Review: A Pius Man by Declan Finn

A Pius Man has gotten a bit of an update and has been re-released by Silver Empire Press this month. It’s available in print and ebook on Amazon.com.

I thought the book was an great story back when I first reviewed it. It is amazing how some minor edits turned this great story into a “Wow! I’ve got to read this again” story. In fact, when I was checking back at scenes in the book while working on this review, I found myself getting lost in the pages again.

Re-reading books for fun is not something I normally do, because once I’ve read a book, I move on to the next one. I can’t help it with this one. I’m looking forward to re-reading A Pius Legacy.

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A murder at the Vatican sets in motion the wildest story you’ll ever read.

Dr. David Garrity uncovers a secret about Pope Pius XII’s actions during WWII, which gets him killed. An odd alliance forms between the head of Vatican security, an ex-stuntman, an American Secret Service agent, a member of Mossad, a spy and Pope Pius XIII, in order to find out who murdered him and why.

Set in Vatican City, the story is a mix of nonstop action and fascinating political intrigue that not only keeps you glued to the book, but it also corrects some of the falsehoods that have persisted about Pope Pius XII since his reign as pope.

Unlike Dan Brown’s novels which set off my BS meter on the facts, A Pius Man appears well researched. With Declan’s background, I’m not at all surprised that it’s historically accurate. The best part, though, is that the history doesn’t read like a text book, it is worked in between the gun fire, which adds to the drama and depth.

It’s got the fast paced action that the #PulpRev readers can appreciate as well as the battle of good/evil that the #Superversive crowd will love. It’s not just about action for action, it’s about action to defend the Pope, the Church and right the wrongs of history. And I might add, their is a Deus Volt vibe going on as well.

As far as the characterization, Declan does an excellent job of giving the large cast of characters distinct personalities and roles in the story. While most of the characters are a bit over the top, totally understandable for this genre, they are interesting. If these characters were real people, I think it’d be fun to hang out with Sean A.P. Ryan, even though I’d need to wear a kevlar vest because he is always getting shot at. I’d also be all over getting to hang out with Pope Pius XIII. You just can’t help love that character.

And the one story line that I’m partial to is the budding romance between Scott Murphy, a nondescript Mossad agent, and the beautiful spy, Manana Shushurin. They are the light spot in an otherwise heavy book. The two are so cute together.

Honestly, one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. I would put it on part with Michael Crichton’s State of Fear.

 

Review: Ordinance 93

As I tell everyone I know, I can read practically any political message, as long as they tell me a good story. I’ll even take save the whales, as long as it’s as well done as Star Trek IVOrdinance 93 is much like that, only the message is different. I would normally say that it’s a pro-life message, but not really. Miss Fabry even said in her introduction that she wanted a message that the “pro-choice” and the pro-life crowd could get together on: What happens when you take away the choice?

At the end of the day, I think this is less about American politics and more about the People Republic of China, where the policies in this book already take place. There are some elements that look like they came out of Obamacare news stories, but those are minimal, and could have been written into the story as an afterthought for all I know.

All in all, Fabry has created an interesting dystopia, but also a good spy thriller. Much of the book is dedicated to ex-filtration from this nightmare come true, and a chase, and it’s well done spy craft that’s not exactly John Le Carre, but as close as I’m going to see for a while. We have four strong character studies among our main characters, Justin Winter, and his three companions, code named Spring Fall and Summer (like I said, a good spy thriller — at least it wasn’t Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Sailor), and there are elements of Clare Booth Luce to the way she handles the interpersonal interaction, well- written and realistic. Also, there are some great bits of witty narration that have some interesting turns of phrase that are almost on par with Raymond Chandler … though there are some times when she tries just a little too hard.

At the end of the day, this is less about the politics and more about the chase. Even if you’re easily offended over anything to do with abortion, I doubt this will manage to offend you.

Now, a little nitpicking. Considering the risks that our seasons quartet are taking, it would have been nice had the initial threat by the government been spelled out earlier in the book, instead of saved for the last 20%. There was almost too much implication at points about the dystopia. Sure, this works in a horror movie, like Jaws, but the shark should jump out and drag someone under every once in a while.

