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Mrs. Debra E. Humm-bremser

I decided to use my time being laid up to get smarter! In 18 months I've listened to over 200 books, mostly history, literature & biography.

Pacific Grove, CA | Member Since 2013

3
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 16 reviews
  • 20 ratings
  • 732 titles in library
  • 52 purchased in 2015
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  • The History of Us

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Leah Stewart
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (37)

    Eloise Hempel is on her way to teach a class at Harvard when she receives devastating news. Her sister and her husband have been killed in a tragic accident, and Eloise must return home to Cincinnati to take her sister's three children, Theodora, Josh, and Claire, out of the hands of her own incapable mother. Nearly two decades later, Eloise is still in that house, still thinking about what she left behind. With Claire leaving for New York City for a promising ballet career, Eloise has plans to finally embark on a life that's hers.

    Debbie says: "Disappointing"
    "The story of an Accidental Family"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The History of Us rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Occasionally, I throw in some fiction in my long line of history/biographies. I'm never disappointed. Characters are fully developed in this story of a woman who reached her goal of Harvard professor only to give it up to raise her sister's orphaned children. After they're grown, they are all still bound together by the old Cleveland manse that everyone grew up in, but can't let go of.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Devotion: A Rat Story

    • UNABRIDGED (52 mins)
    • By Maile Meloy
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Eleanor is in such a rush to move away from her parents that she allows an imperious realtor to rush her to close on the too-good-to-be-true home without an inspection. Shortly after the house becomes legally hers - with every cent and all of her pride and future tied up in the property - the giant rats show themselves. In the yard, in the kitchen, on her daughter's bed.

    Mrs. Debra E. Humm-bremser says: "An hour of perfectly chosen words"
    "An hour of perfectly chosen words"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've underestimated the power of the short story! Maile Meloy has combined imagery with suspense to make magic out of a tale that might be right under your own nose. Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite narrators with the perfect cadence of a storyteller for the adult in all of us grownup kids.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Cynthia Griffin Wolff
    • Narrated By Anna Fields
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    The mystery of how a wealthy New York socialite became a major American novelist is brilliantly explored in this fascinating critical biography, widely considered to be the most perceptive introduction to Edith Wharton's life and work.

    Charles Bland says: "Very useful contribution to Wharton biography"
    "Feast of Words - know what you're embarking on"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    I fall exactly between the reviewers, Linda Lou and Charles Bland. I appreciate the erudite weight of a well-researched examination of Edith Wharton's contribution to literature as well as the many sources both personal and literary that made it possible. But that examination can be exhausting and professorial for the typical, casual listener who may not be expecting the kind of reading you would only tackle if you were armed with the red pen of an editor, doing a favor to a doctoral thesis candidate. Be forewarned.

    I had no problems with the narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • John Quincy Adams

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Harlow Giles Unger
    • Narrated By Johnny Heller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (312)
    Performance
    (282)
    Story
    (279)

    He fought for Washington, served with Lincoln, witnessed Bunker Hill, and sounded the clarion against slavery on the eve of the Civil War. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of La Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. John Quincy Adams was all of these things and more. In this masterful biography, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals Adams as a towering figure in the nation’s formative years.

    Gotta Tellya says: "Informative and well written."
    "Imagine a life's LOWpoint being POTUS - that's JQ"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Biography is almost a religious experience for me. This one blew me away because John Quincy usually basks in his father's reflected glory. I started keeping track of his achievements and here are a few:
    * Bunker Hill witness at age 7
    * Multilingual diplomat
    * Czar Alexander's favorite
    * Secretary of State during War of 1812, Florida Annexation, Monroe Doctrine, and he preserved our border with Canada
    * Resisted a political party affiliation
    * 1st President to be photographed, to cut his hair short, and to wear his pants long
    * Became Abolitionist as he matured, beginning with the Missouri Compromise
    * Opposed Texas Annexation because of its slave status
    * Lincoln used his words as the basis for the Emancipation Proclamation
    * Amistad defense lawyer
    * Predicted the Civil War
    * Died on the floor of Congress

    His "Lighthouses in the sky" interest lead to his endowment of astronomy
    Helped protect the funds endowed for the Smithsonian

    His massive diary, kept from age 11 on, is used as a first hand source for historians.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Loving Frank

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Nancy Horan
    • Narrated By Joyce Bean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (868)
    Performance
    (422)
    Story
    (432)

    I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current. So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them.

