From the creator of The Good Place and the cocreator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world.
Most people think of themselves as “good,” but it’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad”—especially in a world filled with complicated choices and pitfalls and booby traps and bad advice. Fortunately, many smart philosophers have been pondering this conundrum for millennia and they have guidance for us. With bright wit and deep insight, How to Be Perfect explains concepts like deontology, utilitarianism, existentialism, ubuntu, and more so we can sound cool at parties and become better people.
Schur starts off with easy ethical questions like “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (No.) and works his way up to the most complex moral issues we all face. Such as: Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people? How much money should I give to charity? Why bother being good at all when there are no consequences for being bad? And much more. By the time the book is done, we’ll know exactly how to act in every conceivable situation, so as to produce a verifiably maximal amount of moral good. We will be perfect, and all our friends will be jealous. OK, not quite. Instead, we’ll gain fresh, funny, inspiring wisdom on the toughest issues we face every day.
About Michael Schur
Michael Herbert Schur is an American television producer, writer, and character actor. He was a producer and writer for the comedy series The Office, and co-created Parks and Recreation with Office producer Greg Daniels.
A book of philosophy written by the creator of The Good Place?!
From the creators of the #1 podcast Limetown, an explosive prequel about a teenager who learns of a mysterious research facility where over three hundred people have disappeared—including her uncle—with clues that become the key to discovering the secrets of this strange town.
On a seemingly ordinary day, seventeen-year-old Lia Haddock hears news that will change her life forever: three hundred men, women, and children living at a research facility in Limetown, Tennessee, have disappeared without a trace. Among the missing is Emile Haddock, Lia’s uncle.
What happened to the people of Limetown? It’s all anyone can talk about. Except Lia’s parents, who refuse to discuss what might have happened there. They refuse, even, to discuss anything to do with Emile.
As a student journalist, Lia begins an investigation that will take her far from her home, discovering clues about Emile’s past that lead to a shocking secret—one with unimaginable implications not only for the people of Limetown, but for Lia and her family. The only problem is…she’s not the only one looking for answers.
Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie are first-rate storytellers, in every medium. Critics called their podcast Limetown “creepy and otherworldly” (The New York Times) and “endlessly fun” (Vox), and their novel goes back to where it all began. Working with Cote Smith, a PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Finalist, they’ve crafted an exhilarating mystery that asks big questions about what we owe to our families and what we owe to ourselves, about loss, discovery, and growth. Threaded throughout is Emile’s story—told in these pages for the first time ever.
About Cote Smith
Cote Smith grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas, and on various army bases around the country. He earned his MFA from the University of Kansas, and his stories have been featured in One Story, Crazyhorse, and FiveChapters, among other publications. His first novel, Hurt People, was a Finalist for the 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, a 2017 Kansas Notable Book Award winner, and winner of the 2017 High Plains First Book Award.
This podcast was a ton of fun to listen to. I haven’t listened to too many fictional podcasts (I tend to prefer the non-fictional ones) but the story was definitely interesting and reminded me a lot of some classic X-Files. Will be fun to get a backstory on Limetown in print form!
Short Summary: When Judah Cannon is released from prison and returns to his hometown of Silas, Florida, he finds himself swiftly wrapped up in the troublesome workings of his family once again except this time may not result in prison, but death.
Thoughts: Steph Post has written a riveting noir-style story about revenge and betrayal that switches up the typical Appalachian setting of most Southern Gothic novels and gives us a peek at the dynamic and dangerous world of Florida scrub country.
Verdict: Daniel Woodrell, Donald Ray Pollock, and Cormac McCarthy are all big names of the often lurid genre but Steph Post proves with Lightwood that her name is just as deserving to be listed amongst them.
Short Summary: Aiden McCall and Thad Broom have been best friends since they were children, both trapped by the imaginary confines of their hometown even after a huge amount of money ends up in their possession after witnessing the violent death of their drug dealer.
Thoughts: Joy’s graceful prose is all the more evident when its backdrop is a brutal tale but the two pair perfectly by focusing on the powerful loyalty between two lifelong friends.
Short Summary: Life is never quiet for Nevada Baylor who realizes she’s in love with Mad Rogan, has to contend with being hired for a job by his beautiful ex, but she’s also dealing with her evil grandmother trying to kidnap her solely because of the power she possessed.
Thoughts: The intricate world-building, passionate romance, and overall excitement of this series continue in this installment that just might not be the last in the trilogy as first presumed.