My major problem, however, is with the ending. First, I saw the twist coming, and I expected it. This may not be the case with everyone else. Second, the rest of the ending … sigh. It’s open-ended. Yes, there’s enough there for an interesting conclusion, you can build your own … and that’s exactly what Fabry lets you do. I can understand why she did this, and it’s telegraphed in the opening, she’s trying to allow anyone at either side of the abortion issue to create their own ending. J. Michael Straczynski said that good fiction is supposed to ask questions and cause bar fights. I think that if we got a bunch of people who read this book in a bar, talking about the ending, you can cause a good bar fight. So, mission accomplished.

While I can understand what she did, appreciate why she did it, doesn’t mean I like it. However, for a book that’s 99% solid and fun, it’s worth the price.

Let’s call it a 4.5. I recommend it.

Declan Finn is a Dragon Award nominated author, for Honor at Stake, the first of his “Catholic Vampire romance novels“. He can usually be found on his personal website.

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

**Cross posted from Marina’s Musings**

I have to admit, after the third movie in the series I decided I was done. The plot was overly complicated, the good guys kept double crossing each other, and the ending… Let’s just say a movie of that caliber did not earn such and ending and leave it at that (and no, the after-credits were not enough to provide satisfaction for what was at the time meant to be the end of the trilogy.)

I skipped the fourth. More than that, I forgot it existed and had to look up why this latest installment was billed as Number Five. When the new trailer came out, my first thought was, “Oh no, they’re at it AGAIN? Meh.” Still, it was a long weekend and I decided to kill a few hours by watching it on the cheap in a smaller local theater.

My husband, who saw Dead Men a few days before me, said it was actually better than the original. I’m not sure about that because the original was, well, the original. The characters, the world, the visuals–it was all new and so by default more entertaining. But this one comes close and does better than the original on a couple of fronts. Also, and this is a biggie,  we’re not talking about going back to the well. This movie continues the story where #3 left off. (I hear Penelope Cruz didn’t want to come back. They didn’t make the character die of leukemia a la  Sarah Connor, but the script behaves as though #4 never happened, as far as I can tell.)

In the first scene, we meet young Henry, Will Turner’s son, who promises to break the curse that requires his father to be forever sailing The Flying Dutchman. Fast forward nine years, and grown up Henry is getting in trouble at sea over having too much knowledge of the legends no one believes until… well, I won’t spoil that one. In the meantime, Carina, the scientist obsessed with the stars she believes will lead her to her father is about to hang for witchcraft. As for Jack Sparrow, let’s just say the shameless ripoff of one of the Fast and Furious movies works very well as his re-introduction scene. The three main characters are thrown together, sometimes literally, until they agree to work with each other to obtain this particular movie’s McGuffin.

It is rare to see the fifth entry into any franchise that succeeds both at taking us back and introducing new characters. Henry and Carina are immediately likable as driven, passionate individuals who make a lively, forever bantering couple. Jack Sparrow is entertaining as ever as a down-and-out captain without a ship, far removed from his former glory. (There is a marvelous flashback scene, thanks to the wonders of CGI, that made me wish for a prequel. I wanted to spend the time with THAT Jack Sparrow, one less interesting and flamboyant, but more admirable. If we do see a prequel, I’ll know I’m not alone.) Barbossa is seen in a new light, and Salazar, the current villain, is sufficiently murderous yet has understandable motivations. The plot is clear of unnecessary complications, and the action has near perfect balance of CGI and live action. Except for a couple of scenes that look like a setup for a new Disney attraction (you’ll know of what I speak when you see them) the movie does not have the look and feel of a video game. The camera work is solid, and there is no confusion, in spite of many scenes taking place in the dark, as to who is doing what where.

And then there are all the things that are not in the movie.

No Strong Female Character. I know, it’s shocking to have a woman character who is physically capable, strong-willed, and a scientist to boot to not be the dreaded SFC. Writers of books and movie scripts alike seem to have forgotten that it’s possible, and yet here we have Carina as a great reminder. She is smart and educated without knowing everything or being right every time. She is brave and athletic, yet sometimes needs saving from perils she can’t handle on her own. She is driven and stubborn without being hostile, and while she doesn’t “need” a man, she clearly enjoys being courted even as she refuses to admit it.

