing, and I mean dancing, were perfectly choreographed. This is hard work and the actors were totally fit. The singing and the ranges, were incredible. I also liked how well the actors showed their characters’ emotions, clearly visible from our seats: anger, love, sadness, resentment, greed and rivalry, and all their nuances. Equally impressive were the scenery and lighting and how seamlessly the crew moved to turn the Town Square into Cinderella’s Chateau into The Woods and other settings. It was perfect.

I loved reading about the Cast and Creative (more lingo), including how they started out what other shows they’ve been in and the brief little thanks and messages each included in each bio. Some of these performers are making their debuts. There are too many to name, but of course the lead roles were exceptionally awesome, including Linedy Genao (Cinderella), Carolee Carmello (Stepmother), Grace McLean (Queen), Jordan Dobson (Prince Sebastian), Sami Gayle (Adele), Morgan Higgins (Marie) and Cameron Loyal (Prince Charming).

The show is both funny and moving, with the all-embraceable theme of being true to yourself. There are also a few surprises and twists (if you ever plan to go, don’t let anyone tell you about them before you see it). I teared up several times and when the show was over, all I wanted to do was clap and clap.

I’m so glad I went!

Want the details? Here’s a description of the show from

In the exceptionally beautiful kingdom of Belleville, the fields are idyllic, the prince is charming, and the townsfolk are ravishing. Only one stubborn peasant stands in the way of absolute perfection: Cinderella. To the flawless residents and royals of Belleville, this damsel IS the distress.

From ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER comes “a big, colorful, fun fairy tale rewrite” (The New York Times), featuring an original story and book by Oscar®-winning writer EMERALD FENNELL (Promising Young Woman, “Killing Eve”) and lyrics by Tony Award® winner DAVID ZIPPEL (City of Angels). Choreographed by JOANN M. HUNTER (School of Rock) and directed by LAURENCE CONNOR (Les Misérables, School of Rock).

My great blogging friend Books and Bakes saw the UK version, Cinderella, in July. Be sure to check out her review here.

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