Verdict: This is the 19th Ilona Andrews story so clearly I’m a bit of a fangirl; however, it never ceases to amaze me the originality of their stories and how I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of them.
Short Summary: In Practical Magic we learn about the Owens sisters in the present day and in this unexpected prequel, we learn about their ancestors and the curse on the family that dates back to the early 1600s.
Thoughts: The Rules of Magic is an enchanting story that flows softly, never with any sense of urgency or climax, but delineates on a family that we never quite knew we wanted (or needed) to know more of until this was released.
Verdict: I was worried that this prequel (released twenty-two years after Practical Magic would feel stale and wouldn’t possess the same magic as its predecessor: I was wrong.
From Laura Dave—the author of the “addictive” (Us Weekly), “winning” (Publishers Weekly) and critically acclaimed bestseller Eight Hundred Grapes—comes a new novel about the secrets we keep…even from ourselves.
Sunshine Mackenzie truly is living the dream. A lifestyle guru for the modern age, Sunshine is beloved by millions of people who tune into her YouTube cooking show, and millions more scour her website for recipes, wisdom, and her enticing suggestions for how to curate a perfect life. She boasts a series of #1 New York Times bestselling cookbooks, a devoted architect husband, and a reputation for sincerity and kindness—Sunshine seems to have it all. But she’s hiding who she really is. And when her secret is revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. What Sunshine does in the ashes of destruction will save her in more ways than she can imagine.
In our modern world, where celebrity is a careful construct, Laura Dave’s compelling, enticing novel explores the devastating effect of the secrets we keep in public…and in private. Hello, Sunshine is a fresh, provocative look at a woman teetering between a scrupulously assembled life and the redemptive power of revealing the truth.
About Laura Dave
Laura Dave is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The First Husband, The Divorce Party, London Is The Best City In America, and the forthcoming Eight Hundred Grapes. Dave’s fiction and essays have been published in The New York Times, ESPN, Redbook, Glamour and Ladies Home Journal.
Dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA Today), Dave has appeared on CBS’s The Early Show, Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends and NPR’s All Things Considered. Cosmopolitan Magazine recently named her a “Fun and Fearless Phenom of the Year.”
Three of her novels have been optioned for the big screen with Dave adapting Eight Hundred Grapes for Fox2000.
There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…
Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.
But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.
Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…
Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.
‘Synchronization. Systems operating with all their parts in synchrony, said to be synchronous, or in sync. The interrelationship of things that might normally exist separately.
In physics: It’s called simultaneity. In music: rhythm.
In your life: epic failure.’
A mere week before Georgia is set to marry, when she’s in the middle of her final dress fitting, she sees something on the street that leaves her questioning everything about life and relationship. Incapable of any rational thinking, she gets in her car still clad in her wedding gown and drives to her childhood home seeking solace. Unfortunately, her arrival is unexpected and she discovers things at home are also complicated making her feel yet again that she has no idea what has been going on around her and she has no idea how to even begin to handle it all.
Eight Hundred Grapes takes you straight into the heart of wine country: Sebastopol, CA in Sonoma County. Dave impeccably describes the rolling green hills, the winding roads and the foggy mornings before the sun breaks through. If you’ve ever been there personally, her detailed descriptions will successfully dredge up all of your memories of this beautiful place.
The detailed descriptions also extend to the multi-faceted characters that grace these pages. Georgia was an incredible character that had an admirable relationship with her parents, especially her father, that was really quite touching. The way she managed to face a whole slew of personal drama was done in a way that can not only be understood but appreciated. Grapes might at first seem like your typical family drama but it has a definite quality and character to it that was most appealing with writing that did an incredible job in perfectly describing feelings that can so often be difficult to convey in words. This story really snuck up on me in terms of feeling and emotion; I wasn’t expecting to become as involved in the outcome of the characters as much as I did but Dave’s writing and sense of normalcy really pull you into the story.
‘Wasn’t that the gift of a home? You looked at it the same way, but then when you needed it to, it showed you all over again the many ways you’d been during the time that you had been living there. The many ways it had brought you back to yourself. The many ways it still brought you back to yourself.’
Eight Hundred Grapes is a poignant tale of learning to deal with the imperfections of life, about listening to your heart and the significance of having somewhere you can truly call home.
Fans of The Historian won’t be able to put down this spellbinding literary horror story in which a Columbia professor must use his knowledge of demonic mythology to rescue his daughter from the Underworld.
Professor David Ullman’s expertise in the literature of the demonic—notably Milton’s Paradise Lost—has won him wide acclaim. But David is not a believer.
