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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Review!

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I recently read the summer book hit We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and I loved it – enough to record this long, rambly, superfun review of it. Join me for what one commenter lovingly described as “more of a chat about a book with a good friend than an official review”. I’m into that description.


 

What did you think? What were your favorite “hints”? Tell me in the comments – I just can’t stop thinking and talking about this book!

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Making Time For Reading

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As summer is winding down, all I can feel is the impending knowledge that life is about to get a lot more busy. That can be both a good or bad thing, but either way it makes finding time to read a bit more difficult. That’s why I’ve made this video!

 

Have any other good tips for how to fit in some reading time when your to-do list is stacked against you? Leave a comment!

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Device Theft Awareness Month – Wrap Up and Sweepstakes!

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As August draws to a close, so does Device Theft Awareness Month with Absolute LoJack Uncovered. I feel like I have learned so much throughout this month and have a much better handle on what to do if something like this ever happens to me! I hope you feel the same way. Today’s blog post is my last one on the subject, and a bit of a wrap up and refresher of the most important information to take with you into the rest of your lives.

Device theft can happen anywhere, at any time — but here’s a list of the top places you should really make sure you’re on your guard:

1. Bus or subway stations. Especially at peak hours and when transit is in the process of leaving or arriving.
2. Restaurants, especially near exits. Don’t leave your purse hanging behind you on the back of your chair!
3. Concerts, bars and clubs. People are in extremely close proximity and there’s typically little to no storage options for your purses or jackets.
4. Offices, when many people feel secure enough to leave their phones on their desks while running to the bathroom or on an errand.
5. Stores or gas stations, where people often are juggling many items at once and may leave their phone in a cart or on a counter for a moment.

It’s a little depressing having to worry about keeping our devices safe at all times, but what I’m finding is that just a few little steps here and there can help stop these types of robberies before they even start. Keeping your phone tucked away at certain times might make a potential criminal overlook you as a victim, because you haven’t made it easy for them.

The biggest change I am making in this regard is to start packing a book again when I take public transit. Most thieves aren’t going to steal a book, and if you have that out instead of your phone, you might have just significantly decreased your likelihood of being a target. Sure I sometimes miss playing Dragonvale on the bus, but I’d much rather lose a bit of gaming time in exchange for knowing my phone is safe. Because if your phone is stolen, think about everything else you’ll be missing.

At the end of the day, device theft is a real threat and it’s growing all the time. It was one of the top 10 complaints with the FTC for the 13th consecutive year and had an increase of 32% in complaints back in 2012. Here’s a sobering statistic: in 2012, about 16.6 million people (which is 7% of all U.S. residents age 16 or older) reported being victims of one or more cases of identity theft. People age 20-29 are the most affected by this, so be aware.

You don’t have to live in fear – just live slightly more carefully. Live knowing your information is safe, because you took the necessary precautions way ahead of time. It’s actually a really freeing thought, especially if your phone/laptop are such integral parts of your job, like mine is. :)

I want to help you protect yourself and your smartphone! If you’re interested in Absolute LoJack, readers of my blog can get 30% a 1 year standard or premium subscription by using the code “UNCOVER30″ at checkout. This offer is valid through August 31.

Also! They’re offering a pretty sweet sweepstakes in exchange for putting up with us blathering on about device theft all month. If you sign up for a 30-day free trial & enter the Absolute Software Laptop Lifeline Sweepstakes 2014, you could win a large cash prize & other great stuff!

sweepstakes

Simply visit https://www.laptoplifeline.com/ and enter a valid email address to receive a one month trial code of Absolute LoJack. Follow the instructions to activate and you are entered into the sweepstakes! There is no purchase necessary.

There will be three winners! There will be a grand prize, one first place prize and one second place prize – all with different prize packages.  Each winner will be randomly drawn by Absolute LoJack on 9/15.  Eligibility: legal residents of the United States and Canada, excluding Quebec, age 18 or older as of August 18, 2014. The sweepstakes runs through September 12, 2014, see the official rules here

Disclosure: This product has been gifted to me, however all opinions expressed in my review are my own.

