Book Review- Mayada, Daughter of Iraq

An unassuming innocent mother of two, Mayada Al-Askari, ran her Iraqi printing business smoothly until one day she was seized by Saddam’s secret police and thrown into his notorious torture jail, falsely accused of printing anti-government pamphlets. Author Jean Sasson chronicles this woman’s survival in Baladiyat, the torture jail.

Here she is locked up in a cell with other women in-mates known as the ‘shadow women’ who support each other in times of strife, indeed proving that misery loves company. In the grime and darkness that is cell 52, they share stories of their lives and what might have been, bonding over their ill fate.

Mayada soon learns  that it is more painful to hear others being tortured than being tortured oneself. Guards used rape as a brutal punishment against both men and women in Baladiyat, something Mayada herself witnesses. Prisoners screech as they are beaten, whipped, electrocuted and when their fingernails are savagely ripped out. This book is raw and riveting, narrating the harsh reality of Saddam’s regime in Iraq and how easily the law could be bent in his favour whenever he so desired.

I’d recommend this book to one and all, except perhaps the faint-hearted for the gruesome details in the book can be quite hard to digest. It makes one wonder how anyone could have survived such a thing.

5 Reasons why the Amazing Spiderman 2 wasn’t Amazing

*Beware of spoilers

Having waited for this movie for half the year, anticipating it to be the blockbuster of the summer, I was slightly disappointed. Certainly not the worst Spidey film I’ve ever seen but it’s definitely not great enough to still feature the word amazing in its title.

Here are a few reasons why The Amazing Spiderman 2 didn’t live up to its name:

1. The plot is slow to build and non-cohesive in structure.

To put it simply, there was just too much going on. Everything starts off fine with Spiderman fighting crime on the streets of New York and then attending his high school graduation. Then come two villains in the form of Electro and the Green Goblin who make their random appearances in the midst of Peter Parker’s inner turmoil concerning the mystery of his father’s past and his complicated relationship with Gwen Stacy. Atypical of the usual superhero storyline, it seems jumbled and confused in itself.

2. Electro turns into a villain because of the smallest of misunderstandings.


Max Dillon, a man who feels unnoticed with low self esteem, portrayed by Jamie Foxx, becomes an electrified being through an unfortunate accident at Oscorp but the overall character is anything but electrifying. Initially harmless, a small misunderstanding wherein a cop shoots at him is the reason for Electro’s hatred towards Spidey, something quite baseless.

3. Harry Osborn wasn’t necessary in the film, except to free Electro and oh, kill Gwen Stacy.

Harry Osborn’s introduction into the film could have had real potential especially with Dane DeHaan’s performance but in the overall scheme of things, he was only relevant in helping Electro escape Oscorp and wreak havoc across NYC. His hatred towards Spiderman stems from the fact that he was denied Spidey’s blood to cure his deadly disease and then upon realising the masked hero’s true identity, he seeks revenge by throwing Gwen into the middle of their battle, ultimately resulting in her untimely demise.

4. Peter and Gwen’s relationship is doomed from the start but still hurts in the end.

In the first movie, Peter had promised Gwen’s father on his deathbed that he would stay away from Gwen yet goes ahead and dates her anyway. Then in the second movie, he starts to feel guilty and breaks up with Gwen again. Despite the fact that he is no longer seeing her, he follows her to make sure she’s safe but in the end when Gwen runs into his battle with Electro, he doesn’t stop her (a good move because he couldn’t have defeated Electro without her). When Gwen dies in the end, it’s heartbreaking to see Peter go through another death of a loved one.

5. Peter spent a lot of time out of his Spiderman suit.

With two villains in the mix, you’d think the action sequences would last for the majority of the movie but in actuality, Peter seems to spend a lot of time digging into his father’s past and finding his old lab, leaving many questions unanswered. Then on top of that comes the interspersed scenes when Peter meets up with Gwen and they establish ground rules for their friendship. Sadly it just wasn’t meant to be.