No anachronistic nods to modern Hollywood conventions. The romance is sweet, in tune with the rules of the movie’s world. Carina blushes at the notion that she’s attracted to Henry. Henry is happy at seeing Carina’s ankles. Jack Sparrow, being more worldly, makes fun of the innocent lovers, but it’s good natured fun, and whatever else Sparrow is meant to be, role model isn’t it. There is physical contact, sure, but not the semi-obligatory casual hookup that we’d come to expect and/or fear from most Hollywood productions, whether or not said hookups make sense in the context of the story. Also, Carina’s actions are consistent with the way a woman would act in the male-dominated world. When a shop owner tells her to leave and not touch his instruments because women are not allowed inside his shop, she reacts not with righteous indignation or physical assault, but with an offer to fix his maps and to pay him extra for the item she desires. It was a small scene, but I appreciated the care that went into crafting it to feel as true as possible right before the movie veers back into the over-the top action mode.

No on-the-nose references to politics. None. No purposeful controversies during the movie’s promotion. No gratuitous jabs at Evil Politician of the Day. No inane quotes that end up marring the telephone poles for decades to come *cough* Star Wars Prequels *cough*. Not even a Very Special Screening for Group X (that one is not the movie’s fault, but still highly annoying). All you get is a 2hrs + break from the world events, and it’s engaging enough to keep you from checking your social media feed on the phone for the duration. There was a time most if not all blockbusters would provide this oasis of entertainment to the viewers. Now, sadly, it’s so rare that it merits praise, and so praise it gets. I recommend it wholeheartedly. See it in the theater. Tell your friends. Let’s make it an amazing success so Hollywood gives us more of what we want: good old-fashioned entertainment.

 

17 Again Pt 5: Liang and the Domestic Female’s Journey

I’ve noticed there has been a lot of talk on the blog about female characters, especially about the SFC. It’s just timely that this came up while I was writing these articles, because I was wanting to speak on this in regards to Liang.

See, some people push the unrealistic SFC, girl power stories, and ladies that “don’t need no man”; but I rarely find that way of doing them very appealing. In those stories, the girl either has no interest in domestic things or men, or worse, they totally stomp down on them. Because after all, womyn are SO much better than those pig-like men! But what about something I can relate to? Like being strong AND having a man?

17 Again was that story. The character is like most other girls, she wants a good life, a good home…. And a family. But she is held back, by herself as much as by Mao. Wanting to be a house wife is not a bad thing. Indeed, it is a very good and noble thing to strive for. Running a household and raising children is certainly not without its challenges. But I can agree with feminists and the like on one point, you shouldn’t be a mindless house wife with absolutely no life outside of your husband. Even the quiet house wife should have hobbies, something she enjoys or is passionate about. However, this is the rut we find Liang stuck in at the beginning of her journey.

The strong domestic woman is a very important force. I have more I’d like to say on her, but I shall save that for another post. For now, it is enough to say that a good society wouldn’t be able to hold together without them. To me, Liang’s Journey is in her going from a passive, clingy girl, to an intelligent and passionate woman. You’ve heard of the hero’s journey? Well, this is the domestic woman’s journey!

So what makes Liang change from a lame not-house wife, to an awesome woman and possibly real house wife? I think the biggest answer is she rediscovered her passion, and then worked for it. In some ways, she took on the actions of, “I don’t need no man” kinda girl. She kicked Mao away (although, admittedly, that was Little Liang’s doing) She went off and had her own fun and adventures, and she created a career for herself. She had dreams and passions, she perused them, and made them a reality. However, unlike the “don’t need no man” girls, Liang still wanted her man. But before she could have him, she had to learn to live without him. She had to learn to be strong in herself. Only then, could she have the relationship she always wanted.

See, good men don’t want a child for their wife. Some people make marriage out to be a man making all the decisions and dominating, while the woman stays quiet and goes along with whatever he says. That is askewed idea of marriage. Only bad men with control issues take advantage of their wives like that, and it is women without confidence in themselves, who have too many insecurities, that let them. But think about it. How much of a tiresome burden would it be to have a spouse that you have to do everything for? Who can’t make their own decision and opinions? Who has no ambition? Who sits around cleaning and making food while you do everything else?

