Thursday, 30 January 2014

How to Make it Through a Law Degree

Are you a student at university? Do you study law? Do you regret all the life choices that led to that decision? Here's a guide to help you stay sane when all the cases about some guy getting pissy because he had a fight with his son and now he wants to renege on a deal where he said his son would inherit his farmland because he's petty like that and oh the daughter doesn't even come into it because why bother giving farmland to her when she'll just marry some guy who will make her farm HIS land if you get what I'm saying so there's this whole pointless expensive legal battle where no-one gets what they want and the law isn't even clarified so what I'm saying is just don't piss off your dad because he will mess up your shit make you contemplate throwing yourself out of a window.

1) Don't study law - if you are still young and considering all the options life has to give you - don't do law. You may think it's a really good idea, and oh yes, the salary is appealing, but no. Don't do it. It's not worth it. Nothing is worth it. And honestly, less than 20% of people who graduate with a law degree end up going into the legal field. Even fewer people actually qualify to become barristers or solicitors. The ones that do probably end up taking thirty years off their life due to the stress, and also dealing with insufferable people who ironically MAKE YOU WANT TO COMMIT CRIMES SO THEY WOULD SHUT THE HELL UP. And why do you want to study law anyway? Let me tell you, when you have to read cases about people who rip their own legs open, defecate on the wound and then stick TWO faucets up their anus and refuse to have them removed because they're afraid of needles, you really start getting tired of this shit. However, if you like so many before you, are in too deep and have already made the mistake of picking the damn subject as a degree, move on to step two.

2) Use your degree as an excuse for everything - so it's too late for you. You're already studying this godforsaken, good-for-nothing subject. But never fear. You may be stuck learning the difference between registered and unregistered land, but at least you don't have to do any of that other shit you don't want to do; your degree will come in handy in providing you with reasons to ignore people who for some reason want you in their life. Here are some examples:

Your friend: Hey, you wanna come watch my saxophone rehearsal?
You: Nah, sorry mate, gotta study for my law degree.

Your mum: Could you take out the bins? You haven't moved from that seat all day!
You: Nah, sorry Mum, need to work on this essay for my law degree.

Your boss: You can't just waltz in four hours later, what the hell have you been doing?
You: Sorry, sir, been doing stuff - for my law degree.

Bartender: I think you should slow down -
You: I'm doing a law degree.

Shopkeeper: Why are you paying in Monopoly money?
You: Law degree.

Landlord: You're not getting your deposit back.
You: Actually, I'm doing a law degree and -
Landord: Get off my property.

So I guess it doesn't work on everyone.

3) Don't do any work until the night before - "What?" I hear you ask. "Nonsense!" I hear you say. But realistically, if you're this far in the post and haven't clicked off to find some actual useful advice, then you probably don't give a shit anymore. And that, my friend, is the key to all of life's problems. Doing essays the night before they are due in is vital to surviving a law degree, because a) if you care so little about the work, you're less likely to be a ball of terrified screaming mess whose life will be over if they don't get a 2:1, b) yay more free time to spend eating snacks and watching TV, and c) every lawyer needs to be able to bullshit their way through a problem so if you do fail the essay, you can always practise your bullshitting skills by coming up with some sob story (feel free to consult any X Factor episode ever) to tell your tutor to convince them to give you a passing mark and/or a re-mark/second chance at the essay. If this doesn't work, resort to blackmail. You'll most likely have learnt how to get away with it in your criminal law module. Unless you spent your criminal law module studying necrophilia and bestiality which YES I DID ACTUALLY AND WHAT AN INSIGHT INTO HUMANITY THAT WAS.

4) Piss and moan endlessly about your degree to get people to feel sorry for you - this works a little like step two, except you might get sympathy and/or free stuff out of it, if used correctly. Examples:

Family at breakfast:
Dad: So, how's uni going?
You: Oh, God. It's so hard! I just don't know if I'm gonna make it and everyone is better than me and I NEVER understand the lectures and I just feel like crying and I'm not eating enough and I feel like I've made the worst mistake. If only something good would happen!
Dad: you want the last hash brown?
You: Yep.

Friends at the cinema:
Friend: So, what film do you want to watch?
You: Nothing with law in it. I feel like law is ruining my life! I'm so stupid and everyone knows all this legal jargon even though I'm in the library all day and I can't even enjoy a night out with friends without it coming back to haunt me.
Friend: Aw, it's okay! Do you want me to buy you popcorn?
You: Yep.

At the pool/beach:
Random guy/girl/manatee hitting on you: So, I hear you do a law degree?
You: (burst into hysterical tears)
Guy/girl/manatee: Er,! Will ice-cream make you feel better?
You: Yep.

On a yellow line:
Warden: Ticket for you!
You: I was parked there for TWO minutes, I was literally across the street and I've had such a bad day, I'm failing my degree, I don't understand anything about EU law, can't you just let me off for today -
Warden: I spend my days ticketing cars dressed like a prick, does it look like I give a shit?
You: ...