One afternoon he receives a visitor at his campus office, a strikingly thin woman who offers him an invitation: travel to Venice, Italy, witness a “phenomenon,” and offer his professional opinion, in return for an extravagant sum of money. Needing a fresh start, David accepts and heads to Italy with his beloved twelve-year-old daughter Tess.
What happens in Venice will send David on an unimaginable journey from skeptic to true believer, as he opens himself up to the possibility that demons really do exist. In a terrifying quest guided by symbols and riddles from the pages of Paradise Lost, David attempts to rescue his daughter from the Unnamed—a demonic entity that has chosen him as its messenger.
‘Wandering this darksome desert, as my way Lies through your spacious empire up to light Alone, and without giude, half lost, I seek…’
‘The Demonologist’ is a sophisticated thriller that focuses solely on John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ (and I think it should be noted that it’s not a prerequisite to have read Milton before ‘The Demonologist’ either.) It’s not overly steeped in symbolism without sufficient explanation that anyone couldn’t pick it up and understand it.
David Ullman is a non-believer despite the fact that he has dedicated his adult life to studying demonic literature, primarily Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. When he’s approached one afternoon and asked to be a witness to a phenomenon that requires his professional opinion as a ‘Demonologist’ he accepts the offer and shortly afterwards is headed to Venice, Italy with his twelve-year-old daughter Tess. What David sees in Venice will leave him questioning everything he has ever believed. And when Tess is taken, he has no choice but to accept the things he saw in order to save her from the Underworld.
‘…I am an insistently rational sort, a spoilsport by nature when it comes to the fantastical. I’ve made an entire career out of doubt. Yet here I am. Seeing the unseeable.’
Extremely creepy and unnerving. The type that really manages to burrow it’s way under your skin. The type that gives you goosebumps. The type that leaves you gasping at it’s intensity. The story line was riveting and I found myself flipping through pages rapidly. I’m not typically a fan of scary stories but this one was incredibly well done (I just made sure I kept to reading this while the sun was still up. But even with the sun there were moments where I feared my eyeballs were about to fall out of my head).
Just like that.
So why only 3 stars? Despite the fact that this book had me completely captivated, I felt the ending was an absolute disaster… to put it lightly. There were so many questions generated throughout the book that it was an exciting race to get to the end to get some answers. But it felt like the ending was entirely way too rushed to the point of it being utterly unintelligible. There were so many loose ends that the author may have possibly intended in order for the reader to interpret individually but that didn’t work for me at all. I even thought for a minute that this was a first in a series because of the abundant amount of unanswered questions but to the best of my knowledge, this is a stand alone. A completely enjoyable book with a less than satisfying ending.
Sixteen-year-old Evangeline "Evie" Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they're still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.
But she can't do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can't totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?
Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it's not always clear who is on which side.
The day of Evie’s birthday, the Flash happens, and the world is transformed. Nothing green remains after fires lit up the earth and incinerated everything. Very few humans survived the Flash and the ones who did were transformed as well. Some transformed into cannibals doing anything they could to survive, some turned into Bagmen who drank the blood of humans if it was the only source of liquid they could find. But Evie knew this was coming because she had been having visions of the sky in flames and the earth incinerated for months. Could she have done something to stop this?
Okay for starters: The love interest, Jackson? He goes down in history as being a member of the top ten worst love interests. He was not charming in the least and there was no obvious reasoning behind Evie’s attraction to him besides him being attractive. He was the biggest jerk, he was a pig, he drank ALL THE TIME, and was constantly trying to get in Evie’s pants. Some might argue with me that his protectiveness of Evie was sweet and he only did that because he cared for her. Yeah. Well. There’s a thin line between protectiveness and possessiveness. But seriously? He was a drunken loser and I disliked him A LOT, especially when he said such romantic things like:
“Hell, Evie, you’re probably the last girl on earth for me. Would it kill you to put out?”
Ugh. Dude? She’s sixteen. And you’re officially a douchebag. There’s more but it pretty much reveals all about their ‘relationship’ so view at your own risk. (view spoiler) Evie, spoiled rich girl, wasn’t the strongest character either. When I found out what member of the Tarot she embodied I was a little put-off that she wasn’t made of tougher stuff and was quite the pushover. Admittedly, she does end up becoming what I had originally envisioned her being but it happened in the blink of an eye and there was no real build to get to that point.
Moving on. Next issue I had was the world-building. Or in this case, the lack of it. The following lines pretty much sum up the explanation we received for why the skies lit on fire and everything green ceased to exist: “The Flash marked the beginning? What caused the Flash, Matthew?” “Sun.”
