Harry Situation Reviews: Venom: Let There Be Carnage
“When I get out, and I will, there’s gonna be carnage.”
-Cletus Kasady, Venom
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the new Marvel/Sony sequel featuring everyone’s favorite brain-eating alien symbiote, starring Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, and Naomi Harris, and was this time directed by Andy Serkis.
Tom Hardy reprises his role as Eddie Brock and Venom as they go up against their greatest foe, the serial killer Cletus Kasady (played by Woody Harrelson), who has now bonded with a symbiote to become Carnage. That’s really all the info you need about this movie, honestly. It’s Venom versus Carnage. It’s Carnage finally on the big screen. I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was a kid. Aside from Venom and Doctor Octopus, Carnage is next favorite villain on the Spider-Man rogues totem pole.
While I enjoyed the first film as a fun-dumb superhero movie there were areas that could use some improvement in order to be a good superhero movie. Enter Let There Be Carnage!
First positive obviously goes to Tom Hardy for his portray as Eddie Brock and Venom. It does a great job portraying both of these characters that you forget that it’s all one guy. It makes you feel like there are actually two individuals onscreen talking and bickering. Their relationship in this movie certainly has taken in The Odd Couple direction, which works in its favor. The two characters had great chemistry and some funny lines that got me laughing a lot. Personally I still prefer Venom to be a villain but he’s winning me over as an anti-hero.
In my review of the first Venom I said that the villain in that movie was generic and forgettable as fuck. Not Cletus Kasady. Aside from Eddie and Venom, Cletus Kasady/Carnage, along with Woody Harrelson’s amazing portrayal, was a show stealer. He was great. He was everything from the comics. In the comics he was a sadistic serial killer who becomes a dangerous sociopathic alien menace, and all of that is brought to the big screen in beautiful red and black. The guy is murdering people and trashing cop cars. It’s all you can ask for from Carnage, except for one little thing that I will bring up when I talk about the negatives.
This whole film has been building up to the third act where Venom and Carnage finally duke it out and it was awesome. Like I said it’s something I’ve been waiting to see for a long time. Now if they can get Spider-Man involved it will be a dream come true.
Now for the major issue of this movie: it really should have been R-rated. Seriously, I know I’ve made a few complaints in past reviews of comic book movies having an unnecessary R-rating like Birds of Prey and a couple DC animated movies but the thing is I felt those stories really didn’t need to be R-rated. However some certain comic book characters should be R-rated like Deadpool and The Suicide Squad. This movie definitely should have had an R-rating. The reason being if you’re gonna have Carnage be in this movie you have to go all out on the violence. He’s way more violent and destructive in the comics. Take my word for it. There’s a story where Carnage decapitates someone on an airplane and tosses the head down the aisle like it was a bowling ball. Plus these two characters eat people’s brains. Imagine a Venom movie where you see either Venom or Carnage just chomp some poor sucker’s head off and we see it in such graphic detail. Without the R-rating we’re not exactly seeing these two at what they’re really capable of.
Overall I didn’t have much expectations going into this movie. I just wanted another fun-dumb comic book movie. However I got something more. It was a great improvement over the last film and Andy Serkis did a damn good job in the director’s chair. So did I enjoy Let There Be Carnage? Yes, we did!
-Tom Hardy as Venom
-Woody Harrelson as Carnage
-Venom vs Carnage
-Should have been R-rated
Final Grade: B
So those are my thoughts on Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts on it? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews here on Prose!
Eddie Brock: “She didn’t want our help.”
Venom: “She didn’t know that she wanted our help. There’s a difference.”
#harrysituationreviews #film #opinion #Marvel #comics #superhero #antihero #action #alien #scifi
Harry Situation Reviews: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings of Power is a new Marvel martial arts superhero film, starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Fala Chen, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, and Benedict Wong.
Shang-Chi (played by Simu Liu) was living an ordinary life until his past comes back to haunt him. Before he was working as a valet but it turns out he actually has connections to the Ten Rings terrorist organization (the same group that kidnapped Tony Stark in the first Iron Man), led by his father, the Mandarin (played by Tony Leung).
