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The Art of My Life Paperback – September 25, 2012
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About the Author
Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn't writing or muddling through some crisis--real or imagined--you'll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband, meddling in her kids' lives or at AnnLeeMiller.com. Avra's God debuts in December, 2012, and Tattered Innocence in March, 2013. Ann says: Every year in elementary school the teachers wrote, "daydreams too much," on my report card. Like Ty Pennington, no doubt, put his, "can't sit still," to good use on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, I cashed in my bad behavior writing novels. However, sometimes the daydreaming didn't work out so well in real life. When I was twelve, my job was checking the depth when we sailed near shallows. I jabbed a pole at the bay floor and yelled out how many feet of water we had by reading the notches on the stick. One day the pole stuck in bottom, and the next thing I knew, I clung to the pole, suspended a couple feet above the water, and my family sailed away. Of course, I didn't waste all my hollering about mud and barracuda and cold water as I sunk into the seaweed waiting for Dad to lumber the motor-less, forty-foot hulk back around to fetch me--I wrote it into one of my books.
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Top customer reviews
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The author amazes me with her detailed descriptions that make you feel like a character in the book rather than just a reader. Flashbacks of young love go through your mind and bring you back to those years when dating and fun were most important. You see her characters develop into mature, appreciating adults who find more than self gratification as a focus.
I loved this book but took a half star off for one reason. I felt that the book needed an epilogue. The ending pages just didn't quite get me there. Yes, I imagine that Cal and Aly are doing fine but I wanted to be told that outright! LOL! An epilogue from a couple years forward would have been nice. Needless to say, I love the stories of this author. :o)
The Art of my Life still has a Christian world view but it's not as overt as in Kicking Eternity and to me it felt more natural. Some of the characters have a relationship with God, but they aren't being preachy about it, it's just part of their life.
The hero of the story, Cal, doesn't see himself as a hero. He views himself as a pothead ex-con and not worth anything. I loved Cal. The book starts when he's released from jail for possession of marijuana. It was actually his hippie grandparents supply. His grandmother, maybe from guilt, deeds him their boat. So Cal, has a boat and nothing more except his failed dreams and his art. While he was in jail he had time to think about what he wanted from life and he decided that he is going to try to fix things with Aly, the girl he's been in love with since he was a teenager.
Aly is a very sympathetic character. I was so happy this was her story because I fell in love with her in Kicking Eternity. She has HUGE daddy issues and lived recklessly as a teenager and slept around seeking acceptance. Cal was always there for her as her best friend. He was there when she had a pregnancy scare and helped her see that she was seeking love from guys she didn't even care about and she was worth more. She's single now and working in a bank as a loan officer saving towards her dream of owning her own business someday.
Cal gets a loan through her bank and tries to turn his boat into a charter business. They begin to rebuild their friendship and have to deal with baggage on both sides. Her insecurities and his feelings of inadequacy and the looming threat of him sabotaging his future and returning to jail. I wanted to hug them both and tell them they have value and are worthy of love. I was rooting for them. My stomach was in knots and I almost cried during some of the heartbreaking scenes. I wanted Cal to stop using drugs as a crutch when he wanted to avoid the messes he made with his life and was feeling like garbage. I wanted Aly to trust that she was was worthy of being loved. I was thrilled as they began to believe in the power of love and forgiveness and 2nd chances at life.
I also loved how Ann painted the secondary characters in Cal and Aly's life. I felt like Fish, Missy and Cal's mom Starr were so fully drawn that I might recognise them on the street. I enjoyed the storyline of Fish and Missy especially.
Here are just a few of my favs lines
♦ Cut off. Alone. Starved for her. He'd always love Aly. The best he could hope for was that she would be happy. At least one of them would be.
♦ Do you ever feel like you're facing a day that could change the course of your life forever? How do you prepare for a day like that? Eat Wheaties, floss, pray, clean house?
♦ "My God, Aly. I've wanted you since I met you. I wanted you on Christmas when I showed you my tattoo. I've wanted you every day since you got caught in a thunder storm and spent that first night on the Escape. How could you think I didn't want you?"
♦ He'd bled paint every day in the month since torching Henna's garden till the picture on canvas finally matched the one stuck in his head. It was his crowning work, yet it was more. The vision had kept him sober. True. But pieces of his life had wrestled into place...
♦ Cal said God forgave, but people--not so much. Now she understood.
♦ Cal's lips claimed hers, and he forgot for long minutes he'd promised not to kiss her less than a week ago; the business hadn't actually broken even yet. He forgot the tick of the cuckoo clock on the wall--everything but the scent of mint growing deep in a forest that clung to her, Aly's fresh baked bread taste, Aly melded to his heart.
I recommend The Art of my Life if you are open to a romance that has a faith based, but not pushy, world view and a heart wrenching story about love and forgiveness and 2nd chances.
The Queen of Tarts
I never knew anything about sailing and Ann also covered that very well. On a grey and cold MN day I pictured myself with windblown hair and sunburned cheeks spending the day on one of these boats visiting with these characters. It's a great read for young adults and also senior readers like myself. Unlike many books that spend their pages describing sex scenes I found the love in the books and the respect the characters showed to their partners in treating this part of their lives with care a refreshing change. I already have purchased Ann's third book and had to put off starting it until after the Christmas rush.
I hoped I enticed more people to read this book and also Kicking Eternity. You won't be disappointed.