Books reviewed prior on this site prior to March 2019 were provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. Reviews beginning March 2019 come from a variety of sources: advanced copies, library loans, and my own purchases. All reviews are my honest opinions.

March 31, 2016

Back in the Saddle {Ruth Logan Herne}

back in the saddle ruth logan herne
It’s been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray’s Glen, Washington. He’s broke, but not broken, and it’s time to check in with his ailing father, and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn’t expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest— a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there’s more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he’s determined to find out what she’s hiding...and why. 

Colt’s return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam’s right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn’t thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch’s contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray’s Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor. And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district’s wealth and power—or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?

My Thoughts:
It is rare to find me crying over a book, but a certain scene between a father and a son towards the end of this one had tears streaming down my face.

Colt is the son who left his family behind for the wealth of Wall Street. His mother died when he was only four years old, and his father pretty much failed at the single parent thing. It is no surprise Colt grew up with some emotional issues that left him wanting to prove something to himself and his family. Making a name on Wall Street was his answer to that desire – until it all came crashing down around him. As he arrives home to the Double S Ranch, we see a man who is broken, but unwilling to admit it to himself or anyone else. He is determined to see to his father, make a little money to tide him over, and get out of town. But what he finds at home changes everything.

Colt’s father, Sam, has been a rough man all his adult life. After his wife had died, he failed miserably at parenting and at trying again for love. His actions left him with three emotionally broken sons, a huge ranch, lots of money and an entire town that pretty much hates him. The one person who seems to care anything about him is the mysterious house manager, Angelina. Angelina loves God and is not afraid to tell everyone about his goodness. It is through Angelina that Sam finds his way back to God. Sam gives up his sinful lifestyle and gets to work trying to right all the wrongs of his past.

As Colt forms a relationship with the people on the ranch and the people of the town, we slowly see him start to change. This change turns Colt into someone who can be trusted, and maybe even loved by those around him. He makes some remarkable decisions after a town tragedy and shows he is ready to take the next steps in bettering his life as well.

This book is filled with so much wonderful. We see the lost son finally come home. We see Christ working through a man who needs redemption. And we see God give second chances to his people. Of course, we also get some very happy endings and a longing for the next book in the series.

Ruth Logan Herne loves Charlie Brown Christmas trees, rooting for the underdog and people who go the distance while others see the path as too long or broken! She loves God, chocolate, writing, dogs and is blessed by a sprawling family, oodles of grandkids and a sweet old farmhouse in constant need of work. She's sure that clean rooms are over-rated, snakes and possums should mind their own business and buy their own farm and puppies and kittens and babies are about the cutest things on Earth. A "pull-up-your-big-girl-panties-and-move-on" kind of gal, she is blessed to be married to her high school sweetheart (although it wasn't as if THEY WERE KNOCKING DOWN THE DOOR to challenge him for her!!!), work with young families who allow her to exploit their sweet children on blogs, and rock babies on a regular basis. An author for Love Inspired Books and Summerside Press, she lives in upstate New York.

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March 28, 2016

Burning Proof {Janice Cantore}

burning proof janice cantore
After months of investigating the brutal homicide of a young girl, Detective Abby Hart finally has the evidence she needs. But when the arrest goes terribly wrong, Abby begins to doubt her future as a police officer. As she wrestles with conflicting emotions, old questions about the fire that took her parents’ lives come back to haunt her.

“There is proof.” PI Luke Murphy can’t stop thinking about what Abby’s former partner, Asa Foster, mumbled just before he died. When he uncovers a clue to the murder of Abby’s parents and his uncle, he’s reluctant to tell Abby, despite his growing feelings for the beautiful detective.

A decade-old abduction case brings Luke and Abby together, but will his secret tear them apart?

My Thoughts:
Since I finished Drawing Fire (the first book in this series), I have been looking forward to Burning Proof. Abby and Luke were left with so many unfinished stories in the last book, and I could not wait to catch back up with them.

This book begins right where the first one left off. Abby and Luke seem to have found the answers they were looking for in the deaths of Abby’s parents and Luke’s uncle, but something hinted that they may not have the entire story. But the two of them do their best to move on with their separate lives.

Not long into this book, Abby is involved in a very unfortunate event in her career and finds herself taking some time off. It is during this time off she can truly reflect on her career, her life, and her relationships. It is also during this time off we realize the answers may not have been as wrapped up as we thought in the deaths of her parents.

Luke is also moving on with his life and has taken on a cold case with his friend Woody. But as his case takes some interesting turns, he also realizes the case of his uncle’s death is not completely wrapped up.