I’m gonna be real: I know next to nothing about Shang-Chi. I’ve never read any of the comics. I wasn’t even aware that this was a thing until now. Because of my lack of knowledge I was all the more excited to see this movie. I mean I didn’t know anything about the Guardians of the Galaxy before I saw the first movie and I loved that movie. So did the same thing happen with Shang-Chi? You bet your ass it did.
First positive is our titular hero Shang-Chi. Simu Liu was just perfect casting. Usually Marvel & Disney picks the right people for the roles and this one’s no exception. It’s incredibly likeable. I think from the first few scenes we see him in I already liked him. And he’s a total badass.
The next positive is our villain, the Mandarin. Yeah, I know technically his character’s name is Xu Wenwu and his character doesn’t really associate with that name, but since he’s got the ten rings of power - and he’s nothing like Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin - I’m calling him the Mandarin. It’s actually a very compelling, sympathetic villain. This is the kind of villain we’ve been lacking in the MCU (aside from Loki, Thanos, Vulture, Mysterio, Hela, Killmonger, Ultron, Ego, and those are the only MCU villains I can think of). He’s menacing. He’s a great foil for our heroes. And you actually understand his position. You don’t necessarily agree with his actions but you understand them. Also, Tony Leung was just fantastic. Again, perfect casting.
A lot of the side characters like Awkwafina are great too. They have a ton of personality and just so likeable whenever they’re on screen. Hell, even Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery was actually tolerable in this movie. If I ever get the chance to review Iron Man 3 you’ll know why I hated what they did with the character of “the Mandarin” in that movie.
This film also has some of the best fight sequences I’ve seen in any superhero movie. A lot of it reminds me of stuff from old Jackie Chan movies or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Much of the fighting and stunt work are done by the actors themselves so it makes for a more realistic experience. Very little CGI is used in these action scenes and when CGI is used it blends perfectly.
I love all the fantasy elements woven into this movie too. We get to explore and witness so much Asian mythology from locations to creatures in this movie. It was a blast to see on screen.
Speaking of Asian culture, gotta give this movie some mad props on its representation on Asian culture. It is done with perfection and respect. And this is a company who was notorious in the past for stereotyping ethnic groups. Disney certainly has come a long way from its roots. While I don’t necessarily respect them as a global company hellbent on world domination, I can at least respect them for showing positive representation.
This was honestly one of the best films I’ve seen all year. It was great to see an origin story but done so with a new edge. After watching this movie, I definitely want to look up Shang-Chi and read more of his comics. If you’re a Marvel/superhero fan this one’s a must see for everyone.
-Fantastic action & fights
Final Grade: A+
So those are my thoughts on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts on it? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews as we approach my 350th review!
Jiang Nan: “You are a product of all who came before you, the legacy of your family. You are your mother. And whether you like it or not, you are also your father.”
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Harry Situation Reviews: Amphibia Season 2
Amphibia is back!
One of Disney’s best animated series to date returns with a second season. Anne and the Plantar family all make their way to Newtopia to learn more about the mysterious music box that transported Anne and her friends to this new world, while also looking for her friend Marcy (voiced by Haley Tju). Elsewhere, Sasha and Captain Grime make plans to conquer Newtopia in the name of the Toad Army while the king of Amphibia, King Andrias (voiced by David Keith), has plans of his own that are unfolding throughout the season. Secrets are revealed and adventure awaits.
Pretty much everything I said in my review of the first season can repeated here. The voice cast is still outstanding. The characters are all lovable and fun. And the animation is still top notch. I’m not sure what more I could say about it.
I suppose I could talk about some of the new elements introduced this season. For starters lets talk about the new locations. Season Two really does explore the world of Amphibia as Anne and the Plantars travel from the comforts of Wartwood to the glorious kingdom of Newtopia. I loved the fact that we got to explore more of the world of Amphibia. That was something we were severely lacking in the first season. Finally we leave the familiarity and oddity of Wartwood and truly see what is in Amphibia. We learn there are new towns, new locations, and explore the kingdom of Newtopia. Amphibia feels huge.
