Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas -- Share Your Child's Favorite Book w/ Them - Even If You Can't Be There to Read It (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

It is not often that I stumble across a product that I find myself wanting to tell everyone about, as I am 1) excited to have found out about it, 2) love what it has to offer, 3) know other parents/grandparents would love it, too.  This is the case with the Sparkup reader I was recently sent to review.  The Sparkup reader is considered a magical book reader, as it has a little built in camera that can detect recorded book's pages, as it reads a child's book to them, that you have previously recorded on the book reader.  Don't think you can fool the Sparkup Magical Book Reader by flipping ahead a few pages, or skipping a page. 

With the built-in camera, it detects this and will skip to the page you are currently viewing and read your recorded voice. This was my daughter, Savannah's favorite feature as she really though it was magic, and would try her hardest to throw the book reader off.  She thought that if she flipped through the pages fast enough, or turned a few pages at once, that the book reader would flub up and read the wrong text --- but, time and time again, it would detect where Savannah was in the book, and read that particular page. :-)  MAGIC!

Recording your own book to this reader is a breeze, with 3 easy steps.

*Please see this one-page PDF  for more details on how to use the SparkUp reader.

In addition to recording some of your child's favorite books to the Sparkup reader, you can also purchase other books directly from the SparkUp online store, then plug your reader into your computer with the included USB cable and download the professionally recorded stories directly to your book reader.  Once done, clip the Sparkup to the book, press the center button, and your little one is ready to enjoy a bedtime story, etc.   

I love you more1The Night-Night Song1 
Examples of books available for purchase from the SparkUp online store 

"Sparkup can store up to 250 minutes of audio, or approximately 50 recorded storybooks. Transfer files onto your computer to make room for more recordings on Sparkup. It's easy! There's no software to install." 

 I can think of some many instances that this book reader would come in handy:
  • Military families who want to share books together, but are stationed overseas
  • Grandparents who live far away, but want to share in your child's bedtime ritual by reading a book along with them
  • Divorced parents who are trying to ease distance anxiety when children are away from one parent at a given time
  • Parents who work the night shift and can't be there to tuck their child into bed and read to them
  • Parents away on business, but always read a particular bedtime book nightly to your child
  • Beginner readers looking to practice their reading skills, but that want to have you make sure they are pronouncing words right.
  • Bi-lingual parents or relatives looking to help teach your child a new language through readng to them
Other fun ways to use the Sparkup reader:
  • Bringing a photo album to life, as you narrate who is in the photo, where was it taken, etc.
  • Turn your child's picture book or drawings into a story with words.  Either you can record your own story based on the illustrations your child has drawn, or they can record a story and share with you, siblings, or enjoy themselves
I could go on and on just thinking how this book reader would come in handy for parents with children.  While we are in a day and age that everyone is connected to their wireless devices, kids shouldn't have to rely on storybook apps or games to keep them entertained.  Instead, why not sure your love of books with them.  By introducing the Sparkup reader to them, reading will become more fun, as they will love being able to hear your voice, or those they love who can't be there to read to them, as they settle in to read/listen to a good book.

My girls are too young to start reading on their own yet.  But, they still love to look at the illustrations and follow along when books are read to them through this book reader.  I can even read the books I record with funny voices or add in feeling when recording, to make the overall reading experience with the Sparkup reader unique and that much more enjoyable.

So, if you plan on surprising your child with books this holiday season, as a way to instill a love of reading and books with them, why not go one step further and pick up this book reader.  Non-book lovers can't help but sit down to have a story read to them from a parent or relative.  And, like my daughter, your child will love trying to have the reader hiccup and read the wrong page -- even though the book reader is magical and knows best. ;-)  I personally want to thank the parents over in Israel who are behind this amazing electronic device, as they are not only opening the eyes of my daughters and getting them excited about reading, but other parents are seeing similar reactions when their child clips a book onto the book reader.  Books can finally be enjoyed again -- in a fun, new way!

Make a point to bookmark the Sparkup website and return often, as they will be adding new products in the coming year --


To learn more about the Sparkup magical book reader, visit their website here: website; or watch this video now.

In addition to the online local retail stores you plan to hit tomorrow and on Monday, why not make a point to visit the Sparkup store online and pick up this reader.  The Sparkup reader usually retails for $79.99 MSRP, but for the upcoming holiday weekend, you can get it for only $39.99.  In addition to the reader, this special price also includes 2 FREE audio and printed books.  What a great deal, and one that will not last long!
So, make a point to head over to Sparkup online store tomorrow and be one of the first to use coupon code "SparkUpMyBooks" to get this special price.  Note, that this coupon code is only valid until Dec. 3rd, so don't delay.