That’s a maid, not a wife.

Men, good men, want someone to be on the same level as them. They want a partner, not a dependent. Because life is hard, a man wants a woman who can support him as much as he supports her. Now keep in mind, men and women are different, so the way they support and help each other will be different. But the point is, honest men don’t want a pretty-faced, mindless maid for a wife. They want a strong woman who inspires them, whose beauty shines from the inside out. One who will make a house into a home to come back to, and who will be there to catch them when  life is heavy. Someone who they can dream with, and make a life with.

Liang is not that woman when we first meet her. She got one part of it right; she’s there to take care of Mao and make a nice home. But she missed that part about having that deeper level of confidence and support. And because of that, her actions fall short, and somewhat superficial. The nice breakfast cannot be everything, there is something deeper that she is missing. And because of that, Mao has never bothered to marry her.

It’s not until Liang finds confidence in herself that Mao really starts to see her again. Gone is the drifting, shallow Liang. Now she is strong and confident in herself, she glows with the joy of her younger years. She has made herself a woman worthy of great attention and love. And because of this, Mao sees his short comings. He realizes that if he wants to keep this new Liang, he must change and become worthy of her. Because Liang has made herself great, she inspires Mao to make himself great as well.

At the beginning,  both of them are stuck in a rut, and have all but lost their love for each other. Love is  tricky, it’s something you must work to maintain. But by the end, once they both have grown, they are able to come back, stronger, and fight for each other and their love. Very pro-marriage. And I know, they weren’t technically married, but they seemed very much like a divorcing couple. But instead of giving up, they grow and learn, and eventually come back together. This is sooooo refreshing to see. I wish more movies and stories would give that same message of hope. That you shouldn’t give up on marriage just because it became boring or hard. That love is worth fighting for.

Because of that, 17 Again has a very superversive feel. But that is not the only reason. Liang is the focus of the story, the change in her relationship is provoked by her personal journey. And so it was her journey that left me with the greatest feeling of hope and inspiration at the end of the movie.

As someone who is still young and full of passion and dreams, but who also has a desperate desire to never let go of my inner child, I really connected with this movie. I wish to keep that joy and wonder at the world that a child has. I want to have passion to create and chase my dreams. I’m getting a taste of adulating and what real world life is like. With jobs, responsibilities, money, and bills, I’m discovering different kinds of stress and troubles that sometimes weigh heavy on me, and I don’t like it very much. But as long as I have my imagination to run wild, and my stories to get lost in, I can keep my younger self alive, and I’ll be alright. But….. If I ever lost that, if I ever stopped writing and imagining…. Well, the thought is truly terrifying.

And so the story of Liang finding her younger self, reconnecting with her passion, making herself better, and working for her dream, is very moving. She has adventures, learns from her mistakes, makes her dreams a reality, and gets her man back – even better than he was before! She became a stronger woman, but not a womyn. It’s hilarious, it’s refreshing, it’s inspiring, and it is superversive. Plus, there was chocolate! And in case you couldn’t tell from the FIVE articles and 5000 words I’ll spent on this thing, I really really loved it!

Hope you enjoyed my absurdly in-depth look into this movie! Time to go eat some chocolate.

17 Again Pt 3: The Meeting of Two Minds

Everything is going well, but it’s not long before a Liang hits a bump. Old Liang overhears Mao saying that he will probably never get back together with her. Deeply hurt, Liang turns to crying and eating junk food. All the while, she is watching the video of herself and Mao on that fateful day when he asked her to be his girlfriend. In her sad frenzy, she accidentally eats one of the chocolates.

Little Liang wakes up, very confused, in a pile of junk food. But then she sees the video that is playing, and she finds out about the younger Mao. She learns about how he said he loved her and that he gave his word that if he ever broke his promise of loving her, he’d run through the streets naked. Little Liang also realizes the inner turmoil her older self has been suffering because of him. For the first time, Little Liang is sober and serious. She realizes that even though she’s seen Mao as a jerk and boring, her older self still deeply misses him and loves him.