Let’s also touch upon a couple of new characters introduced in the series, Marcy and King Andrias. I’ve only heard Haley Tju from one other show, voicing Stella from The Loud House. But I think she’s definitely got a long career in voice acting coming. She was just great, and Marcy is such a likeable character. She’s smart, nerdy, kind, courageous, and compliments Anne. A far cry from Sasha (who is still a great character too). I also like King Andrias. Probably because he’s voiced by Keith David, Disney voicing veteran, having voiced Goliath from Gargoyles and Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog. He’s got a ton of charm while also harboring a secret agenda.
The writing team have truly out done themselves this season. There were a lot of funny jokes, some good easter eggs and references, but also a ton of heart and drama. I couldn’t believe how serious this series gets. Not gonna lie there was one episode that got me a little teary-eyed. If you’ve been watching this series you know what I’m talking about. But the best episode this whole season was the second season finale. Holy shit, what an epic ending. Obviously I won’t reveal what goes on but it is the best episode in regards to writing, directing, music, and animation.
The only negative I can think of is Sasha and Captain Grime. They weren’t bad by any means, hell far from it. And they had a couple segments focusing solely on them. I just wish we had more. Seriously, I want more episodes with these two characters. They’re both so nasty and delightful. We should have gotten more episodes with just the two of them.
Within less than a month away Amphibia will debut its third and final season. As much as that kinda bites I think having only three seasons is good. Avatar: The Last Airbender only lasted three seasons and it wrapped up a fantastic story. That’s all Amphibia really needs to do as well. Disney has made one of the best animated shows in recent years and I look forward to the upcoming final season. Sure it will be sad when it ends but as the old saying goes, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”.
-Amazing voice cast
-New and lovable characters
-Need more Sasha and Grime
Final Grade: A+
So those are my thoughts on season two of Amphibia. Have you seen it? What are your thoughts on it? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews here on Prose!
Sprig Plantar: “You know I always wondered: can you miss someone you’ve never actually knew?”
#harrysituationreviews #tv #opinion #animation #Disney #fantasy #adventure #mystery #AGrade
Harry Situation Reviews: Malignant
Well, now I know why James Wan didn't direct The Conjuring 3. He was too busy making a better horror movie.
Malignant is a new supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, one of my favorite film directors to date. The story centers around a woman (played by Annabelle Wallis) who keeps having visions of people getting murdered. Turns out those vision are coming true and are all connected to an imaginary friend she once had as a child named Gabriel. However Gabriel may be all too real and malevolent as it stalks her and kills anyone connected to her.
I think there are two things that drew me to this movie: James Wan and horror. There’s a reason why James Wan has become such a great director. He can tackle any genre and make it entertaining. He did Furious 7 and Aquaman, but really what he excels best at is in the horror genre with films such as Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring. So how did his new horror project turn out? Let’s talk about it.
First positive goes to actress Annabelle Wallis. She was really good in this movie. I felt her pain and her terror throughout this movie. She was one of the best parts of the movie. The other best part was this film's villain Gabriel. He was an effective horror villain. There's a big mystery on how him and Annabelle Wallis' character are connected but trust me it makes sense in the end.
I really dug into the story too. The mystery of Gabriel. Why Annabelle Wallis is seeing these grisely murders as if she was present. What her adopted family may or may not know about her past. The whole backstory behind Gabriel and Wallis. Everything about this story I was hooked from start to finish.
This movie also had some pretty effective scares too. I mean, it's a horror movie. It's gotta have some scares right? And there were a few that jumped out. Thankfully, no jumpscares.
But this film has one helluva great twist in the third act. There's a revelation about Gabriel that blew my mind. Hell, I was visible disturbed to find out what Gabriel really was. It shocked me hard. Honestly I wasn't expecting something like this but after reflecting on all of his victims it makes perfect sense. Honestly it's a twist that rivals that of the original Saw. In fact, the whole third act itself is a positive. What happens is something you need to see to believe. It turns into an utter bloodbath and I loved every minute of it.