Don't forget to follow SparkUp on Facebook and Twitter, to stay up-to-date on special offer, new book additions and more.

Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.
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Don't Compromise on Sound Quality When Listening to Your Music on Your Portable Devices (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

The HMDX JAM COLLECTION features the #1 selling wireless speaker in the US! 

Jam flavors

Whether you are lounging poolside on spring break, sitting around a beach bonfire with your friends,meeting in the office conference room, or hanging out in the kitchen, the HMDX JAM Collection was designed with one idea in mind: sharing your music. Six new products, all featuring Bluetooth Technology, deliver sweet sound while breaking away from traditional industry designs to showcase sleek shapes and amazing finishes in bright, vibrant colors that complement our demographics’ style and taste.Bluetooth wireless speaker, portable speaker,

Do you find yourself listening to music on your iPhone, tablet, or other mobile device? If so, how is the sound quality?  Do you have to turn the speaker volume up to full volume to truly enjoy the music?  I oftentimes find myself having to do this, while comprising the sound quality not only of the music itself, but of the phones, as once it reaches the highest volume setting, the phone usually hiccups or makes funny scratching noises.  How could I fix this?  Well, the tech gadget industry is always changing and evolving, and it seems like new products are being added daily to replace outdated ones.  One of the hot items right now is a portable speaker. 

If you were to do a search right now for Bluetooth, wireless or portable speakers, you would come up with pages and pages of products.  But, which ones are the best?  And, how much are you willing to spend of a portable speaker for your needs.  While I listen to my music on my phone daily, I wasn't ready to shell out $100 on a portable speaker.  Why?  Because over the summer my husband invested in a few wireless portable speakers to use poolside, but we ended up returning them, as the sound quality was poor.  You had to be right up near the speaker to actually hear the songs.  And, if you cranked up to full volume, music was choppy, and you could hear popping or clicking type sounds coming from the speaker. 

The same folks who are the top selling massager brand also sell a line of portable speakers called HMDX Jam Wireless Speakers.  I was sent one of their new Jam XT™ Extreme Ruggedized Wireless Speakers to review recently, and can't go anywhere without it.  It has made listening to my music on my mobile phone and iPad that much more enjoyable.  And, now, I can crank up the music and have fun dance parties with the girls in the living room, whenever we want. :-)

Jam flavors
*Product Dimensions: 3.3" x 3.3" x 3"

  • Big sound, small size. Incredible sound quality from a small package. At about 3inches tall, you'll be amazed at the sound.
  • Ruggedized exterior. IP64 rated rubber exterior that makes the Jam XT splash proof, drop proof, and dirt proof.
  • Fold out carabiner. Built-in carabiner for easy transport. Just clip and go!
  • Completely wireless. Works wirelessly up to 30-feet away. Don't be tied down by wires and cords.
  • Totally universal. Works with all Bluetooth-enabled devices: smart phones, tablets and most notebooks. Line-in port for connecting non-Bluetooth devices.
  • Ready for adventure. Rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to 8 hours of wireless play.
  • As unique as you. Available in five jamming flavors: Black Currant (black), Blueberry (blue), Tangerine (orange), Watermelon (pink), and Strawberry (red).

What you will first notice when looking at this line of portable speakers is that they come in what looks like a jam jar with a lid -- hence the name "Jam" wireless speakers.  and with fun color options like Strawberry, Grape, Blueberry, Blackberry, Apricot and Apple flavors -- lending its feel for the jam container in comes in.  Unlike other techie gadgets and accessories, the line of HMDX Jam Bluetooth Wireless speakers can be purchased at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Kohl's, Target and Walmart.   In addition to the HMDX Jam XT™ Extreme Ruggedized Wireless Speaker, which I reviewed, HDMX also offers these other wireless speakers:

Jam Classic™
Ø  HMDX JAM Classic Wireless Speaker (MSRP $49.99)
o   Works with Bluetooth enabled devices up to 30’ away
o   Rechargeable battery- up to 4 hours of play
o   Line-in for connecting non-Bluetooth devices
o   Available in multiple colors 

