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Posted April 8, 2013
The Art of My Life is the second book by author Ann Lee Miller that I’ve read, and with it, she has officially been placed in my ‘favorite authors’ file. We met the main characters Aly and Cal in a previous book by Miller called Kicking Eternity, (which made my top five list for 2012). Aly is a self deprecating nymphomaniac on a path of destruction while Cal is an eccentric artist and surfer; the rogue son of a pastor. They have both grown and changed since book one, Cal through spending some time in prison for possession, and Aly through self imposed celibacy. Friends in the past, they come together again along with a cast of interesting characters, including Cal’s hippy, marijuana smoking grandparents. Cal wants to start over with his own boat tour business and Aly’s dream is to open a gallery. Too many obstacles seem to thwart them at every turn however, sometimes through the actions of well meaning family and friends. Partly romance, partly self discovery, this book is beautifully written and kept me riveted until the last page.
Ann Lee Miller has a way of weaving a story together at just the right pace. It’s like savoring a good meal. There is plenty of time for character development as the plot steadily moves forward. The characters are so real, full of raw emotion and human frailty, and sometimes their issues aren’t pretty. The main characters are already endeared to us from book one, so it’s easy to forgive their flaws and root for their success. I know these people: the guy addicted to too much weed: the pastor’s wife trying to deal with her own dysfunctional upbringing; the Christian girl obsessed with sex like a forbidden toy.
Miller’s writing style is superb. Her use of metaphor is unique and skillful – and never cliché. Her descriptions are vivid, skillfully woven into the fabric of the story as to not overwhelm but at the same time paint a vivid picture in the mind.
I enjoyed this book even more than the previous book Kicking Eternity, (and that’s saying a lot!) It is perhaps edgier than the first book in both the language and the situations the characters find themselves in, however the use of profanity wasn’t over the top in my view, even for a Christian book. It was exactly enough to make it authentic.
For those who like Christian fiction with an edge, this one is excellent.
Posted March 13, 2013
The Art of My Life has become my favorite book yet, from Ann Lee Miller! Cal has had a lifetime to become as damaged and lost as he is. Never measuring up to what his mother wanted, he turned to his grandparents who accepted him as he was. Unfortunately, their lifestyle involved illegal drug use and Cal fell into that abyss. Mistake after mistake found Cal in jail, still lost. He has been in love with Aly forever, but doesn't feel he will ever be good enough for her. Aly also has her demons. After a wild and promiscuous teenage period, she has settled down and gotten her life straightened out. Aly has a career that will hold her over until she is ready to follow her dreams of owning her own business. Aly loves Cal, but he once turned down her advances and she figures he will never be interested in her.
Meanwhile, Fish and Missy are playing that same cat & mouse game. Fish has always been attracted to Missy, but she is Cal's much younger sister, who now wants marriage and a family-last thing Fish thinks he wants. Missy has had it bad for Fish since she was about fourteen, he knows it, but seems to avoid her.
As each story moves along simultaneously, they tell of the insecurities and issues each person has. No one is perfect, everyone has baggage, some heavier than others, but everyone needs the approval of those closest to them. Cal has the toughest road to travel, he has fallen down so many times, but failed to see that in trying again, he was gaining strength. Aly tries to be there for him, helping him with his business, encouraging his art. They just never seem to get on the same page at the same time. Will either of these couples finally open up and be honest with each other? Do they have what it takes to trust their heart to someone else, no holding back?
Ann Miller has done her job creating a world with flawed characters, flawed satellite characters, and worst case scenarios, just like real life. I was so connected to Cal and his issues that I wanted an hour alone with his over-critical, always disapproving mother! I guess that is a sign of a great author who knows how to put everything together!
Posted January 29, 2013
The Art of my Life by Ann Lee Miller is the best she has written so far. I suggest you read Kicking Eternity first to be acquainted with the characters. Ann has a way of making her characters come alive and down to earth. I read this book in one evening because I did not want to put it down. Wonderful book, well done Ann.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 15, 2013
I really enjoyed reading The Art of My Life. I thought the characters were interesting and the story was engaging. I would recommend this book and I am looking forward to reading other books by Ann Lee Miller.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 7, 2012
The Art of My Life, continued the story from Kicking Eternity. I truly enjoyed reading this story. I read this while taking a few days off work, enjoying me time. The story of Cal and Aly was developed so well; I defintely wasn't bored. Ann writes and connects the characters so well, that you do not want to put the book down. Love it and already have her next book on my Nook!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 20, 2012
Title: The Art of My Life
Author: Ann Lee Miller
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Grade/Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Art of My Life, is a love story. If you’re looking for a messed up kinky billionaire sweeping the beautiful girl off her feet, plying her with expensive presents, and kinky sex then this isn’t the book for you. This book by Ann Lee Miller is a powerful inspiring story about love, hope, failure, forgiveness, and redemption. The story has so many facets that it sparkles and shines like a beautiful diamond.