The one downside I gotta mention is that is the police scenes. There are two detectives in this movie that we also follow, who are investigating the murders committed by Gabriel and are wondering how Annabelle Wallis is connected in all this. To me their scenes weren't as effective. Mainly how they try to force some humor into this pretty dark movie. It's fine if a dark film tries to have some lighthearted or humorous moments, but they just didn't work in this movie.
Overall Malignant is what The Conjuring 3 should have been. I know this review feels a lot shorter than others but honestly this is a movie that needs to be seen for yourselves. The big twist about Gabriel is a major spoiler and I certainly don't want to reveal too much about this movie. If you were disappointed by the third Conjuring film as I was this movie will make up for it.
-Some good scares
-One helluva twist & third act
-The detective scenes
Final Grade: B+
So those are my thoughts on Malignant. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts on it? What’s your favorite movie by James Wan? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews here on Prose!
Dr. Florence Weaver: "What do you want?"
Gabriel: "To show you what the cancer has become."
#harrysituationreviews #film #opinion #horror #supernatural #crime #murders #paranormal
Harry Situation Reviews: Candyman (2021)
Be(e) my victim.
Candyman (2021) is a new horror slasher film serving as the direct sequel to the original 1992 film of the same name. The film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, along with Tony Todd reprising his iconic role as the titular Candyman. It was also directed by Nia DaCosta with Jordan Peele acting as the film’s co-writer and producer.
Taking place decades after the first film, long has since passed after the last of Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood has been torn down. Along with it the legend of the infamous Candyman, a vengeful spirit of a hook-handed man that kills anyone that says his name five times in front of a mirror. In the present day, a visual artist named Anthony McCoy (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) has a chance encounter with an old-time resident of the projects, who tells him the macabre tales of the supernatural killer. Anthony then uses this as inspiration for his paintings, unknowingly bringing back the violent legend, as this takes a toll on his sanity, leaving him to question what is real.
The original 1992 film is a classic in the horror genre. Tony Todd was amazing as the titular Candyman and, in my opinion, it is one of the best adapted works of horror writer Clive Barker, whom you may recognize as the mastermind behind Hellraiser. I was extremely excited to see this movie. It’s like I’ve waited a whole year to see it. I wonder what sort of global event that could have caused me to wait so long. Any who, Candyman is finally here and it’s pretty good.
First positive goes to the acting. The acting in this movie is superb. Both Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris do an amazing job. These two have great chemistry together. Yahya was great as a man on the verge of madness as he dives deeper into the Candyman story and Teyonah was outstanding as his girlfriend who is witnessing his sanity and is in utter disbelief. Props to both of them.
The directing was also great. Nia DaCosta has filmed some great camera angles and locational shots of the Chicago area (or what looks like Chicago), and there’s a ton of emphasis and focusing on mirrors, which makes sense given the context of the movie. The point is she did a great job directing this movie. I hear she’s directing a sequel to Captain Marvel and I’m looking forward to it.
But what I really liked about this movie was the expansion on the mythos of Candyman. Candyman, himself, is more than just a vengeful spirit. He’s become of a symbol of racial injustice since the character’s backstory was that he was killed by a racist mob. And we learn that history repeats itself when another man was wrongfully convicted and killed by racists.
The film also led me to suspect that Candyman is actually a tulpa, a Tibetan spirit that manifests from consciusness, and with the revelation that there was more than one Candyman with similar backstories kinda supports this idea. Honestly, I buy it.
Also, gotta love the kills in this movie. For a slasher film you gotta get creative with your kills and this one delivers in spades.
But this led me to one of the big issues I had was, well, Candyman himself. There’s seems to be a lack of him in this movie, mainly Tony Todd. Because of the added Candyman mythos (minor spoiler) what we get isn’t Daniel Robitaille, but a different Candyman (sorta) in the likes of Sherman Fields (played by Michael Hargrove). Oh don’t worry, Tony Todd is in this movie and he does reprise as Candyman but not in a way you’d expect. Now don’t get me wrong, Hargrove does a good job as this variant of Candyman but he wasn’t Candyman. He was Candyposer. I didn’t come to see this movie to see Candyposer. I came to see Tony Todd be Candyman again, which I did... but still.