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Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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Raise your hand if you’re a fan of Stephanie Perkins, the author of Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door! Now raise your hand if you’ve managed to sink your teeth into Isla and the Happily Ever After!

This book came out on August 14th – which was also the day I posted my video review of it. I decided to wait a little while to post it over here, to give you all a bit of time to catch up and read it, since my video is bursting with spoilers.

 

Please let me know your thoughts about the book down in the comments! Did you love it? Did you like Anna or Lola better? I’m dying to find out.

I’ll hopefully be doing a lot more book reviews in the future, so please let me know if you’re enjoying them.

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Why Find My iPhone Isn’t Enough

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Hello lovely blog readers! I’m back with another update on Device Theft Awareness Month for Absolute LoJack Uncovered, and I want to talk to you a little bit about why it’s so important to get professionals involved if and when your device goes missing.

As I’ve been talking about device theft this month, I’ve had a number of people asking me why they need a service like Absolute LoJack when they’ve already installed Find My iPhone (or something similar) on their device.

I’ll preface this post by saying that Find My iPhone is awesome… if you’ve just misplaced your phone. If you can use it to locate your phone on the floor of your bedroom, dropped in your backyard, stuffed between the drivers seat and wall of your car — awesome. Perfect.

But what if your phone was stolen? What if an actual criminal is in the possession of your phone, and Find My iPhone directs you to an apartment across town? What are you supposed to do then? Drive over and knock on the door? Steal it back? This could lead you to an incredibly dangerous situation, and more importantly — if it’s identity theft they’re after, it also might even be too late.

Here’s a list of reasons you should leave it to the professionals if your phone is stolen:

1. You’ve already been stolen from, you don’t need to get hurt as well. The person who stole your phone is a criminal, and you have no way of knowing if they’ll use violence against you.

2. You might identify the wrong person as the culprit, which could lead to a messy situation.

3. You are not Veronica Mars. It’s possible that you could actually get in the way of a police investigation, allowing the criminal to continue what they’re doing without arrest.

This is a very serious situation, one that caused a teen to lose her life just last month while attempting to recover a stolen phone. Here’s an article about what happened.

Also, Find My iPhone doesn’t lock down your information the way Absolute LoJack can. Even if you have a password on your phone, it might not take a smart criminal very much time to crack that code and get to all of your information anyway. Same with your laptop – there’s way too much valuable information stored inside your laptop to consider giving criminals even the chance the snoop around.

Absolute LoJack not only makes sure they cant access that information, it comes with a dedicated investigation team who both work to recover your device and enlist local law enforcement to bring down the criminal(s) behind the theft.

How secure is your laptop? Find out here with this quick and fun quiz! And if you’re interested in Absolute LoJack, readers of my blog can get 30% a 1 year standard or premium subscription by using the code “UNCOVER30″ at checkout. This offer is valid through August 31.

Disclosure: This product has been gifted to me, however all opinions expressed in my review are my own.

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The Selection Series by Kiera Cass – REVIEW!

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I read the Selection series a little while ago (made up of The Selection, The Elite and The One) and it was equal parts frustrating and life ruining as well as amazingly fun. I’m not going to say it was the most exquisite piece of literature I’ve ever read, but it was definitely a journey – and a fun one, at that.

In honor of the news that we’ll be getting not only another set of supplemental novellas but also MORE BOOKS, I figured I would make a post sharing the review I did of this series back when I first read it. You have until next summer to get caught up for the new books, but there’s no time like the present when it comes to Prince Maxon, am I right?

 

Have you read The Selection? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Sometimes I can’t decide either, but it’s still one of my favorite series regardless of that fact. I know. I’m a mess.

 

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Animorphs and a Book Haul

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Here a couple more videos I’ve posted this week that never made it onto my blog if you happened to miss them on my YouTube channel!

First, a video admitting to a part of childhood I (apparently) missed out on: I Never Read Animorphs.

 

Next is a a book haul! I’ve gotten a lot of great new books lately and I am just itching to read all of them. If there are any books in particular from this haul that you’d like to see a review on, be sure to let me know!