Jam Plus™
Ø  HMDX JAM Plus Wireless Speaker (MSRP $59.99)
o   Exclusive JAM2 feature allows you to pair a second JAM Plus speaker for true stereo sound.
o   Works with Bluetooth enabled devices up to 30’ away 
o   Rechargeable battery provides 4 hours of wireless play 
o   Line-in for connecting non-Bluetooth devices
o   Available in multiple colors

Jam Zzz™
Ø  HMDX JAM Zzz Bluetooth Alarm Clock (MSRP $79.99)
o   Works with all Bluetooth enabled devices up to 30’
o   Universal dock fits any smartphone while streaming audio or charging though the USB port
o   Dual alarm clock with snooze and gradual wake
o   Built in speakerphone & USB port for charging
o   Available in multiple colors

Jam Splash™
Ø  HMDX JAM Splash Wireless Shower Speaker (MSRP $79.99)
o   Water resistant-perfect for the shower or by the pool
o   Built-in speakerphone
o   Rechargeable-up to 6 hours of play
o   Works with all Bluetooth enabled devices up to 30’
o   Available in multiple colors
 Jam Party™
Ø  HMDX JAM Party Wireless Stereo Speaker (MSRP $119.99)
o   4 stereo speakers deliver superior bass performance
o   Works with Bluetooth enabled devices up to 30’ away
o   Rechargeable battery provides for 8 hours of wireless play
o   Retractable handle and flip out stand
o   Line-in for connecting non-Bluetooth devices
o   Includes AC adaptor
o   Available in multiple colors

Jam Fusion™
Ø  HMDX JAM Fusion Bluetooth Stereo Headphones (MSRP $89.99)
o   Connect to a 2nd JAM Fusion and share your music with a friend!
o   Built in speaker for taking phone calls
o   Works with Bluetooth enabled device

After having been disappointed with a previous portable speaker, I was happy to find that the HMDX Jam Bluetooth Wireless speaker really delivered, and how great the overall sound quality of the speaker is, for its small size, and affordable price.  This portable speaker would make for a great gift ideas for teens and college students, or those who love to listen to music on their mobile devices, but lack the sound quality they really need to rock out and truly enjoy their music.  And, with all but one of the above portable speakers retailing for less than $100, you can't go wrong for the price.  Don't comprise on sound quality just because you think that a portable speaker from a so-called name brand is better.  Once you give the HDMX Jam Bluetooth Wireless speaker a try, you will not go back to the old way of listening to your music, which was to turn the volume to the highest setting, and still have to put your ear close to hear the music.  The portable speaker I was sent was able to project the sound in a medium sized room, which I was surprised for -- making this a great speaker for dorm rooms, a teen's bedroom, or even a family rec room.

Click here to learn more about the different portable speakers available from HMDX, and to find the one that is right for your needs, or to give as a gift this holiday season --

Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.
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Fun Stocking Stuffer Idea for Little Ones -- Nuby's Splash 'n' Catch Bathtime Fishing Net -- Review and #Giveaway

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

"Teach your child coordination, development and enjoyment with the Splash ‘N Catch Fishing Set. It features four colorful characters that can be linked together and caught in the net."

Out of all the Nuby bath toys we have received to review, or that I have purchased for the girls, their all-time favorite that they request each and every bath time is the Nuby Splash 'n' Catch Bathtime Fishing Net.  Popular among babies and toddlers, this fun fishing set, with its four colorful rings helps with developmental and coordination skills.  Even though my girls are doing practically the same things -- oftentimes being confused for twins when we are out in the public, Arabella is 15 months younger.  And, when it comes to bathtime you can see the difference in age.  While Savannah loves taking baths and splashing in the water, Bella would rather have you hurry up and be done with it.  She is not a fan of wrinkled skin. :-)  But, whenever I pull the Nuby Splash 'n' Catch Bathtime Fishing Net out of the toy basket in the bathroom, Bella is able to stay for a few minutes longer. 

The girls love to challenge each other and see who can pick up the colorful character rings the fastest.  One throws the four rings into the water near the other, while the other has to wait until they are have all landed to start finishing.  This fun fishing game could go on forever, if we didn't put a limit on tub time.  And, on a few occasions, when the girls asked, I would pull out the fishing net and let them play in their water station outside.  When not in use, the four rings can link together and store nicely inside the mesh net, making storage easy.  And, this bathtime toy is so compact, that you can throw it in the overnight bag for Nana and Papa's house, or take with you on vacation or to the beach during the warm summer months.