So, like step two, it doesn't work on everyone.

5) Don't bother going to a single campus/careers organised event - seriously though. Your careers advisers will be like "they're SO useful" and "you just must go to the Law Fair!" and "you can put it on your CV!" but it's all lies. Try putting this crap on your CV and you'll struggle to describe it as anything other than "useless event that taught me nothing". University organised events are mostly just bullshit about "commercial awareness" that by this stage in your degree you will already have heard way too much about and the only thing they're good for is taking the free pens and sticky tabs that are occasionally laid out if someone has come to visit to give a talk. No joke. When you hear the exact same presentation THREE times at three "different" events, you know it's time to give this shit up, and walk out of there with your bag full of stolen stationery and your head held high.

6) Try and make your life resemble Elle's from Legally Blonde (but not Legally Blonde 2. Dear God, not Legally Blonde 2) - because this is the only way you might actually think your degree is worth anything. Search for guys named Warner and Emmett. Start calling your best friend Vivian if you have to. Go to a nail salon and teach people the "bend and snap". Help a friend regain custody of their dog from their douche ex-boyfriend. Better yet, make your life like Legally Blonde the Musical - because then you can burst into song. And if you haven't seen Legally Blonde, for God's sake, what are you doing with your life?

7) Never, and I mean never, talk to that kid who always wears suits - to every lecture and every tutorial and around campus buying bloody toilet paper from the student union shop. Don't trust that kid. For what reason does a student have to wear suits ALL THE TIME? I get at a job and interviews and the Law Fair but seriously. That kid probably sleeps in that suit. And takes it to the cinema and out to dinner. You just know that kid is obsessed with law. Posters of gravels likely hang in their room, with forty copies of The Lawyer being used as a coffee table. Unless you want to be bored to death by the implications of some law shit on some other law related shit, avoid this person at all costs.

8) Watch countless episodes of Suits and Law & Order - then laugh hysterically at the way the legal profession is portrayed and get off on the fact that hundreds more people will be fooled into doing law degrees so you won't be alone in your pain and suffering because TV shows like these make law seem so fun and interesting when really you're this close to grabbing your bag full of useless textbooks and magazines and burning it all in the middle of a lecture about negligence claims.

9) Make a back-up plan - obviously you're not getting into the legal field, so decide on what other career path you might take. Don't bother emailing tutors or lecturers because they will try to convince you to stay with the torturous subject that is ruining your life. Spend hours on the internet agonising over what to do before finally deciding that the job of chocolate tasting in a chocolate factory is for you.

10) Screw the legal system and become a vigilante - because we all know the law is as complicated as a Tim Burton movie and no-one really knows what they're doing anyway. Decide on a costume (no capes) and a name - the more cliché, the better - and go out into the night and take the law into your own hands. Those criminals will never see The Vengeful Night/Phoenix Rising/Knight of Justice/I Don't Know About You But I'm Feeling 22/insert other ridiculous name coming.

If all else fails, at least rejoice in the fact that thousands of people across the country are in the same position, and not a single one of them is enjoying this diabolical degree either.

(Except that kid in the suit.)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Review: Blindsided by Natalie Whipple

Blindsided (Transparent #2) by Natalie Whipple
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: January 2nd 2014
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Three months after Fiona escapes from her father's syndicate, all seems well in her tiny town of Madison, Arizona. She and Seth are happy together - apart from the teensy fact of Fiona being jealous that Seth can see through her invisibility - and her family and friends are safe. But when the local syndicate and even the Army show up, it's clear there's more going on in town than she could ever imagine. It seems like these huge powers are interested in the old Radiasure factory - could they be reproducing the infamous drug that caused mutations? - and everyone suspects Fiona of knowing more than she should. As Fiona and her friends try to cover their tracks, they discover that they do have some dangerous knowledge. Though at first determined to stop anyone from remaking Radiasure, Fiona learns a secret that could change everything, including her invisibility. Torn between her own desires and the greater good, Fiona might be too blindsided to see the real villain coming. (from Goodreads)

Blindsided was a great sequel to Transparent and I'm really hoping there's a third book, because I'd love to see more from this series.

Things started off about six months after the end of the last book, and Fiona's was enjoying a (semi)normal life that didn't involve running away from her crazy father. Unfortunately for her, however, there were new problems to consider - Juan's men were hanging around too often, and now the Army was sticking its nose into things. I felt so bad for Fiona - she just couldn't get to enjoy some peace and quiet! And on top of all that, she was having problems with her relationship with Seth. She constantly felt awkward about her invisibility and was jealous that Seth could see her when she couldn't even see herself. But he just didn't seem to understand what the problem was and was upset that she kept pushing him away. They were arguing a lot, but despite that were still determined to protect each other. I really liked seeing this side of them, and it was nice to have a balance of cool actiony stuff and normal teen worries - it made me really feel for the characters. I loved Fiona's realisation at the end and how she finally had begun to start accepting herself.