Of course, Abby and Luke find themselves working together once again and searching for answers they thought they would not have to find. This book finds Luke’s cold case and the deaths of their loved ones intertwined in a way I never saw coming. And without any spoilers, we also get to see Abby finally make up her mind about her relationship with Ethan, her fiancĂ©.

There are still some loose ends in Abby and Luke’s life, and I am so looking forward to book three to see what the future holds for these characters. I have grown very attached to them, and I have my ideas of a perfect ending to their story.

A former Long Beach, California, police officer of twenty-two years, Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, including patrol, administration, juvenile investigations, and training. She’s always enjoyed writing and published two short articles on faith at work for Cop and Christ and Today’s Christian Woman before tackling novels. A few years ago, she retired to a house in the mountains of Southern California, where she lives with three Labrador retrievers, Jake, Maggie, and Abbie. Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Accused is the first book in the Pacific Coast Justice series, featuring Carly Edwards. Janice also authored the Brinna’s Heart series, which includes The Kevlar Heart and A Heart of Justice. Visit Janice’s website at and connect with her on Facebook.

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March 21, 2016

Like Never Before {Melissa Tagg}

like never before melissa tagg
Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley's haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the small-town paper is in danger of closing. Her one hope: A lead on an intriguing story that just might impress the new publisher...if only she knew who he was.

After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker now has the chance of a lifetime--a spot on a presidential campaign. But his plans are interrupted when he finds out he's inherited his hometown newspaper. He travels home intent on selling the paper and spending some much-needed time with his young daughter before making the leap into national politics.

But instead of a quick sale and peaceful break from his hectic career, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She's scrappy, but wounded. He's dependable, but lost. They may butt heads more than expected, but a series of leads on Maple Valley's quirky unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.

My Thoughts:
The Walker family is back! I fell in love with the Walker family in the previous two books in this series and was so excited to get back to Maple Valley and see how everyone was doing. This book focuses on Logan – big-time single dad living in California.

This book opens with Maple Valley’s newspaper editor trying to lure Logan back to Maple Valley. It only took about two paragraphs for me to know I liked Amelia. She seems like a determined woman ready to fight for the thing she wants – her newspaper. Her heart belongs to Maple Valley and the people in the town, and she knows keeping the newspaper in town is what is best for everyone. She is willing to do whatever it takes to hold on to the local paper, and I liked her willingness to be completely in love with Logan without ever having met him.

And then there’s Logan. We know from previous books that Logan is a single dad to a  toddler following a car wreck that took his wife’s life. Logan holds so much guilt about the events surrounding his wife’s death, and as this story progresses, we get to see just how that guilt has affected him. Logan has a nice job, and an opportunity to move into one of the most important jobs of his career. But top priority in his life is his daughter. There is something about a daddy-daughter bond that tugs at my heart, and this relationship is no different.

Logan gets some pretty shocking news that sends him and his daughter back to Maple Valley for a temporary visit. But once they arrive in town it seems like all the powers of the world are trying to convince Logan to stay in town. His relationship with his daughter seems to change for the better, and his relationship with Amelia becomes one I couldn’t stop reading. The chemistry between the two of them is intense and makes for an amazing read.

The thing that prevails in this book is God getting His way. Logan does everything in his power to live the life he believes is best for him. Amelia does everything in her power to hold on to her newspaper and the people of Maple Valley. But God has bigger and better dreams for both of them, and watching God redirect their lives into His plan was such a wonderful story.

I can’t wait for the Walker family to return in the next book in this series. Put this one on your reading list. It can be read as a stand-alone, but the Walker family is so amazing you are going to want to read the others as well.

Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant-writer and total Iowa girl. She’s also a multi-published novelist. Her latest book, Like Never Before, was named by Publisher’s Weekly to their spring 2016 “Religion and Spirituality” Top 10 list. Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as retreats and workshops. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever–not that she’s biased–watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at and on Facebook and Instagram.

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March 17, 2016

I Want It All {Gwen Smith}

i want it all gwen smith
Gwen Smith knows how easy it is to dismiss God’s plans with the thoughts, I can’t make a big difference for God because I’m just an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. Yet God created us to join Him in doing amazing work in the world. He created us to live with abundant joy, courage, and influence. But not the joy, courage, and influence of the world. He offers His grace for each failure, His love that shatters hate, His peace that soothes the turmoil, His comfort, guidance, wisdom, rest, power, and significance. Every blessing He has for us is ours for the taking.