The other big issue I had was the lack of subtlety in this movie, which is a shame given who one of the writers is in fact Jordan Peele. What’s the message? Black people are (most of the time) victims of an unjust system, which, to be fair, is true. But the film beats you over the head with it so much. Jordan Peele has dealt with a similar message back with Get Out but that was done very subtle. Any subtlety in this film is absent. Then again, maybe since there is injustice in the world (especially the United States) that it needs this kind of message beaten over our heads. Or maybe that’s not real message of this movie. I don’t know. I’m just a dumb white guy who doesn’t know shit.
Overall, Candyman is a solid sequel to the original. It’s definitely not as good as the original but it stands on its own, which is good enough for me. As far as I know it’s leagues better than the other two sequels that came out before this one. Give it a watch some time. It is a sweet for the sweet.
-Expansion on Candyman myth
-Lack of Candyman (and Tony Todd)
-Beaten over the brow message
Final Grade: B (he-he, get it)
So those are my thoughts on Candyman (2021). Have you seen it? What were your thoughts on it? Are you a fan of the original Candyman? What were your thoughts on that? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews here on Prose!
Candyman: “Tell everyone.”
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Harry Situation Reviews: The Suicide Squad
After taking a break I’m back with some good ole movie reviews. And what better film to review than The Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad is the newest DC superhero (technically supervillain) movie written and directed by James Gunn from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It also features the return of Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courntey, and Viola Davis as Harley Quinn, Rick Flagg, Captain Boomerang, and Amanda Waller from the first film, along with introducing Idris Elba, John Cena, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, and Sylvester Stallone into the mix as Bloodsport, Peacemaker, The Thinker, Polka-Dot Man, Ratcatcher, and King Shark respectively.
Amanda Waller has deployed the Suicide Squad (otherwise known as Task Force X) to yet another suicidal mission. This time it’s to destroy a research facility in a war-torn South American country that contains an alien lifeform capable of wiping out the human race (aka Starro the Conqueror if you’ve seen the trailers). And that's about it. Action, death, blood and gore, and a walking, talking shark are in this movie.
This movie was a huge improvement over the first film. Everything, just everything, was so much better.
I actually like all these new characters introduced in this movie. Most of them are unknown to me with the exception of King Shark, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Rick Flagg, Amanda Waller, and Polka-Dot Man. It seems like they’re scrapping from the bottom of the barrell for DC characters but it works in this movie’s favor. Unlike the first film they actually took time and developed these characters, making the audience sympathize for them. I know, it’s crazy to think that anyone would have sympathy for a shark person that literally eats people but the movie pulled it off.
Speaking of characters they're all great. I really liked Bloodsport in this movie. Originally Idris Elba was hired on to be recasted as Deadshot but James Gunn and Warner Bros. decided against it in case they bring back Will Smith for any project. Smart move on their part. I was worried that Bloodsport was going to be a knock-off of Deadshot but he proved himself to be his own character. I also liked Peacemaker and John Cena's performance. The guy can really act if given a good script. I like the scenes where him and Bloodsport try to one up each other because they essentially have the same background. And there's also Ratcatcher (technically she is the second rendition of the Ratcatcher with her father being the first), who was the heart of the Suicide Squad. I loved her. But the biggest show stealer was King Shark. He was the best character in the whole movie. Stallone probably made some easy money but dammit he gave it his all in this role.
This film was also funny as all hell. James Gunn knows how to make a funny movie. There are a number of scenes and dialogue that just had me bursting out with laughter. The film is very self aware and doesn't take itself too serious. Everyone knows how ridiculous the movie trully is and they just live it up.
It also lives up to its R-rating. Yeah I know I've complained about some comic book movies having unnecessary R-ratings like Birds of Prey and Hellboy (2019), but I believe this was a movie that needed an R-rating. There's great action sequences and some really gory kills in this movie. Again it all works. Everything in this movie works.