There was also the problem of trying to hide Seth's secret from The Pack. His ability was acting up and causing him a lot of pain. He had used it too much and now it seemed to be affecting him at random moments. Fiona and Brody was really worried but there was nothing they could do without exposing his true ability. I have to say, I did think the final reveal moment would be a bit more dramatic, but it was kind of anticlimactic. I did, however, love the addition of Spud the hacker, Miles's girlfriend. She was really different from the other characters - she was a bit boastful and very confident in her abilities, but she really loved Miles and treated Fiona like family from the start. At first it was a bit strange for Fiona to see her big brother with a girl he actually seemed to care about, but I liked that she and Spud became friends in the end.

Even Graham had started to turn a new leaf. Now he was away from his evil dad, he seemed to be trying to be nicer and wanted to earn everyone's trust. I didn't really forgive him for everything he'd done and still suspected him, to be honest, but I liked that he was trying to heal his relationship with Fiona. He had a new girlfriend as well, who seemed to be having a positive influence on him.

Plot-wise, I was intrigued by the Army's true intentions  and it all sounded a bit fishy to me. They were apparently looking for the "missing element" in Radiasure. The Phantom, one of Juan's men, was trying to interfere as well and was threatening Fiona and her family. He needed the element so he could replicate Radiasure, and his ability made him a man very difficult to stand against. Fiona also suspected her father may be involved too but couldn't work out how. There were quite a few twists and I was definitely surprised by something we found out about Seth's family.

Overall, I really enjoyed Blindsided and while I may have liked the first book slightly more, I would definitely be up for a third book! Recommended, and if you haven't started this series yet, pick up the first book now!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Transparent (Transparent #1) by Natalie Whipple
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: May 16th 2013
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

High school is hard when you're invisible.

Fiona McClean hates her family, has had to move to a new school and seems to be completely invisible to the boy she likes. So far so normal, right? But Fiona really is invisible. She doesn't even know what colour her own hair is.

Born into a world where Cold War anti-radiation pills have caused genetic mutations, Fiona is forced to work for her mind-controlling mobster father as the world's most effective thief. When her father announces she must become a murdering assassin, Fiona and her telekinetic mother make a break for freedom. Running to a small Arizonian town, Fiona finds that playing at 'normal life' with a mother on the edge, a brother she can't trust, and a boy who drives her crazy is as impossible as escaping her father.
(from Goodreads)

Transparent was such an enjoyable read! I loved all the different elements to it - it was a great mix of everything and the idea was executed really well - with invisibility, there's a chance things can get really cheesy or cliché, but Transparent wasn't like that at all and I really liked it overall.

Fiona was a fab main character. She had basically been used as a tool by her (detestable) father her whole life, and yet no matter what she did, she never felt like she got his approval. He made her lie and steal and do awful things, and used her invisibility for his own means. He never saw her as a person - no-one did. People were either afraid of her or resented her. The poor girl didn't even know what she looked like and yet she had to deal with a messed up family on top of everything else. Fiona didn't trust anyone either and it was difficult for her to open up to people at the start. I liked watching her character develop and realise that not everyone was like her father, and that some people genuinely cared about her. It was nice to see people appreciate her for who she was - I think she really needed to know that.

I loved a lot of the characters in this book, but Miles, Bea and Seth were my favourites. Miles was one of Fiona's brothers and at the start seemed to be the only person in her family actually concerned about her welfare. Her mother tried too, but it was difficult to like her at the beginning. Miles was just likeable and lovely and genuine and was willing to do whatever he could to protect his sister. He hated their father and didn't want Fiona to continue having to live with him. And he just had a personality you couldn't help but warm to! Bea was Fiona's first real friend, I suppose, though things started off a bit shaky between them. I liked that Bea didn't give up on trying to be Fiona's friend and I really enjoyed reading about their friendship and how close they became later on. Bea was willing to do a lot to help Fiona, even though it was dangerous, and I just think she was a really good friend. I liked her own complicated relationship with Brady too (who was also a great character) and was glad she got her own story, even if it was small. Seth was a character I, much like Fiona, didn't really like much to begin with, but he really grew on me. I liked his passion for maths and his determination to help Fiona who struggled with it. He also kept her secrets and was generally there for her to talk to when she had a problem - they could sort of share their problems with each other, and it was nice to see they could comfort one another when things were tough. He could be a bit sappy at times, but it was forgivable since he was a good character the rest of the time!

Plot-wise, I really loved the whole escape-from-the-syndicate storyline. I really didn't know who to trust or what Fiona's dad might do if he found them, and there were a lot of surprises along the way. I was never bored and the book was just really easy to read and engage with - it was thoroughly entertaining. It was actually a bit darker than I expected, but had just the right amount of comedy to balance it out, and like I said before, it wasn't cliché like it could have been. It was just such an interesting story - I've read about invisibility powers before, but never about someone who was permanently invisible, so it was intriguing to see from that point of view. Looking forward to the next book.

Overall, I really liked Transparent and definitely recommend it to people who like books about superpowers with a side of romance and comedy.