All in Book Reviews

Time-Saving Cleaning Tricks Inspired by ‘Get Your Sh*t Together’

Cleaning sucks. I'd rather be reading. But I want to live in a clean home. I do not want to spend a lot of time cleaning it. Ergo, with the help of “Get Your Sh*t Together” by Sarah Knight, I've developed a few cleaning tricks, hacks, cheats or whatever you want to call them, so I have more time to read. I’m not proposing that you live some sort of hyper-scheduled life where you rush through your day and reading is just another task on your to-do list. That being said, if I can borrow time from a monotonous task like cleaning so I can spend a little more time doing something I love, I’m going to and you should too. 

'White Houses' Review

Eleanor Roosevelt had an affair with a woman, who knew? Apparently, it’s not so common, common knowledge. In “White Houses,” Amy Bloom tells a fictional story about the real-lif romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. “White Houses” fascinated me, but not it the way you might guess. Read on for my review of “White Houses” as well as a look at the history surrounding the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.

'Carnegie's Maid' Review and Discussion Questions

Pam Jenoff’s quote on the front of “Carnegie’s Maid” says it all: “Downton Abbey fans should flock to this charming tale.” I’m a Downton Abby fan, and I loved this book. Like pretty much every book here on Picking Books, “Carnegie’s Maid” contains a wealth of accurate historical information. And within its pages you get a good sense of who Andrew Carnegie was and a loose outline of his rise to prominence.  Benedict also touches on the struggles Irish people continued to face after the famine in 1840 and the difficulties immigrants faced both on their way to America and once they got here. What I love most about “Carnegie’s Maid,” however, is how Benedict delves into Pittsburgh’s rich cultural history.

"The Nightingale" Review

A review of “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah as well as a discussion about Hannah’s inspiration for “The Nightingale,” Andrée de Jongh. “The Nightingale” is about how two French sisters, Viann and Isabelle, survive World War II. It has everything a good World War II book should have: pain, suffering, strength, hope, bravery, and loads of history.

I Learned More about World War II from 'When My Name Was Keoko' Than I Learned in School

I have no recollection of learning about World War II in high school. I took AP U.S. History, so you’d think it would have come up, and it might have, but I don’t remember it. So, before I read “When My Name Was Keoko,” all I knew about Japan during World War II was that we dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I knew nothing about Korea. “When My Name Was Keoko” changed all that. Better late than never, right?

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park came out in 2002. The book follows a young Korean girl, Sun-hee (Keoko), and her older brother, Tea-yul (Nobuo), during World War II. By the time we get to Sun-hee’s story, the Japanese have occupied Korea for thirty years. When My Name Was Keoko begins with Sun-hee having to choose a Japanese name. “Graciously allowing”—as the Japanese Emperor’s official order phrased it—Korean's to choose Japanese names was one tactic Japan used to indoctrinate the population of Korea.

Margaret Fishback, Maternity Leave, and the Glass Ceiling in 'Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk'

In “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk,” author Kathleen Rooney explores women's issues using Margaret Fishback, the highest-paid ad woman in the the 1930s, as inspiration. In Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, Rooney explains the state of maternity leave and the glass ceiling in the 1930s and 1940s with historical accuracy. Using Lillian Boxfish as a jumping-off point, let's discuss maternity leave and the glass ceiling today.