    Eva Gannon says: "Fascinating"
    "Fleshing out History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As the saying goes, if someone had made up this story, no one would believe it. I've always admired Frank Lloyd Wright, but never knew the story of his love story that broke up 2 families. Divorce happened at the turn of the century, but was still scandalous.
    His lady love was an educated woman who married later in life and became a translator for Swedish feminist Ellen Key. The author, Nancy Horan, does justice to Mamah Borthwick by raising her from her previous status as a footnote in history to the muse of an architectural genius.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Daring to Dream: Dream #1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Nora Roberts
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (497)
    Performance
    (351)
    Story
    (355)

    Margo Sullivan had everything a young woman could ask for. But while growing up along the rocky cliffs of Monterey, she couldn't help but dream of bigger things. The daughter of the Templeton's stern Irish housekeeper, Margo had been treated like a member of the family. Deep down, she knew that money could not buy the one thing she craved most - her mother's acceptance. Maybe things would be different if she could be sweet like Laura - or had Kate's shrewd head for business.

    Judy says: "Great Start!"
    "A little too schmaltzy this time, Nora"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I saw the Monterey locale and have appreciated the writing of Nora Roberts, even if that makes me cringe a little.
    Didn't come up to her usual snuff. The bed scenes were a little too much for my taste. Fabio came to mind.
    The Monterey references were a bit too generic for this Monterey native.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Fortune Hunter: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Daisy Goodwin
    • Narrated By Clare Corbett
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (77)
    Story
    (75)

    Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as "Sisi", is the Princess Diana of 19th-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse. Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National....

    Susan says: "Terrific book!"
    "There goes my weekend!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The protagonist is an 1870s heiress who takes photographs of elite groups as record of entertainment in "season." She then plays with the results in her darkroom, changing the human faces into animals just for fun. The characters are the kind you miss when it's over.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sisterhood

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Helen Bryan
    • Narrated By Laura Roppe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (331)
    Performance
    (294)
    Story
    (295)

    Reeling from a broken engagement, adopted 19-year-old Menina Walker flees to Spain to bury her misery by writing her overdue college thesis - and soon finds herself on an unexpected journey into the past. The subject of her study is Tristan Mendoza, an obscure 16th-century artist whose signature includes a tiny swallow - the same swallow depicted on a medal that is Menina’s only link to her birth family. Hoping her research will reveal the swallow’s significance and clue her in to her origins, Menina discovers the ancient chronicle of a Spanish convent containing the stories of five orphaned girls hidden from the Spanish Inquisition.

    Kafwood says: "Implausible & schoolgirlish"
    "Andalusia Old World secret New World discovery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm a sucker for historical fiction that spans generations, so this twisting tale from an ancient fortress of convent in mountainous Spain to its offshoot in the Andes of the Incas fits the bill perfectly. Strong female characters, interaction among Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures and sweetly subtle romance pique interest from start to finish.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Things They Carried

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Tim O'Brien
    • Narrated By Bryan Cranston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1811)
    Performance
    (1666)
    Story
    (1653)

    Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried’s portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner-Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book’s hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.

    Mel says: "Heavy Load"
    "Eloquent reminiscing of Vietnam"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My takeaway quotes/
    ✅They would repair the leaks in their eyes.
    ✅They used a hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness.
    ✅...all the ways I might die...
    ✅ A true war story makes the stump believe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The American Heiress: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Daisy Goodwin
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (564)
    Performance
    (422)
    Story
    (424)

    Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the 20th century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.

    Maria says: "I loved this book!"
    "Almost like a Downton PREquel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Like Downton, the protagonist is a Cora who marries into English nobility in the 1890s. Like Downton, there is a parallel story downstairs. Like Downton, there's a clash between the mothers-in-law as well as a clash of cultures between the staid and brash.

    When it ended, I was not ready. I had to relisten to the last chapter. Unlike Downton, we do not have the luxury of following the next generation's story. Maybe in a sequel to American Heiress?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Little Failure: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Jonathan Todd Ross
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (197)
    Performance
    (166)
    Story
    (172)

    After three acclaimed novels - The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far.

    Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging that feels epic and intimate and distinctly his own. Provocative, hilarious, and inventive, Little Failure reveals a deeper vein of emotion in Gary Shteyngart' s prose.

    HRD says: "I loved this book - funny, sad, all that nonsense"
    "Modern Soviet Immigrant Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This author is smartly witty. The narrator is genius. His Russian accent gets fainter as the story goes along and the protagonist assimilates into the American culture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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