But, like I said Bella is 15 months younger than Savannah, and when it comes to teething episodes, these bright BPA-free rings are the first thing she grabs when she is looking to sooth her gums.  :-)

If you have little swimmers in your house who love bathtime and playing with their bath toys, why not pick up the Nuby Splash 'n' Catch Bathtime Fishing Net to put in their stocking this Christmas?  At only $6.99, you can't go wrong with the price, as this toy will become an instant hit and be played with time and time again.

Don't forget to follow Nuby on Facebook and Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube, for news, special offers and more.


The Nuby Splash n' Catch Bathtime Fishing Set is available at the following retailers, for around $6.99:


Thanks to the kind folks at Nuby, one lucky reader will win a Nuby Splash n' Catch Bathtime Fishing Set for their little one to enjoy in the bath.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

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The Rubber Band Craze Looms On -- Make Sure You Have a Kit Under the Tree for Your Young Divas/Stylistas This Holiday Season

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an hones review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Shop Expressions by Almar


If you have tweens/teens (and even girls as young as 5 yrs. old, depending upon their interest), then you have probably seen them come home from school with colorful elastic band rings or bracelets, or ask you to buy them a loom, so that they can make their own rubberband jewlerly, like their friends are making.  This is all the craze right now.  I know as my my two nieces have been sporting neon bracelets and rings they have make with latex-free rubberstands.  You can make these stylish jewelry pieces with or without a loom kit, but when asked, my nieces said it is much easier and quicker to use a loom kit rather than your fingers.  But, I did want to show you a video the folks at Expressions by Almar DIY created to show the different rubberbrand bracelets that you can make their line of latex-free rubberbands.


While this video shows that you can get by with your fingers at a loom, there is also a Expandable Travel Loom available from Expressions by Almar DIY, which you can buy as part of their D.I.Y Rubberband Bracelet Making Kit.  

Look detail for this product

I was recently sent this kit, along with a couple extra bags of rubbebands and S clasps, to try my hand at making my own stylish rubberband bracelets.  I have to say that the video, as well as tweens/teens who demonstrate how to use the loom make it easier than it really it.  It ended up taking me about an hour to really get the whole looping thing.  I found myself getting to the end of the loom and when it came time to take the rubberbands off the pegs I have weaved them through, around and under, they just popped off on me.  

customer image

My niece couldn't help but laugh at my frustration, as she pointed out that I wasn't looping correctly.  You would think with all my years of making loom potholders and friendship bracelets as a kid, that this would come second nature to me.  But, no, I had to work at it...until I eventually figured it out.  Then, I was cranking out neon and even glow-in-dark toe and finger rings, along with matching bracelets with my nieces.  During that time, they thought I was a cool Auntie. :-)  I will take that! 

I ended up making my nieces day, by giving them the Expressions by Almar DIY loom kit and rubberband supplies I was sent to facilitate my review, as they would find more use of it than I would.  Also, Savannah was getting upset that she wasn't old enough to make her own bracelets like her cousins, so I didn't want her to feel bad.  In return, I asked my nieces to make a handful of rings and bracelets for my daughters, so that when all the girls got together, they could sport their DIY rubberband jewelry together.  They obliged, and a few days later showed up with 3 matching sets for each of the girls, and even one for me.  I have to say, while I am not one for jewelry, I am liking the different rubberbands that you can use with the loom.  My nieces just love the scented ones, while Savannah and Bella are into the glow-in-the-dark ones.  But, the girls can all agree that these rubberband jewelry are cool.  And, with the holidays fast approaching, the rubberbands paired with the loom kit would make for a great gift to surprise that young diva/stylista in your life.

1200 Piece Assorted Color Jewelry Making Rubber Bands600 Piece Assorted Colors Jewelry Making Rubber Bands300 Piece Scented Jewelry Making Rubber Bands300 Piece Glitter Jewelry Making Rubber Bands

In addition to the loom kits and rubberband refills, Expressions by Almar also offer nail polish, lip gloss/balms, makeup and even hair accessories, making this your one-stop-shopping site for stocking stuffer and holiday gift ideas for the young divas and princesses in your life.  My mom surprised the girls the other day with the Pinkalicious Cupcake Lip Gloss Set, and now we can't leave the house without the girls putting a dab or two of lip balm on their lips to prevent chapping, and to add an extra glow to their lips. :-)  

Fans of the Pinkalicios books will love the cute cupcake containers the lip balms come in, along with fruity flavors.  My girls can't get enough of these lip balms, and I see them as being hot ticket items for stocking stuffers this holiday season -- so, if you see them in store, make sure you pick up before are all gone. :-)

So, what are you waiting for?  Head on over to the Expression by Almar online store today and pick up fun gift sets and stock stuffers for that special girl in your life.  Right now, many of their products including their refill rubberbands are on sale, along with FREE Shipping in the USA.