Little Liang does something to stand up for her older self, by leaving Mao the CD of that video and a note scolding him about the promise he broke. This makes Mao begin to question, and to remember why he and Liang got together in the first place. He is also reminded of his younger self. Because before this point, Mao has only been interested in business deals. He had little faith in Liang and stayed very skeptical of her abilities. He had only been going along with everything because that’s how Mr. Geo wanted it. But now… What should he think now? My guess about Mao is that it has been far too long since he’s seen Liang as anything more than a docile, house not-wife. He doesn’t even bother remembering what she used to be like. But now that’s starting to change, and so is he.

Liang has been struggling with Mao’s lack of faith in her, but that’s not her only trouble. Over the news, they find out the factory that makes the magic chocolate was hit by a meteor and destroyed. Now, I will admit that it is a bit odd, and a bit overly dramatic, with the whole explosion-by-space-rock. I’ve heard people ask, “Why the heck is that there?” For me, I thought it was hilarious. And the purpose is to give a limited time that Little Liang can be around. That adds just a little bit more conflict, and it pushes Older Liang to take action and get Little Liang to teach her how to paint again. But aside from that, things are going great. Her art has taken off, and she is enjoying herself. Life is going well.

And then she lives the dream of attending the opening of her new art gallery.

In the car with Ning on the way to the event, she decides to eat a chocolate and let Little Liang enjoy this moment. Because, as Old Liang tells her best friend, “She made me who I am.”

Little Liang is perfect for the clapping crowds and photographers. She bounces and glides and waves to everyone. Filled with life, youth, and energy, she gives a charming little speech. However, while on stage, she turns back into her 28 year old self and can do nothing but give the audience a blank stare. Ning saves her by clapping like that was the end of the speech, and everyone joins in.

At that moment, Mr. Geo announces he has a surprise. Liang will do a live painting for them! Everyone cheers as a blank canvas is brought out for her, but you can see Old Liang is seriously nervous. Apparently, no one told her about this. Liang excuses herself for a moment and runs off the stage.

In the bathroom, she is holding up the piece of chocolate. It would be the easiest thing to do, simply hide behind Little Liang’s skill and confidence. However, she hesitates, then slowly sets down the chocolate, deciding she will do this one on her own. Old Liang returns with her head held high. She pauses to hand the chocolate back to her friend, who watches in shock as she goes up to paint as her older self.

This is a very important moment. Up until now, Old Liang has been relying on Little Liang to paint for people, but now she is taking it into her own hands. When Little Liang stands up to Mao it is like she is becoming a little more like her older self: for she is thinking of others and trying to look out for them. Painting in front of everyone is Old Liang’s way of becoming a little more like her younger self: finding her passion and confidence once again.

With only ten chocolates left, but her art doing well and some of her confidence restored, Older Liang gives little Liang the rest of her time to do whatever she likes. At last! Little Liang can go see Yan! She’s been so caught up working, that she’s barely been able to see him, and now she’s no doubt envisioning a great reunion between them! But if only she had the vision to see that Yan had grown weary of waiting for her and moved on. She would have saved herself the heartbreak of see her beloved Yan with some other girl – cozying up with him on his motorcycle.

This time, it’s Older Liang who wakes up to find herself surrounded by junk food. Getting up, she discovers a painting Little Liang had done in her misery. The girl in the painting is crying and gray. Perhaps she even looks a lot like the Liang from the beginning of the moving, which would be an interesting parallel. Now it’s time for Older Liang to stand up for her younger self.

She goes and disrupts the biker’s party to talk to Yan. She asks him why, after she spent all her time drawing for others just so that she could see him, why he would go find someone else? He replied, “If you can’t give me what I want, why can’t I find someone else?” Liang splashes his drink in his face and storms off.

Finding her best friend, Older Liang gives Ning her phone, and tells her to show Little Liang the video of Yan rejecting her. “Tell her not to waste any more time on him,” Older Liang says, then she eats a chocolate.

Little Liang doesn’t listen (big surprise there) and runs after Yan. Banging on his door, she storms into his place. She says that he’s wrong, she can give him what he wants, and begins to try to kiss him and take her clothes off. She assumes when he said, “You can’t give me what I want” he meant physically. But we find out he meant that in a totally different sense. He pushes her away, and his new girlfriend comes up and slaps Liang, saying, “I can follow him wherever he goes, can you?” But the thing is, if Liang was to say yes, she’d be making the same mistake she made with Mao; giving up all her plans and dreams to follow his. So in the end, it’s good she doesn’t end up with Yan.