I Want It All will ignite a fire in your heart to experience more faith, more power, and more impact. More of Jesus. All of Jesus. Everything that God has for you.

My Thoughts:
We live in a world where the ultimate goal is always to have more than the other person. Better job, bigger house, nicer cars, newer clothes, smarter kids, the list goes on and on. It seems we are always racing towards being the best of the best, and many times we take no regard to what we leave behind in the process.

But that is what our lives were intended for? I think not. God wants us to work towards being the best for Him. Living our lives in a race to always love Him and live for Him.

In this book, Gwen Smith does an amazing job of reminding us what race we should be running – the one toward God. She not only uses real-life stories to illustrate her points, but she brings us back to God’s word and how it relates to how our lives should look. She reminds us that we can have everything this world has to offer, but without God we have nothing.

I enjoyed the reflection time at the end of each chapter and the verse references to encourage readers to study more on the points in the book. This book will change your way of thinking, and encourage you to work harder at living a life full of God’s love and His plan for his life. Put this one in your reading stack.

Gwen Smith is an author and volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her college honey, Brad, for 23 years. They are tired parents to three competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at to connect and be encouraged, and her goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women's events everywhere, and she is a co-founder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.

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March 16, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: I Am - 40 Reasons to Trust God {Giveaway}

i am 40 reasons to trust god
Creator, Comforter, Healer, Friend God’s names tell us who He is, what He is like, and what He does. This beautiful book covers 40 of the Bible s many names and descriptive titles for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Jehovah, Jireh, The Lord, My Shepherd, Immanuel, Rabbi, I Am

Through Bible stories, short devotions, and prayers, children discover the meaning of each name and how it relates to their lives. As they develop an understanding of God s character and His love for them, children will grow to know, love, and trust the great I Am more and more.

Those who know your name put their trust in you. Psalm 9:10

My Thoughts:
It can be confusing with all the different names and references to God throughout the Bible. I’ve had my daughter ask me about them before, and I never really had a good answer for it. It seemed irreverent to tell her they were nicknames, but could never come up with a good explanation I thought she would understand.

This book is perfect for this! Through this book, kids (and adults) are guided through 40 different names and references to God throughout the Bible. With each name or reference, the accompanying Bible story is told in age appropriate language. At the end of each story, further Bible references are given for more reading. There is always a “What’s Next” section that gives a little preview of what happened after the story.

While this book is marketed towards children, it is also a great book for adults. Reading through many of the stories gave me better insights into the meanings of some stories and the purposes of the names and references to God.

Tommy Nelson has also created a great matching game and printable chart to help your kids learn all the names and references. You can download it by clicking here.

Born in Detroit and raised in Southern California, Diane Stortz has lived in Cincinnati, OH, since graduating from Arizona State University with a BA in journalism. For ten years she led the book group at Standard Publishing as editorial director.

Diane now runs Izzy's Office, where she edits books and writes for children and adults. Her goal: encouraging you to read, learn, love, and live God's Word, the Bible.

Izzy's Office is named for Diane's first house rabbit, Isabella. A petite Dutch rabbit named Pepe ruled the office for six years too. He liked to nudge her feet for attention when she was at her computer and (he thought) ignoring him.

Diane is married and has two married daughters and three grandsons. These days Diane devotes time to baby care rather than bunny care. Two baby boys joined the family this year!

When she's not writing or editing, Diane enjoys walking, gardening, and planning her next trip to visit her grandkids. 


One of my readers is going to win this amazing book. Just use the giveaway widget below to submit your email address. It’s that simple! I’ll select a winner next Wednesday (March 23) at 9:00 pm CST. I’ll contact the winner to get your information!

And don’t forget to follow Tommy Nelson to learn all about the great books and resources they have available. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Good luck!

March 14, 2016

Hope Unfolding {Becky Thompson}

hope unfolding becky thompson sissortail silk
God’s love, plans, and promises for you are forever unfolding.
 I get it, Momma. I totally get it.

Every day you wake up and try your very best. You love, give, and pour out your life for the ones who call you Momma. But no matter how much you offer, there are still days you feel as though you come up short. You worry, Am I loving these babies enough? Is this ever going to get easier? Why does it seem like I am the only one who cannot balance it all? 

Sometimes, we just need hope (and maybe a long uninterrupted nap). We need someone to help tune our hearts to the voice of the Father and to remind us that He has not forgotten about us.