We first meet Cal as he walks out of the Volusia county jail, after doing a couple of months time for marijuana possession with the intent to sell. He’s a 25 year old artist and a college dropout. He’s also a habitual marijuana smoker, one hell of a nice guy, and on probation. Yes, he screwed up, but he has a plan to get his life in order and get the girl, Aly, he’s loved since he was a teen. She’s on his mind as he walks out of jail and he’s decided that she’s his future and has always been the one. Cal comes from a straight laced conservative family; he’s the son of a minister and his mother, Starr, is a dance teacher. He’s the middle child and the one who never fit in. All his life, his mother has been incapable of giving him the unconditional love that he needed because of her own past and passed judgment of him.
Both Cal and his mother are both introduced in the first chapter. Rather than being concerned about her son, Starr is more worried about what the locals will think about Cal and him messing up his life. She has a plan to fix him; his grandmother Henna, has signed over her sail boat and Starr has come up with the idea of letting Cal start a charter boat business with a $40,000 loan co-signed by her husband and herself. The loan is for repairs and startup capital. They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions and Cal’s parents have very good intentions. We also find out the marijuana he was arrested for belonged to his grandparents and not to him. Yes the grandparents are both potheads, but they are also the only ones that gave Cal the unconditional love he so desperately needed. They also have enabled his addiction to marijuana as they are the growers. His grandparents have been lifelong users. Cal’s goal is to get the business up and running. His biggest concern is to become the type of person Aly would take a chance on.
Aly’s a bright wonderful loan officer in charge of Cal’s loan. She’s a college graduate with a degree in business and Cal believes that she’s out of his league. Cal’s been in love with her since he was seventeen, but for his own reasons, he’s never made a move. She too has been in love with him since she was a teen, but always sought out love in all the wrong places. Cal and Aly were also each other’s best friends. Their relationship is further complicated because they also are in-laws, as Ally’s sister is married to Cal’s brother. Ally finally admitted her love for Cal two years ago and we find out as the story unfolds, that he breaks her heart. Ally still has not recovered from that pain. In the last two years they have been polite, but distant with each other. Aly also deals with major emotional issues of abandonment and self esteem that are extremely relevant to her personality.
Another main character we meet is Cal’s best friend, Sean, and the two of them have been thick as thieves since they were boys. In fact during his senior year of high school Sean lived with Cal and his family because his family took off to Peru to start an orphanage and abandoned their son. I admit I never understood why his family did this and understood Sean’s intense anger and resentment at the abandonment. We also find out he got fired from his job because of Cal stashed joints in his work locker and that threatens his reignited political aspirations and law school. Sean has to deal with his abandonment issues, education, and his anger towards Cal. Sean also has to fight his attraction to Cal’s younger sister, Missy, who he has known all her life.
Missy is a 20 year old college student and she’s feisty, insightful, and speaks her mind. She’s also crushed on Sean since she was a kid. He’s ignored her for the past couple of years, which has bruised her heart. Missy wants the world and now that Sean has noticed her, she feels it’s too late and she’s moved on. Her brother, Cal, has disappeared from her life as he’s wrapped up in his own problems and drama. Missy has to decide what she wants out of life and may need to listen to her own advice about forgiveness.
The cast of characters is rounded out by Evie (Cal’s ex-girlfriend), Jesse (Cal’s older brother, a minister); Kallie (Jesse’s wife and Aly’s older sister) and Cal’s father. Sean’s family is also included in the book. The secondary characters with the exception of Evie, round out the family dynamics, but none of them play much of a role in the book.
The Art of My Life is a story of a family, not a picture perfect family, but a family that has its struggles and issues. What I enjoyed the most about this book is that the characters were very real. They all struggle with love and commitment, including responsibilities, spirituality, success, and failure. There were times I found myself screaming at Cal for his choices. I wanted him to get his head out of his kester and face reality. At some point along the way Cal began to self medicate with marijuana; it’s what he turns to when he’s stressed and his mother’s disapproval is a major stress point for him. I wondered why his parents thought that starting a business would be a good idea for someone newly released from jail, and evidentially had a problem with pressure and marijuana.
I then would rail against Starr for damaging her son’s self worth and at the same time I wanted to save the little girl she had been, from her own absentee parents. Physically her parents, Leaf and Henna, may have been in the house, but Starr raised herself.