But Little Liang does not see it this way. She goes crazy, lashing out in an immature way by fighting with Ning to find the rest of the chocolates. Then when she does, she eats them all at once and chases after Yan. She is in love, heart broken, young, and crazy. As you might guess, this doesn’t end well. In other words, she passes out in the train station and falls into shock.

Then comes a dream sequence in which the two Liangs confront each other. Older Liang is trying to call Little Liang; trying to get her to come back. But just as Little Liang is starting to calm down and come, they encounter a wall, and Little Liang starts slipping away again. Out of desperation Older Liang breaks the wall and catches Little Liang. They share a moment together in this dream world, while out in the real world (on a hospital bed)her heart has flat lined.

This is the moment where the two Liangs finally come together. All throughout the movie, it’s been the story of the younger and older Liang finding each other and working together. At the beginning, they are so far apart they aren’t even aware of each other. Then they tolerate each other. Then they help each other. And now, at least, they make peace with each other. As Little Liang slips away for the last time, Big Liang promises to never forget her and to always hold her near.

In a hospital bed, Liang wakes up. No longer Little Liang or Big Liang, but just simply, Liang.

At first I thought this was the end of the movie. I was a little disappointed and almost clicked away…. but I’m so glad I didn’t! I would have missed something very important! What I had mistaken as the credits rolling in, was actually a montage of all of Liang’s art and accomplishments over the next few years. And then the loose ends are tied up, and we see what became of the two men in the story.

17 Again Pt 2: When a Boulder Meets a Lake

 It takes some time for the Little Liang and Old Liang to become aware of each other. In the meantime, every time Little Liang is let loose, she wreaks havoc and chaos wherever she goes. And on top of that, she meets a guy, and starts falling for him.

This happens when Little Liang is taking the train somewhere. A cute guy catches her eye, so she takes out her sketchbook and starts drawing. Just as she finishes the picture, the train stops… and the spell cast by the chocolate ends as well. Old Liang drops the notebook and walks out, totally unaware of what she has just done or of the boy who’d seen her doing it.

Later, we see Mao is talking to the all-important Mr. Geo. The businessman is not impressed with the designs for his new perfumes that Mao’s company is providing. He explains they need something fresh! And exciting! Like….. He pulls up a photo that has been going viral online. It’s a photo of the picture Liang drew and left on the train, along with a picture of Liang herself. Yan, the guy from the train, is apparently trying to find the girl who drew the picture. Mao is dumbfounded as he immediately recognizes Liang. When Mr. Geo finds out Mao knows the girl, he says he’ll invest in Mao’s company….. IF Mao will have Liang do the designs. Mao tires to argue that Liang is not right for this. But Mr. Geo just waves him off, and leaves Mao with no other choice.

And thus we enter the real meat of the story: Old Liang must convince Little Liang to draw the pictures. Old Liang has lost all her skill and passion, but she wants to win Mao back, (because when Little Liang was around, she kicked him out of the house and told him to push off). But Little Liang is not at all interested in painting for her older self. All she wants to do is go hangout with Yan and have fun.

It is very interesting, and amusing, watching the two Liangs learn how to communicate with each other and make deals. Slowly, the young and the old Liang become closer, working better together, and getting along. Many things happen. Little Liang discovers that not everything is fun and games, and that life and relationships can be hard and confusing. Meanwhile the Old Liang, while she still has many bumps and trials, is remembering there is still color and wonder in the world

It’s an interesting dilemma set up here. At this point I was totally committed. The two Liangs couldn’t be more different; it was like watching a boulder crashing into a lake and making waves without end. So how are they going to resolve this? I just had to keep watching to see.

17 Again Pt 1: Looking For Love, Finding Chocolate

 I have fallen in love with this story. I want to tell you all about it, so prepare yourselves.

It all started one night on YouTube. I’m not sure why, but in the suggestions next to the video I was watching, was a movie called 17 again. I’ve seen a movie by this title starring Zac Efron, but the thumbnail of this video was of a Chinese woman….. Definitely not the same movie.