In Hope Unfolding, Becky Thompson is a friend who reminds you that you aren’t alone and that God is still writing your story. She guides you to encounter the Truth of God’s presence that not only fuels you with strength but also a fresh confidence. And beyond gaining faith that tomorrow could be different, you find hope and purpose where you are standing today.

My Thoughts:
I have read Becky’s blog on several occasions. I have fallen in love with her Facebook devotionals. And I think her Instagram account is one of the most honest places on earth. So to say I was excited about this book coming out is a bit of an understatement. I had high hopes for it, and could not wait to get to on my reading list.

Is it a great book? Yes!
Is it full of encouragement for moms? Yes!
Did it live up to my expectations? No, unfortunately

This book is full of stories from Becky’s life, intertwined with devotional type messages and words of encouragement based on scripture. It is obvious Becky has poured out her heart and soul in the words of this book and the lives they will touch. Through the words, I can hear Becky talking and encouraging moms in every season of their life. But I feel the editors really messed this book up.

The stories seem to jump around very abruptly. Just as you are getting into a personal story, it stops and hops into a devotional. Just as you are beginning to feel moved, you are back to another story that does not seem like it flows with the previous devotional. This pattern returns time and time again through this book and made it very difficult for me to completely connect with the message being delivered.

I would have loved to see the stories completed, or the topics tied to the encouragement being provided in each chapter. I know Becky has a huge heart for moms and a desire to encourage us through all our walks of life. I just felt this book was a little too unorganized to really drive that message.

Becky Thompson began blogging under the name Scissortail SILK, quickly drawing a global audience of millions. A self-professed city girl, Becky is a recent transplant to northwest Oklahoma, where she lives with her husband, Jared, their three young children, and whatever critters wander in from the wheat field behind their house. You can connect with Becky online at or join her and the thousands of other grace-filled women who are a part of the Scissortail SILK community on Facebook.

March 10, 2016

The Goodbye Bride {Denise Hunter}

the goodbye bride denise hunter
She only remembers loving him. But he can’t forget the way she left.

Following a concussion, Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancĂ© Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

It’s taken Zac months to move on after Lucy left him with no explanation. He’s thrown himself into his family’s farm and his restaurant business in Summer Harbor. Now Lucy’s back, vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. She needs his help putting the pieces together, but letting her back into his life is a risk—and the stakes are high. If he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life. But if her memory returns he’ll lose her all over again.

My Thoughts:
I think I fall in love with every single couple Denise Hunter brings to life. I loved Beau and Eden’s story in the first book of this series, and I adore Lucy and Zac in this one.

Zac had his heart broken by Lucy. He was head-over-heels in love and ready to walk down the aisle – until she disappeared. We learn from the early chapters of this book just how hurt Zac was by Lucy’s decision to run away before the wedding. It is apparent Zac’s heart was changed and his desire to love completely taken away. Of course, Beau and Riley (Zac’s brothers) are protective of Zac and willing to do whatever it takes to protect their brother. As Lucy begins to reappear in Zac’s life I found myself initially wishing she would go away to avoid hurting him again.

Lucky for Lucy, I eventually fell in love with her too. When this story begins, I felt she was flaky and cold-hearted. Yes, she has an injury – and a small piece of me felt sorry for her – but I was certain all she was going to do was break Zac’s heart again.

As the story progresses we learn a lot about Lucy and her past. We also learn the real reason she ran before she and Zac were married. Learning her story changed my heart for her and suddenly I was hoping these two would get their happy ending.

I am not going to tell you how this one ends (although I am sure you romance fans can figure it out), but I am going to tell you it is a book worth putting on your reading list. It is part of this series, but can be read alone. However, you will probably want to read the first book because it is very good as well.

Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of 20 novels, including Dancing with Fireflies and Convenient Groom. 

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

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March 8, 2016

The Hearts We Mend {Kathryn Springer}

the hears we mend kathryn springer
For young widow Evie Bennett, moving forward will mean deciding what to leave behind . . . and what to keep.

Widowed at the age of twenty-five when her firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, Evie Bennett has spent the last thirteen years raising their son, Cody, in the close-knit community of Banister Falls. As the women’s ministry director of her church, Evie encourages women to boldly pursue God’s plan for their future . . . while she is content with her memories of the past. But Evie’s well-ordered life begins to change when she meets Jack Vale.

As Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe and predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems in the community . . . but will Evie open her heart to love again?

Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

My Thoughts:
When I read The Dandelion Field (first book in Banister Falls series), I found characters I really liked. With this book, I fell completely in love with those characters.