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an hones review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.
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Gift Ideas for Tea Lovers -- The Libre Loose Leaf on the Go Tea Glass Collection -- Review and #Giveaway

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

The Libre Tea Glass Collection

"A beautiful and stylish solution for loose leaf ‘on the go’ – the Libre tea glass – a durable  loose leaf, glass tea infuser.

It’s the perfect tea gift for your tea lovin’ friends and family – they will appreciate a relaxing tea moment anywhere, anytime with their practical travel tea mug. Give a gift today they’ll appreciate every day. Ship it now Canada, USA and now local UK shipping!

Beautiful and convenient, the Libre glass ‘n poly styles enjoy -

  • a glass interior and durable poly exterior  - keeps tea hot yet not too hot to cold – in fact, a great hand-warmer
  • a removable stainless-steel filter that keeps tea leaves in the glass, out of your mouth and is removable for easy cleaning
  • on the go ease - see Libre ‘how to’  video here for 2 easy ways to enjoy tea moments ‘on the go’ and all can be used without the filter for 3 ways to use
Choose the Libre glass’n poly Original (9 oz), Large (14 oz) or Mug (10 oz) – - carry it in your backpack or purse and know you are only seconds away from a blissful tea moment. Send one to CanadaUSA or local UK shipping today!

In the car, on a hike, on your bike, at the office, at a yoga class; wherever you happen to be, enjoy your favorite loose leaf tea in  your Libre tea infuser. Libre™ loose leaf tea glasses are specifically designed for tea ‘on-the-go’ with a durable poly exterior.  The stainless steel filter keeps the tea leaves away from your mouth and is easy to remove for quick access and easy cleaning when adding or emptying loose leaf tea.  The glass ‘n poly Libre styles are all a BPA-free experience for your tea."


My Thoughts:

Ever since being diagnosed and treated for cancer, I have been looking for ways to improve my healthy, through exercise and the foods that I eat.  During treatment, I was turned onto loose leaf teas, and learned that they leave a small Eco-footprint, in addition to all the many health benefits teas like green tea have to offer. 

While I love my cup of Jo in the AM as a pick me up, I find myself reaching for the loose tea containers on mornings, and even evenings when it is cold outside.  There is something about a freshly brewed cup of tea made from loose leaf tea that helps me relax. 

But, being a busy mom on the go, when I have a craving for tea in the AM, I usually had to either make a quick cup with a tea bag and throw in a Thermos, or make and put in the refrigerator, to return to and warm upon arriving home.  It was always my luck that the instances that I took the brewed tea in the Thermos that the tea bag would open during the hustle and bustle of trying to get everything and everyone ready, and I would find myself sipping on the now lukewarm tea with bits of tea in it -- not enjoyable at all.  


"The Libre glass'n poly Travel Tea Mug Infuser (10 oz.) with a convenient handle has a health-conscious glass interior for fresh taste and a durable polycarbonate exterior for ‘on the go’ durability. The stainless steel tea filter is surrounded by BPA-free polypropylene as is the lid interior. It can be used 2 ways to brew and travel with loose leaf tea – tea in the tea glass or tea on top of the twist off filter."

It wasn't until I recently received the Libre 10 oz. Loose Leaf On the Go Travel Mug (currently on sale for only $24.95), that I could finally start enjoying freshly brewed loose leaf tea on the go, without the worry of swallowing tea pieces.  Last year, I shared my thoughts on the Libre Original, and still use this tea infuser to this day.  But, I have always wanted to grab and go travel mug of sorts to bring my freshly brewed teas in. 

Already being familiar with how the Libre tea infusers work, it was easy for me to brew up my first cup of loose tea green tea to enjoy.  Here is a quick video from the Libre Tea website that shows how you use their products to brew loose leaf tea --

Ever since receiving the Libre Loose Leaf On the Go Tea Mug for review, I find myself drinking more and more tea, as opposed to coffee, which is great, as I am not suffering from caffeine headaches or bad caffeine withdrawals if I don't got a cup of hot Jo every morning.  And, you know what, I feel better together, as I know that the green tea is great for your health.