 

I think I’m finally up to date again on sharing my new videos, so we’ll get back to our normal one video per blog post schedule next week. Thanks for sticking with me, and make sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel if you want to know when my videos go up right when it happens.

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Renaissance Faire Instagram Flashback

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I love Renaissance Faires. I really love them.

Usually I manage to make it to about one a year but in 2014 I’ve had the good fortune of attending THREE. I got to check out LA’s Pleasure Festival back in April, then I finally finally finally got to attend Faerieworlds down in Oregon in July, and I wrapped up my Renaissance circuit with the Midsummer Fantasy Faire right here in Washington this past weekend.

I figured I would put together a compilation of photos from the events to share the experiences with you, dear readers. Photos go a lot further when it comes to these events.

Row 1: The SoCal Pleasure Faire with Ariana, Tyler, Sammy and Joe! This one was so big we didn’t even realize we’d missed a whole section of booths and shops until the faire was almost over! We spent the day shopping, eating, and enjoying the fact that it wasn’t 100 degrees out, like most Faires we usually attend.

That second picture has detail shots of all my new medieval swag (the best part of attending a Ren Faire is adding to your outfits each year; I’m totally guilty of overspending all the time). The third picture was just a funny vendor that made me laugh.

Row 2: Faerieworlds is my new favorite event of all time. It’s sort of a Renaissance Faire meets music festival, and it’s right outside of Eugene, Oregon. I attended with some of my best friends: Eia, Joe, Justin, Ariana, Jenn and Liz. You set up camp, you shop, you dance, you listen to live music and you seriously unplug from everything else. We started the weekend in elaborate mythical creature costumes and ended up wearing next to nothing as it got hotter and dustier.

That second picture is a bunch of us hanging out in a yurt that Ariana was totally in love with… they just left it open all the time, so it became our go to chill space when it was too hot during the day or too cold at night.

The stage with constant folk music playing was a serious highlight, as was the fact that most booths and food vendors stayed open at all hours of the weekend. However, my favorite part was that there were workshops and activities for everyone – I spent a good amount of time with hula hoopers, learning new tricks (as you can see in the third picture) – while the others were at sword fighting workshops. It was truly amazing.

Rows 3: This was our first day at the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire with Eia, Ariana, Joe and Meagan. It included immediately getting my hair braided (because it was way too goddamn hot) and putting Eia in jail. It was her birthday, so it seemed like the thing to do. These guys publicly “arrested” her and dragged her over to be contained until she tap danced for them and sang Happy Birthday to herself.

We’re great friends.

This is the Faire I’ve been going to since high school, so it’s always fun to run into familiar faces and delight in how much the event grows each year.

Row 4: The second day of the faire was absurd when it comes to impulse buys for just about everyone involved in the trip. Also Liz joined us. I bought mermaid ears (can you believe it!? mermaid ears that look totally amazing!) and a crystal flute. I’m not even joking you. If someone told me as a child that I would spend my hard earned adult money on mermaid ears and a crystal flute… well… I probably wouldn’t have been surprised. I was a weird kid.

So that was my Renaissance Faire experience for the year, and I’m terribly saddened that it’s over for now. There are always yuletide feasts to look forward to, but I’ll miss the dusty paths of the faire, the turkey legs, the bards, the bodice ice. Until next year, huzzah!

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5 Tips to Prevent Cell Phone Theft

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Hello, lovely blog readers! I’ve learned so much in my research for Device Theft Awareness Month that I am just itching to tell you some of the tips I’ve picked up. I’m going to be honest with you – some of it seriously blew my mind.

Sometimes I still catch myself thinking “but this stuff is crazy, it’s not going to happen to me” and I have to mentally kick myself. Over 1.6 million smartphones were stolen in the US in 2012, and it’s only risen since then; it could totally happen to me (unless I start changing the way I approach having a phone in public). Every time I think about losing my phone (and more importantly, the stuff that’s on it) I find myself breaking out into a weird combination of hives and a cold sweat and then my vision starts getting a little blurry and basically – these tips are incredibly useful.

