Lessons from the Prairie by Melissa Francis

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I was thrilled to be offered a copy of this book to review by Ms. Francis’ publicist. I absolutely ADORED Little House on the Prairie as a child, first the books then the show, and I certainly remember Melissa Francis as the fictional “Cassandra Cooper”. What I didn’t realize was how funny she was in real life – or how smart. This was an interesting read, with some parts being laugh out loud funny and some parts being so touching they made me a bit teary. While I thought it would be all about Little House and what it was like on set and off, it went through Melissa’s life and some of her personal journeys as well.

Thank you for my review copy!

Lessons from the Prairie delivers one belly laugh after another as Melissa tees up an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to tackling life’s toughest challenges, and making your life happier.” – Megyn Kelly
For fans of the beloved TV show Little House on the Prairie, a self-help book by Melissa Francis, bestselling author of Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter and child star of Little House, revealing important life lessons inspired by a childhood on set.
Melissa Francis was only eight years old when she won the role of a lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls on the world’s most famous prime-time soap opera, Little House on the Prairie.

Now in Lessons from the Prairie, she shares behind-the-scenes stories from the set, and lessons learned from the show’s dynamic creator, Michael Landon, that have echoed throughout Melissa’s adult life. With novel insights on hard work, making mistakes, and even spirituality, Francis shares inspirational and practical life lessons that will appeal both to her current TV fans, and fans of one of the most adored TV shows of all time.

Biography

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Melissa Francis, anchor of MONEY with Melissa Francis and Markets Now on the Fox Business Network, did not get her start on television in news. At the age of eight, she played Cassandra Cooper Ingalls on the world’s most famous prime-time soap opera, Little House on the Prairie, working alongside 1980s icons Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, and Jason Bateman.

In her book Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter, Melissa recounts her life as a child star in the 1980s, a life wholly controlled by a highly neurotic and dangerously competitive “tiger mother.” Now the mother of two young boys herself, Melissa reflects not only on her past but on the subject of parenthood and the impact of relentlessly driving a child to succeed, an approach that sent Melissa’s sister into a deadly spiral.

“What I have learned from a difficult childhood is that, no matter what has happened in the past, you can take charge of your life and be happy. Your life is your own. In fact, a tough past is actually a richness of experience to draw upon. You know what doesn’t work,” says Melissa.

Melissa eventually left acting, earned a degree in Economics from Harvard University, and went on to a successful career as a broadcast journalist. Today, Melissa Francis lives in New York City with her husband and two children. She anchors two daily shows on the Fox Business Network, including Money with Melissa Francis, which covers the intersection of Wall Street and Main Street. Prior to her role at FOX Business, Melissa spent nine years at CNBC, where she anchored shows such as Power Lunch, The Call, and On the Money, and made regular contributions to the Today show and Weekend Today.

BAT DAD! A Parody by Blake Wilson

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I don’t know if you follow Bat Dad on You Tube but we find him hilarious!

Apparently, Blake Wilson spontaneously purchased a Batman mask one day at Target and was goofing around, talking like Batman — suddenly a star was born!

My kids find the Bat Dad videos hysterical, and I have to say, Blake’s patient wife (Jen!!) and really cute four kids make them fun.

This small book is a compilation of Bat Dad moments, set like a comic book, with a picture and word bubble per page. Many of them seemed familiar to me, so I am guessing they are taken from the Bat Dad videos.

While my middle-schoolers also enjoy Bat Dad, he’s really meant for parents — with humor that at times borders on “adult” and/or is really meant to speak to the average parent who is dealing with all that comes with raising kids and running a household.

Thank you, Blogging for Books and Three Rivers Press, for my review copy!

Review: WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME by Josh Sundquist

I picked up a copy of this book on Net Galley. I thought it would be a fun mix of Wimpy Kid meets Seinfeld. WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME: EMBARRASSINGLY A TRUE STORY is Josh Sundquist’s story of how he never had a girlfriend and his quest to track down significant girls from his past to find out why exactly that was. Sounds funny, right?

However, this little book was a whole lot more. First of all, Josh is a cancer survivor, having had cancer at the age of nine and having his leg amputated at that time. He also comes from a strictly religious family that homeschooled him until high school. His story is about how he comes to terms with his identity as both a person and as an amputee. Josh is funny and has a great style of writing that flows easily and is quick to read. He adds little graphs and curves to illustrate his points. However, the pain of his self-consciousness, especially when he is in middle and high school, flows through so poignantly that at one point I turned to my husband and said, “This book better have a happy ending because my heart is breaking for this poor guy”. Well, SPOILER ALERT, there is a happy ending (thankfully!). Josh finally realizes that his own worst enemy is himself and also learns self-acceptance.

I had not heard of Josh before reading his book, but he is a well-known and popular personality. He is an amazing paralympic athlete and motivational speaker. However, when I started reading this book I knew Josh only as a young boy who had lived a fairly sheltered life that had been overshadowed by cancer. I felt for his parents, who I have to assume had real difficulty in letting go of this son that they had almost lost. Josh’s portrayal of them is rather funny, but as a parent, I can see where their protectiveness comes from.

So glad you got the happy ending you deserve, Josh!

Thanks, Net Galley, for my copy!

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Quick Kids’ Review: How to Make Friends and Monsters by Ron Bates

I received HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND MONSTERS from my friends at Zondervan and gave it to my 4th grader to read. Here’s the blurb from Amazon on it:

Some Friends Are Just Worth Making For Howard Boward, science genius, making friends in middle school is hard. The other kids have more fun creatively expanding Howard’s name than actually hanging out, as in How-weird or How-Lame. . So, why not actually make a friend? A little wonder putty, some DNA, a few accidentally spilled chemicals and—boom!—instant friend. Monster friend, that is. Franklin ends up being cool in middle school, and he helps Howard climb the uber-popular ladder, becoming How-Cool. But the new fame and friendship isn’t exactly everything Howard hoped. Turns out real friendship might not be so simple, even when you create your own friends from scratch.

Mini Me says that the theme of this book is it’s hard to be a new kid. Overall, she says it is really funny and fun to read. It had some hard words, but not too many. At 352 pages, she was fine with it, but it may seem like a long book to some. We made sure we got a copy for our school library!