When it comes to finding just the right gift for that hard to shop for person on your holiday list this year, why not consider picking them up the Libre Travel Tea Mug Infuser, or another of the Libre Tea styles, that will brew up a fresh, filtered cup of loose leaf tea each and every time?  Click here to learn more about the different Libre Tea styles available, as well as more about the company --

Don't forget to follow Libre Tea on Facebook and Twitter, as well as sign up for their newsletter, to stay up-to-date on news, blog posts and special offers and giveaways.

You can connect with Libre on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for their newsletter.

-- Buy Now and Save w/ These Black Friday Promotions --

Save 15% off all Libres and
$10 off the 6 Pak Gift Sets

Canada and United States -- Orders over $75 have FREE Shipping

United Kingdom -- Orders over £50 have FREE Shipping 


Thanks to the kind folks at Libre, one lucky reader will win a 10 oz. Libre Loose Leaf on the Go Tea Travel Mug, to enjoy for themselves, or surprise that special tea lover in your life this holiday season.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

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NOW That’s What I Call Music! Presents Today’s Biggest Hits on ‘NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 48’ (Review w/ Cute Video)

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

The world's best-selling, multi-artist album series, NOW That's What I Call Music!, has gathered today's biggest hits for 'NOW That's What I Call Music! Vol. 48,' to be released Monday, November 11. (Graphic: Business Wire)  

"The world’s best-selling, multi-artist album series, NOW That’s What I Call Music!, has gathered today’s biggest hits for NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 48, to be released Monday, November 11. NOW 48 will be available on CD and for download purchase from all major digital service providers. 

NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 48 features 16 major current hits from today’s hottest artists, including Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell, Lady Gaga, Avicii, Bruno Mars, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift featuring Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Sara Bareilles, Lana Del Rey, Daft Punk, Paramore, AWOLNATION, and Luke Bryan, plus four free up-and-coming “NOW What’s Next” New Music Preview tracks. 

The "NOW What's Next" bonus track program featured on each numeric NOW release continues to preview hot new artists with tomorrow's biggest hits. NOW 48 showcases up and coming tracks from New Politics, Basic Vacation, Wallpaper, and The Royal Concept. 

NOW That’s What I Call Music! launched its first-ever U.S. streaming initiative with the July debut of a dynamic NOW Spotify playlist app. The app allows music fans across the U.S. to stream and share NOW-curated and user-customized playlists featuring major hits spanning the past three decades. 

The NOW That’s What I Call Music! series is a joint venture from Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 48 will be distributed by Universal Music Group. NOW and NOW That’s What I Call Music! are registered trademarks of Universal Music Group and its affiliates. 

Following 15 years of multi-platinum international success, the NOW That’s What I Call Music! series debuted in the U.S. in 1998. The series has generated sales exceeding 200 million albums worldwide, including more than 89 million copies in the U.S. Every album in NOW’s numeric U.S. series has reached Billboard’s Top 10, and 16 of the numbered editions have reached #1, second only to The Beatles in chart history. "


NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 48 Track List: [CD; digital]
1. KATY PERRY   Roar
2. ROBIN THICKE featuring T.I. and Pharrell
Blurred Lines
Take Back The Night
Summertime Sadness (Cedric Gervais Remix Edit)
Get Lucky
Love Somebody
Wake Me Up
We Can’t Stop
Slow Down
Everything Has Changed
Still Into You
That’s My Kind Of Night 
BONUS TRACKS: NOW presents WHAT’S NEXT! New Music Preview
I Believe
Drunken Hearts
On Our Way

My Thoughts:

It is always nice when we can go for a car ride and listen to music that the whole family enjoys.  But, when you have little ones, that usually means kid songs.  Yes, they are fun to sing 1-2 times, but when the girls are asking for it 6-7 times in one car ride, you can find yourself asking "Are we there yet?" just so that you can shut the radio off. :-)  But, recently, the girls have become fans of some of the songs my husband and I love to listen to.  I find it relaxing to turn the radio on or pop in a CD when I am preparing dinner.  And, on a few occasions when I am listening to music while cooking, the girls will be in the living room across the hall playing, and listening along.  As a result, they have become fast fans of Katy Perry and her new hit song, "Roar," as well as Avicci's smash hit, "Wake Me Up."  They love these songs so much, that they continue to ask me to play the music videos on the television and can sing both songs word for word.