And that’s all you get so don’t expect anything more.
At first I was skeptical at the interpretation of the Tarot cards as people but after doing some additional research I must admit that Kresley Cole did stay quite true to form. I had a few problems though…View Spoiler »Like, the Hermit being a psychopath who lures girls into his cabins and then chains them to a wall and tortures them?? Um. He’s a HERMIT. Meaning the dude’s looking for peace and solitude and won’t be luring girls to his cabin to chain them to his walls so he can torture them. No. « Hide Spoiler I understand that this is fiction and that embellishment is pretty much standard, but in taking something like The Major Arcana and embellishing it to the point of it being unrecognizable just seemed wrong to me.
And now for my biggest issue. I had initially given this 2 stars because I was impressed with its originality. I thought the characters were horribly written and incredibly un-likeable but I loved the potential the summary held. Except that this theory has already been floating around in the world, for several decades: ‘Carl Jung was the first psychoanalyst to attach importance to tarot symbolism. He may have regarded the tarot cards as representing archetypes: fundamental types of persons or situations embedded in the collective unconscious of all human beings.’
Which pretty much sums up the whole gist of this book. Now that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with using other ideas and embellishing off of them, but the originality was the one saving grace for me because everything else (characters, world building, etc) was horrible so that was going to be the only enjoyable aspect for me.
And to top it off, there’s a line at the end of the book: “Only one can live.”
Um, did I get a glitch on my Kindle and open up The Hunger Games? Nope. Still the same book.
So basically this book is actually a mix of Carl Jung’s interpretation of tarot symbolism which was established in like the 1950’s and the whole point The Hunger Games is based upon. As much potential as this had, this inevitably was a big fail because of a lack of execution and this is one series I definitely won’t be continuing.
Begun in 1959 by a twenty-two-year-old Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent alcoholic lust in the Caribbean boomtown that was San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the late 1950s. The narrator, freelance journalist Paul Kemp, irresistibly drawn to a sexy, mysterious woman, is soon thrust into a world where corruption and get-rich-quick schemes rule and anything (including murder) is permissible. Exuberant and mad, youthful and energetic, this dazzling comedic romp provides a fictional excursion as riveting and outrageous as Thompson's Fear and Loathing books.
‘Here I was, living in a luxury hotel, ,racing around a half-Latin city in a toy car that looked like a cockroach and sounded like a jet fighter, sneaking down alleys and humping on the beach, scavenging for food in shark-infested waters, hounded by mobs yelling in a foreign tongue – and the whole thing was taking place in quaint old Spanish Puerto Rico…’
I would guess that in the time that lapsed in this story, a couple tons of rum was consumed. I suppose that explains the title. But serious, these people had to be staggering around drunk all the time. It’s amazing they actually got anything done. Oh wait. That’s right. They didn’t. But considering this story is set in the late 1950’s I suppose that would explain their behavior as well.
“We’re all going to the same damn places, doing the same damn things people have been doing for fifty years, and we keep waiting for something to happen. You know – I’m a rebel, I took off – now where’s my reward?” “You fool,” I said.” There is no reward and there never was.”
Gritty and raw with a tinge of desperation. Paul Kemp in addition to everyone else he’s become acquainted with since his arrival on the island of Puerto Rico have only ended up there in hopes of escaping to something better. After quickly realizing that Puerto Rico (at the time) is far from their original vision of paradise, the spiteful and bitter attitudes begin making an appearance. It doesn’t take Kemp long to become just as bitter after the realization that a person can work so hard to have a better life, have more money, and to accomplish your dreams and never actually get anything done except wasting time and getting older.
“We keep getting drunk and these terrible things keep happening and each one is worse than the last… Hell, it’s no fun anymore – our luck’s all running out at the same time.”
The Rum Diary is simply that, a diary. There isn’t even that much of a plot, really. It’s almost like a pilot episode, a small glimpse of what’s to come but unfortunately there isn’t any full episode to look forward to. Despite that, I find myself extremely fascinated and I now have an incredibly strong desire to read anything I can get my hands on of Hunter S. Thompson’s. The Rum Diary is his second novel which he wrote at the age of 22 is semi-autobiographical because Hunter himself flew down to Puerto Rico as a journalist to write for a newspaper. Despite writing The Rum Diary in the early 1960’s, it was never actually published until 1998 because no one was interested and he was constantly rejected. Fortunately, he revisited the idea of publishing it several decades later and he finally succeeding in releasing it to the world.