Review: How Stella Learned To Talk

How Stella Learned To Talk by Christina Hunger
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Pub Date: 5/4/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy and audiobook copy of this book from William Morrow Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: An incredible, revolutionary true story and surprisingly simple guide to teaching your dog to talk from speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger, who has taught her dog, Stella, to communicate using simple paw-sized buttons associated with different words.

When speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger first came home with her puppy, Stella, it didn’t take long for her to start drawing connections between her job and her new pet. During the day, she worked with toddlers with significant delays in language development and used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices to help them communicate. At night, she wondered: If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn’t they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?

Christina decided to put her theory to the test with Stella and started using a paw-sized button programmed with her voice to say the word “outside” when clicked, whenever she took Stella out of the house. A few years later, Stella now has a bank of more than thirty word buttons, and uses them daily either individually or together to create near-complete sentences.

How Stella Learned to Talk is part memoir and part how-to guide. It chronicles the journey Christina and Stella have taken together, from the day they met, to the day Stella “spoke” her first word, and the other breakthroughs they’ve had since. It also reveals the techniques Christina used to teach Stella, broken down into simple stages and actionable steps any dog owner can use to start communicating with their pets.

Filled with conversations that Stella and Christina have had, as well as the attention to developmental detail that only a speech-language pathologist could know, How Stella Learned to Talk will be the indispensable dog book for the new decade.

Review: How Stella Learned To Talk is a true story about speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger teaching her dog, Stella, to communicate using buttons associated with different words. Not only does Christina share her journey with Stella, but she gives us techniques on how we can communicate with our dogs as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this memoir! I’m always trying to find new ways on how to be the best puppy mama to my little one, and I found this book to be extremely helpful! Though I may not go the button route with my puppy, it did make me realize what queues I read from her body language to figure out what she needs from me and how I can help her. I highly recommend this to any dog lovers out there!


Review: Greenlights

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pub Date: 10/20/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy and audiobook copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: From the Academy Award®–winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It’s a love letter. To life.

It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.

Good luck.

Review: Greenlights has been in my TBR since late last year when I received a physical copy from Random House. What can I say about the GoodReads Choice Award for Memoir & Autobiography 2020 that hasn’t already been said? First off, I really enjoyed this book! Matthew’s memoir explores taking chances, lessons learned, reminiscing memories, and truths. I loved switching from reading the book and listening to the audiobook. Matthew has notes and photos in the physical book which is fun to go through. The audiobook is also fun because Matthew narrates it himself and I love his way of storytelling. Highly recommend listen to this gem of a memoir!

Review: A Promised Land

A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Publisher: Penguin Random House / Crown
Pub Date: 11/17/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making, from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy.

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

Review: Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land, was one of my most anticipated reads. Though I don’t necessarily agree with all of his political views, I appreciated reading his experience being president for 8 years. I kept switching from reading the book and listening to the audiobook. I enjoyed seeing the photos in the physical book. Obama does a wonderful job narrating the book which he has a strong and resonating voice. One downside of the book that I had a difficulty overlooking was that it was extremely long. There were a few parts I felt that dragged on and lost my interest. Also as unfair as it is, I found myself comparing his book to Michelle’s. I adored Michelle’s book so I had expectations to love this as well. Overall, I’d recommend reading this if you’re looking into more insight of Obama’s presidency.

Review: The Book of Joe

The Book of Joe by Jeff Wilser
Publisher: Three Rivers Press / Penguin Random House
Pub Date: 10/24/2017

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: The aviators. The Amtrak. The bromance with Barack Obama. Few politicians are as iconic, or as beloved, as Joe Biden. Now, in The Book of Joe, Biden fans and political junkies alike have the ultimate look at America’s favorite vice president.

Covering the key chapters in Biden’s life and career–and filled with classic Biden-isms, including “That’s a bunch of malarkey” and “I may be Irish, but I’m not stupid”–this entertaining blend of biography, advice, and muscle cars explores the moments that forged Joe Biden, and what they can teach us today.

But along with this “Wisdom of Joe,” the book also reveals the inspirational story of a man whose life has been shaped by his father’s advice: Get back up. Time after time, Biden has bounced back from both personal heartbreaks and professional disappointments, and just like Joe, sometimes we all have to dust ourselves off and fight back.

Packed with lessons we need now more than ever, The Book of Joe is both a celebration of a revered political figure and a testament to the power of a life filled with integrity, perseverance, and plenty of ice cream.

Review: In honor of President-Elect’s Inauguration tomorrow, I decided to pick up this quick read. The Book of Joe features Joe Biden’s key events in his political career and personal life packed with tidbits of his wisdom and lessons learned. I enjoyed learning more about our President-Elect. I liked that the chapters were short and focused on critical points in his life that made him who he is today. The author admits from the beginning that he’s a Joe Biden fan so I knew before going in that this would only paint him in a certain light which I didn’t mind. Whether you love him or not, I recommend reading this book if you’re looking to learn more about President-Elect Joe Biden

Review: Barely Functional Adult

Barely Functional Adult by Meichi Ng
Publication: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 11/24/2020

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book from Harper Perennial in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Wielding her trademark balance of artful humor, levity, and heartbreaking introspection, Meichi Ng’s indisputably relatable collection of short stories holds a mirror to our past, present, and future selves.

Featuring a swaddled, gender-neutral, Barely Functional Adult as its protagonist, who says all the things we think but cannot say, this book is equal parts humorous and heartbreaking as it spans a spectrum of topics including imposter syndrome, therapy, friendships, first loves, letting go of exes, and just trying to find your purpose in the world. Prepare to excitedly shove this book in your friend’s face with little decorum as you shout, “THIS IS SO US!”

In this beautiful, four-color collection compiled completely of never-before-seen content, Meichi perfectly captures the best and worst of us in every short story, allowing us to weep with pleasure at our own fallibility. Hilarious, relatable, and heart-wrenchingly honest, This Book Is a Time Machine will have you laughing and crying in the same breath, and taking solace in the fact that we’re anything but alone in this world.

Review: Barely Functional Adult is Meichi Ng’s debut book. This nonfiction humorous memoir is a collection of short stories written in a memoir writing style with graphics. Overall, I thought this was a decent read. The author’s perspective of not being a young nor old person but trying to figure out your place in the world is something many people can relate. I wasn’t too impressed with the graphics in this book and some of the chapters seemed to be a bit random and meaningless. The chapters felt a bit choppy. Overall, I’d recommend reading this only if you are familiar with the author’s Instagram.

Rating: 3/5