This book picks up soon after the first finishes. Evie is working on the final details of Cody’s wedding, and preparing herself for an empty home. She has her job she loves at the church and the community of Banister Falls still doing their part to care for the widow. She still loves Max and still clings to his memory and her life as a widow. Until she meets Jack.

We remember Jack as the grungy man with the baseball bat from the first book. In this book, he appears as the temporary custodian at Evie’s church. With the two of them suddenly thrown together it is clear they are going to form a relationship. But life just isn’t that easy, huh?

Jack lives in a bad part of town and he is committed to caring for his family – including his druggy brother and family. We learn quickly that Jack is a man of God, but we also realize he is ashamed of his living situation, his background, and his family.

Jack and Evie are both reluctant to allow themselves to work towards a relationship. Evie is so sure she must cling to Max’s memory forever she cannot imagine herself ever loving anyone else. Jack is so sure someone like Evie would run as soon as they learn about his background and family he will not pursue the relationship either. But of course, God is going to make happen what needs to happen!

Through this story, we get to see Evie and Jack turn to God for their own problems and their own desires. We get to see each character come to terms with their past and willingly open up about their fears and their hopes for the future. We get to see God work in each of their lives to change their attitude, their outlook on life, and their desire to be in a relationship. This is truly a story of love, redemption, and God’s perfect work.

And as a bonus, we get to see Cody be an amazing husband. I had high hopes for the kid in the first book and it was great to see him doing positive things with his life and his family.

Kathryn Springer, winner of the 2007 Write Touch Reader’s Award (long contemporary), grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child, she spent many hours sitting at her mother’s typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books – which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own.

After a number of busy years, when she married her college sweetheart and became a stay-at-home mom, Kathryn rediscovered her love for writing. An unexpected snow day from school became the inspiration for a short story, which she submitted to Brio magazine. She went on to publish over a dozen more short stories for Brio, but it wasn’t until her youngest child started school that she decided to pursue her dream to write a novel. In August 2004, her Love Inspired® debut novel, Tested by Fire, was published.

Encouraging women in their faith journey is the reason Kathryn loves to write inspirational fiction. She hosts a women’s Bible study in her home and volunteers in a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) ministry. When she isn’t at the computer, you’ll find her curled up with a good book, spending time with family and friends or walking on the trails near her country home.

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March 5, 2016

Book Giveaway: If I Run/Kissed By a Cowboy

It's a beautiful weekend in Arkansas, and I'm excited to have two books up for grabs for my readers.

book giveaway

I loved both of these books so much, and I know you are going to love them as well. You can read my review for If I Run by clicking here, and my review for Kissed By a Cowboy by clicking here.

Use the widget below to enter. I'll draw one winner for each book on Friday, March 11th. Good luck!

March 3, 2016

Breaking Busy {Alli Worthington}

breaking busy alli worthington
Have you ever felt like a fraud or failure as you struggle to find balance in life? Do you find yourself juggling everything in mediocrity and feeling like you’re succeeding at very little? In her no-nonsense way, Alli Worthington tackles the big questions about finding happiness and one’s God-given purpose.

My Thoughts:
I opened this book to begin reading and was immediately drawn into a story that had me laughing aloud. It is this kind of writing style throughout this book that makes it hard to put it down.

Alli Worthington created a blogging empire. She had it all and simply walked away. Through this book Alli takes us on her journey of building the empire, walking away, and the path God sent her on in the years to come. She talks about her struggle with seeking things outside of God’s will in her life and the life events that brought her back to the feet of Jesus.

Alli brings some very real-life examples to light to illustrate just how busy we all are – whether we want to admit it or not. She also brings very practical tips for getting out of the crazy of busy and understanding that we are enough in God’s eyes.

I thought this book was very well written and very easy to read. I loved Alli’s writing style and her raw honesty through many parts of her illustrations. I think this is an excellent book for anyone who has fallen into the trap of busy, as well as those who have yet to realize just how busy their life is. It has a permanent spot on my bookshelf, as I am sure I will need to reference it in the years to come.

Alli Worthington is an author, speaker, blogger, and the Executive Director of Propel Women. Her goal is to help women live the life they were created to live. Alli co-founded BlissDom Events and has helped individuals, small business owners and Fortune 500 companies be more successful. Alli's no-nonsense, guilt-free take on motherhood, parenting and balance has led to appearances on The Today Show and Good Morning America. She lives outside Nashville with her husband, Mark, their five sons, rescued dog and cat who moved onto their doorstep. You can connect with Alli at

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