I was planning to share a more in-depth review of this recent "NOW That's What I Call Music! Vol. 48," but I thought if you follow my blog, or are fans of this best-selling, multi-artist album series, then you probably already know how great this and the other "NOW That's What I Call Music" CD's are.  Just look at the play list above, and you will see the top hit songs that are in full rotation on the radio today.  But, instead, I thought I would share a fun video I took of the girls the other day, rocking out to Katy Perry's Roar, as we drove around checking out the holiday lights.  I like how I caught Arabella off guard, and she got camera shy at the end. :-)

Enjoy...and Happy Thanksgiving!

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

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The Perfect Boxed Sets for the Holiday Season from Universal Music Enterprises

"With the holiday gift-giving season rapidly approaching, there is no better present then the timeless gift of music and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) has something for everyone during this joyous time of the year. From Verve Records’ vast jazz catalog to The Who’s defining, break-though concept album Tommy, UMe provides the perfect soundtrack for your lasting holiday memories. 

Live At The Academy Of Music 1971 presents the best of the band’s four legendary year-end concerts, including the complete New Year’s Eve set – 4CD+DVD collection builds on the band’s ‘Rock Of Ages’ concert classic, unearthing much more from the acclaimed shows in new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes and also includes a deluxe, 48-page hardbound book with previously unseen photos, a reproduction of Rolling Stone’s original Rock Of Ages review by magazine co-founder Ralph J. Gleason, an essay by The Band’s Robbie Robertson, and appreciations of The Band and the set’s recordings by Mumford & Sons and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. 

The Beach Boys’ new career-spanning Made In California, caps the legendary band’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. Featuring more than seven and a half hours of music on six CDs, Made In California boasts more than 60 previously unreleased recordings. The deluxe set is presented in a high school annual-inspired hardbound book with personal recollections from the band’s members, replicated classic artwork and memorabilia, photos from the band’s archive, and handwritten yearbook-style inscriptions from Beach Boys Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks. The collection was recently praised by TIME Magazine as one of the “summer’s best archival releases.” 

The 5-CD/1-Blu-Ray™ disc box set Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength: The 1974/1975 Recordings is beautifully housed in a 60-page book and captures a full year’s worth of recordings, from April 1974 to June 1975. Featured are 88 remastered, remixed, rare unreleased and live recordings, including session outtakes, from his landmark studio albums 461 Ocean Boulevard and There's One In Every Crowd, and his legendary live album E.C. Was Here. Also included is a new 5.1 Surround Sound mix of 461 Ocean Boulevard and original quadrophonic mixes of two milestone releases. 461 Ocean Boulevard and There's One In Every Crowd. The original 3 albums will also be released separately as a 3-LP set

John Mellencamp 1978 – 2012, is a uniquely comprehensive boxed set collection covering the legendary singer/songwriter’s principal studio albums. Released by Universal Music Enterprises on December 10, 2013, this collection consists of a total of 19 CDs originally released over a recording career that spans 35 years and, for the first time, combines in one package, albums Mellencamp recorded as John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp and John Mellencamp for Polygram, Universal, Sony and Concord-affiliated labels. The set contains a total of 223 tracks and includes such mythic album titles as American Fool, Lonesome Jubilee, Scarecrow, Cuttin’ Heads and the more recent Life, Death Love and Freedom and No Better Than This. Thirteen of the albums in the collection were RIAA®-certified as Gold, Platinum or Multiplatinum winners while ten of the albums achieved Top Ten status on Billboard’s Top 100 Album Chart. Of special note is the fact that the collection includes the long out-of-print original soundtrack album to Falling From Grace, the Mellencamp-directed film that was a collaboration with noted author Larry McMurtry. That disc includes tracks by Mellencamp, Dwight Yoakam, Nanci Griffith, Joe Ely, James McMurtry and John Prine.

Universal Music Enterprises commemorates the 20th anniversary of the unwitting swansong of the single most influential artist of the 1990s with a multi-format release that spreads more than 70 remastered, remixed, rare, unreleased and live recordings over configurations ranging from a 3-CD/1-DVD Super Deluxe Edition to a standard digital/CD remaster of the original album. Material exclusive to the various versions of the In Utero 20th Anniversary reissue includes a veritable treasure trove of never-before-heard demos, B-sides and compilation tracks. 