Well maybe not everything. For example I think the major issue this film has is its villains. That always seems to be a reoccuring problem with some comic book movies. We have three main villains (technically four) in this movie and the movie, as is the audience, is not interested in them. Two of the villains are typical dictators and one of them is an actual comic book character, the Thinker. Yet the film doesn't do much with any of them. As for the fourth villain I can't say much due to spoilers, but I think you can guess which one I'm referring to. That said character was a better villain than the three mentioned. Hell, I even felt bad for it towards the end.
Overall, The Suicide Squad is a much better film all thanks to James Gunn's brilliant directing and writing. They took a simple premise as a team of supervillains forced to work for the government and turned it into an absolutely fun movie. This is arguably one of the better films in the DCEU. If DC and Warner Bros. can keep making movies like this and bring in talent like this, they might just give Marvel a run for their money. Or at the very least they'll finally catch up to Marvel after all these years.
-Actual character development
-Fucking King Shark MVP
-Hilarious as Hell
-Great action & gore
-Maybe some villain characters
Final Grade: A-
So those are my thoughts on The Suicide Squad. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts on it? Please be kind leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews here on Prose!
Bloodsport: “No one likes a show-off.”
Peacemaker: “Unless what they’re showing off is dope as fuck.”
Bloodsport: “Fuck, that’s true.”
#harrysituationreviews #film #opinion #DC #comics #superhero #supervillain #action #comedy #AGrade
‘Pears on a Willow Tree’ by Leslie Pietrzyk
Do kielbasa and sauerkraut taste better on an expensive plate trimmed in gold? Are 12 jars of homemade pickles an appropriate gift for newlyweds? Can a family with deep roots in Poland produce a generational harvest in America?
Those questions—and many more—flow from the pen of Leslie Pietrzyk in a book as multi-faceted as a diamond and just as fascinating.
Pears on a Willow Tree tells the story of the four Marchewka women—as different as the points on a compass, each maneuvering her own voyage in life’s journey, balancing the traditions of an immigrant family from the Old World while adapting to the ever-new, ever-changing terrain of a New World that doesn’t always welcome newcomers.
Rose, who leaves her mother behind in Poland and goes to America; Helen, who grows up in Detroit and never leaves; Ginger, who was ready as a child to leave the grey skies of Michigan and the suffocating emotional bonds of family life; and, Amy, who eventually travels to Thailand to find her place in this world.
Imagine four individuals, each standing on the corner of a four-way stop describing an accident that happened right in from of them. Then think about the four spending the rest of their lives trying to reconcile what they saw while hearing reports from the others. That’s an over-simplification of the swirling-twirling emotional twists and turns woven into Pears on a Willow Tree.
Pietrzyk handles the intricacy of multi-level, multi-generational relationships with skill and purpose. Each Marchewka woman—Rose, Helen, Ginger, and Amy—gets the chance to share what she saw unfold from her position in time and space. Understandably, each sees something different—and the fact that the women are admittedly stubborn (and each subsequent generation is progressively more American) makes interpersonal interaction ever more complicated.
It should be noted that food, as it does in so many immigrant families, plays a key role in this saga—and the Marchewka women making pierogi (pih-ROH-ghee) in Rose’s kitchen (beginning on page 2) is a Keystone Cops adventure worth the price of admission all by itself.
Amidst the flying flour and shouts of ingredients, there’s even a semi-sacrilegious moment, when Helen says, “I saw they’ve got ready-made pierogi at Kroger…”
Her daughter Ginger asks, “Are They good?”
To which the seasoned grandma authoritatively responds, “Who would buy them?”
But Pears on a Willow Tree isn’t a lively “Brady Bunch” episode—though it does have its lighter moments. Rose’s journey to America and struggle to adjust will resonant with most immigrant families. Helen’s dichotomy of having one foot firmly planted in each world illustrates her inability to leave either. Ginger’s desperate desire to escape the chains of family and tradition are unsettling at best and tumultuous the rest of the time. Amy’s freedom to make her own choices ends up landing her in Thailand—a country so exotic that neither her Polish roots nor her American upbringing fully prepare her for what she finds.
Suffice to say that Pears on a Willow Tree mixes up batches of humor, drama, success, and tragedy—each served up with its own distinct texture and taste.