First and foremost, cellphones distract us. It’s the same reason we’re not supposed to text in class, or be on our phones while we’re driving – our attention is divided and we’re not totally aware of our surroundings. It’s funny, because in the past I’d been told if I was walking alone at night, it was a good idea to pretend to be on a call with someone who was nearby, to say loudly “Oh you left the light on, I can see it from here, I’ll be home soon!” I was told predators are less likely to accost a person who’s got backup nearby.

But that advice has changed a bit as the years have gone by. Obviously if there’s a predator lurking about, you can never truly know what their intentions are… but with device theft on the rise, having your phone out in your hand, advertising that you’re holding an expensive piece of equipment, is a big safety no-no.

I know, it’s news to me too. Don’t use our phones in public? But…. you mean just at night, right? Well – I know it’s hard, in a world that’s become so plugged in, but experts are leaning more toward advising people not to pull your phones out in public at all if you can stand it. At the very least, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. If you need to respond to a text or answer a call, wait until you’re inside a store or your your job or school. A theft is much less likely to happen inside a well-lit building surrounded by people/security/etc. I know this sounds absolutely crazy (don’t answer your phones when it rings?!) but there are very few times a text or a call can’t wait a few moments until you’re someplace safer to pull out your phone.

2. On that note, when you’re not using your phone, hide it away. A pocket that zips, inside a backpack or purse, or even your waistband.

3. Even earbuds are an advertisement that you’ve got a smartphone hidden away. Obviously there are times when it’s totally acceptable to wear your earbuds (running in broad daylight, riding the bus) but maybe you should turn the music down anyway if you’re walking alone at night.

4. Always keep your phone on vibrate when you’re not at home or somewhere equally as safe. Vibrate means you and you alone will know your phone is ringing, and no one else really needs to know anyway. A loud ringer is just another alert to thieves that you’ve got a phone on you.

5. Don’t fall for the bait – if someone asks you what time it is and you aren’t wearing a watch, tell them you don’t know. Use careful judgement if you’re going to pull out your cell phone when a stranger asks something like this, because they might be trying to distract you by pulling out your phone.

If you want to know how secure your phone is, you can take this little quiz to get an idea of where you rate on the scale.

I really haven’t signed on to write these posts to scare you, bum you out, or to push a product on you. I agreed to do it because I had no idea how real this threat is, and how easy it can be to protect yourself. Signing up with a program like Absolute LoJack can give you such a peace of mind, because even if your device IS stolen, they’ve got you covered. I didn’t even know services like this existed until I first started doing my research with Absolute LoJack Uncovered.

This month you can sign up using the sweet discount they’re giving my readers of 30% off a 1- year Standard or Premium Subscription – Just enter UNCOVER30 at checkout. This offer will be valid through Aug 31st

Disclosure: This product has been gifted to me, however all opinions expressed in my review are my own.

 

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YouTube Video Roundup!

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Okay, I’ve been slacking a little on this blog. It’s summer! I’ve been busy reading, traveling, etc. It just occurred to me that I’ve totally forgotten to post my videos on this blog, so here’s a few of my most recents to catch you up (if you’ve fallen behind).

This is the video that went live today, a little glimpse into the madness that has become my cosplay obsession. My roommates and I have been scheduling weekly work dates to sew costumes, make props, read tutorials, customize wigs, and so on. I thought it would be fun to give a little work in progress before I reveal the finished costumes at the end of the month:

 

Then I shared this past month’s favorite with you in a standard recommendation video. These are always some of my favorite videos to make, since I’m always obsessing over new TV shows and app games and products, so make sure to watch it if you missed it!

 

And the last video I wanted to share with you for this particular update is a fun little vlog I posted that was much more in my ‘older’ style of videos, musing on the idea of lost things and sharing a few of the items I’ve lost over the years. This one is a tag video, so feel free to make a response if you are so inclined!

 

That’s it for now! I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s installment of Device Theft Awareness Month, as well as a few more video updates over the course of the week (I told you, I got pretty behind but I didn’t want to overwhelm you all in one post). Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon!

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