Frank Sinatra’s groundbreaking and highly successful album Duets was originally released in November 1993, bringing together an array of global superstars, including Charles Aznavour, Anita Baker, Tony Bennett, Bono, Natalie Cole, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Kenny G, Julio Iglesias, Liza Minnelli, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, and Luther Vandross for an album of standards that included many songs instantly associated with the Chairman of the Board. 

To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the groundbreaking, multi-platinum selling album, Capitol/Universal Music will release Frank Sinatra: Sinatra Duets - Twentieth Anniversary, on November 18, 2013, bringing together the original Duets and the follow-up Duets II with special extras such as never-before- released recordings. Available in three editions: super deluxe box set, 2-cd deluxe edition, and best of duets single disc collection, the Chairman’s styling is perfect for every special occasion. 

The iconic alternative band releases four separate versions, all fully remastered, of their platinum-selling 1996 box set THE AEROPLANE FLIES HIGH: 6-CD +1 DVD; 5-LPs and Deluxe Digital and Standard Digital editions. These new limited edition box sets of THE AEROPLANE FLIES HIGH feature the original 33 track version—remastered by Bob Ludwig—and expanded to 104 tracks (90 audio and 14 audio-visual) encompassing unreleased demos, alternative versions and live recordings. In addition to expanded versions of Aeroplane’s original 5 discs, a 6th disc contains live recordings from the 1996 Mellon Collie tour, while the DVD content is taken from a July, 4 1997, performance in Belfort, France. Included is a 46-page book with liner notes, plus extensive track-by-track notes by The Smashing Pumpkins founder-singer-songwriter-guitarist Billy Corgan—for the original release’s 33 tracks. 

In March 1983, Tears For Fears released their influential synth-pop debut, The Hurting. The critical acclaim and commercial success that greeted the album was the culmination of 18 months of hard work. The original album, featuring “Change,” “Mad World” and “Memories Fade,” has been digitally remastered and expanded with live sessions, B-sides and remixes for new 3CD/DVD boxed set, 2CD and digital packages. 

The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat is one of the most confrontational and inspirational second albums ever made by a rock band. Recorded in a matter of days at the end of the summer of 1967, a season in which everything seemed possible in rock and much of it happened at now-mythic speed, White Light/White Heat is an album that reeks of the gritty NY street life and could only have been made in New York, by one band. The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, is a three-disc, 30-track set featuring both the original stereo and mono releases, completely remastered, with bonus tracks including alternate versions, unreleased outtakes, John Cale's last studio sessions with the band and the official release of their complete show at The Gymnasium in New York recorded on April 30, 1967 which includes 5 previously unreleased performances and culled from John Cale’s personal copy. 

The Complete Motown Singles, an acclaimed, multi-disc series covering the company’s wide-ranging and massively successful output from 1959-1972, comes to its conclusion with the release of Volume 12B, a 5-disc set of the company’s output from the last half of 1972. This final volume is another stunning release, with 100 remastered tracks, several of them rare and unreleased, along with a 130-page booklet that tells the story of Motown finding a path from its original Hitsville headquarters in Detroit to the sun and surf of Los Angeles. The book also includes two essays - a nostalgic and emotional reminiscence by original Four Top Abdul "Duke" Fakir, and part two of the Detroit-to-L.A. overview by Susan Whitall, a longtime writer for The Detroit News. There are dozens of rare photos, and the detailed track-by-track annotations by Grammy®-nominated Bill Dahl and co-producers Keith Hughes and Harry Weinger. 

The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 12B: 1972 includes such well-known hits from acts like the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson as well as rare tracks from Valerie Simpson, the MoWest label roster and the debut of Jermaine Jackson as a solo act. 

Verve: The Sound Of America: The Singles Collection

Released on November 18, 2013, Verve – The Sound Of America – The Singles Collection is a 5-CD collection featuring 100 singles from the Verve catalog, over 20 of which have been out of print for years, all packaged in a stylish two-part, lift-off box with a 48-page booklet and extensive liner notes. Included are tracks from jazz legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Smith, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins and Astrud Gilberto. 

TOMMY, The Who’s defining, breakthrough concept album – a full-blown rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind boy that launched the band to international superstardom – is to be released on November 12, 2013, as a two-disc Deluxe and a four-disc Super Deluxe edition, both featuring a 2013 remaster of the original album and a full, unreleased live bootleg of TOMMY. In addition, the Super Deluxe also includes 20 unreleased demos, a hi-fidelity 5.1 mix and a hardback, 80-page full color book."
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