So, it was already close to midnight and the question is: do I click on it and risk some loss of sleep?

The answer: Yes! (Curiosity is a cruel master.)

I’m not sure if I was expecting to watch the entire hour-and-a-half movie, but I soon found I had no choice. And boy, was I glad I did! Here are just a few reasons why:

It was funny.

It was entertaining.

You never knew what would happen next.

There was chocolate!!

It was strong girl story, without discounting the men.

It left me inspired.

It was superverise.

It fascinates me, and so I simply must talk about it! But I like to talk a lot, and there’s a lot I have to say. So my review/analysis of this story will be broken up into parts. But I suggest you watch the movie first if you can. There will be many spoilers ahead.

It starts off following the morning of this prim and proper house not-wife, Liang. Because even though she has been with her guy for 10 years and seems to act just like a housewife, they are not married. We find out today is the day she expects her boyfriend to finally propose to her. However, to the boyfriend Mao, today is just another day. He has work to get to, things on his mind, and he doesn’t pick up on the dreamy gaze of his girlfriend.

The breaking point comes when Liang plucks something out from his suit pocket, a case with a diamond in it, and holds it up in triumph – much to Mao’s confusion and annoyance. With a sigh, and a bit of hesitation, Mao explains, “Mr. Geo’s wife likes diamonds. So, when I was in Dubai last week, I brought one back for her.  As you know, it’s a critical stage for my company. Mr Geo is important.”

In that moment, we see Liang flash back to the moment when Mao asked her to be his girlfriend. He is bright and energetic, promising that he loved her, and in 10 years they’d be married and have lots of kids. Back in the present, Liang’s face turns from bright and flirtatious, to lost, to completely crushed; until she is reduced to nibbling on a piece of bread and staring at the table, as her not-husband leaves for work.

From there, I had to keep watching. What would become of Liang? Would she get her guy to propose? Or would she leave him? Would it all be for naught, and 10 years would have been lost on being the perfect woman and trying to get this guy to commit to her?

She does what any heartbroken girl would do in this situation. She sits on the couch eating junk food, watching TV, and crying. And in this dark and lonely place, a TV infomercial comes on, advertising this amazing chocolate that makes you feel young and revived again. Being the heartbroken, crying girl that she is, Liang orders the chocolate. Then promptly forgets about it.

Meanwhile, the plot moves on as Liang and her best friend, Ning, make a plan to get Mao to propose at Ning’s wedding reception. This gives Liang some hope, and she agrees to it. Unfortunately, the plan ends in embarrassment instead of a ring. Mao is hesitant when pulled up on stage. Liang tells Mao he is her one and only prince, but Mao is freaked out in front of the crowd of people chanting “Propose! Propose! Propose!” He says instead, “This is Ning and her husband’s special day, we should not intrude.” Again, we see Liang’s face crumpled by rejection. Mao then receives a business call and takes that as his cue to run away.

Liang can’t believe what is happening and chases after Mao. During the intense little car chase that follows, Liang finally gets Mao to pick up his phone. She tries to apologize, but she is cut off by Mao informing her that he thinks they should break up. Right at that moment, Liang is stopped by a traffic light, and when her cars slams to a stop, so does her whole world. Liang stares in shock as she watches Mao’s car drive away. And, at last, she completely breaks.

It starts raining, of course, as Liang sobs uncontrollably. And after noticing the chocolate on the seat next to her, she picks one up and eats it. That’s when things start going crazy.

Now, I forgot the mention one small, but very important detail. Where did the chocolate come from? Well, if you rewind just a little bit, to right as Liang arrives at the wedding, there is a very short scene in which a man steps in front of her car. He then delivers the box of chocolates she ordered from the commercial. Liang sets them on the seat next to her, and promptly forgets about them.

But in that moment in the car, because of those chocolates, something surreal happens. Liang is no longer the heartbroken, stale, and lost 28 year old. She is suddenly the wild, mischievous, and passionate 17 year old Liang.

And thus adventures and chaos ensues!

This opening is pretty well done. It sets up a character, makes you like her, then crushes all her dreams and throws her into an adventure. It starts out good, and only gets better. I can’t wait to tell you more about it!