I loved Aly and I wanted to track her father down for instilling her, the problems with self worth and the feelings that she was a slut. He damaged his daughter in such an unforgivable way at a very young age. Despite her choices in love, Aly is written as a girl everyone would love to have in their lives.
I liked the duel romances taking place in the book Cal/Aly and Sean/Missy, I never felt cheated that one was more developed than the other. Ms. Williams does an excellent job in outlining both of these relationships. The parent child relationship between Cal and his mother Starr and Starr and her mother Henna are both heartbreaking and in the end fulfilling. It is very realistic as neither are wrapped up in a neat package, but life is never tidy and neither are all the relationships in this book. The book is spiritual without being preachy. The name of God is invoked in prayer, but at no point does the author offer a sermon to the reader. This is not a fairy tale; these characters struggle and through their struggles they make changes and luckily they learn from their missteps. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give it 4.5 stars.
Posted November 13, 2012
Once again, Miller has done it - written an incredibly captivating and engaging story! The Art of My Life continues on after her first book Kicking Eternity (which was also excellent) and adds even more depth to the characters and storyline. The main character Cal, goes through lots of drama in this book as he's trying to rebuild his life and also win the love of Aly. This book gets more and more interesting as the plot unfolds, and I found myself staying up late every night trying to finish it! Miller truly reveals genuine depth of writing and skill in this book! Definitely a must-read book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 10, 2012
Being a senior adult from a conservative religious background, I had some trouble getting into this novel and certainly in relating to the drug addiction problems that Cal faced. In fact I found myself getting mad at Cal every time he fell back on his " smoking" when some life event went sour. However when I thought about my life and my own insecurities about being a failure, not measuring up....I realized how we all fall back on "crutches" of one kind or another, and it made me more empathetic to Cal's struggles.
I must admit I didn't warm to the characters of Missy and Fish and found myself skimming over the sections that dealt with their relationship.
Ann Lee Miller doesn't browbeat with a Christian theme, but one does sense the idea of God listening and watching over us in our daily struggles, loving us through them and being there to help us overcome, if we allow Him.
A very satisfying read overall....with believable characters.
Posted November 8, 2012
The Art of My Life, by Ann Miller, is the second book in a trilogy. Her first book, Kicking Eternity, came out summer of 2012, and The Art of My Life came out in September 2012. Her last book in the series, Avra’s God, is due to be released in December 2012.
Ann Miller gives a very realistic portrayal of life and the struggles that young adults face in our current society. This book would be considered a little more “edgy” than most Christian fiction, with some scenes and language that would not appeal to all Christian audiences. However, I think that it would appeal to a lot of people who are dissatisfied with the way their life currently is going or are searching for something more or perhaps have a relationship with God but have conformed to the world’s standards more than they would like to admit.
I think Ann Miller was able to express the issues that are faced by young adults while making a believer who wants to reach the adults of today think, “How can I reach out to them without pushing them away while still portraying Christ in my life?” I look forward to reading Ann Miller’s work throughout the years. Her passion clearly shines through in all her books.
Posted November 8, 2012
This second book by Ann Lee Miller continues the story from Kicking Eternity. As in the first, the characters seem real; the reader cares about their lives and watches them face real temptations and make choices that sometimes result in good in their lives and sometimes bad, just as in real life.
I like the blogs by Aly at the beginning of each chapter; they add insight to her character and engaged me in thought about her topics.
Miller writes some amazing kisses and presents the reality of throbbing hormones in a way that many Christian authors avoid, but are probably true to her readers' experiences.
As a mom, I could really relate to the struggle between Cal and his mom who loved him yet didn't know how to show that love in light of his drug abuse. I felt his mom's despair and conflict.
Missy was probably my least favorite character with her ultimatums of "Marry me now" or "Don't even be in my life." I was hoping Fish would teach her to love him and wait as she demanded of him.
The Art of My Life kept me engaged throughout. I want to read more of this author's work.
Posted November 7, 2012
This book is just as good as Kicking Eternity, the "prequel" to this book. The characters are very well developed, it's easy to relate to them and their stories. As in Kicking Eternity, the author uses great imagery.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2012
It's a common malady, that sequels pale in comparison with their primary counterparts. Not so with The Art of My Life, by Ann Lee Miller. Kicking Eternity, book 1, introduced the characters of Cal and Aly, a somewhat star-crossed couple who had been friends for years and never been lucky enough to move past that point. Add into that Cal's tendency toward addiction to marijuana, Aly's addiction to sex, and they were delightfully flawed individuals whom tugged at your heartstrings.
In The Art of My Life, the story circles around Cal and Aly, Cal's sister Missy and his best friend Fish, and a few other delinquent relationships (Cal's mother, her relationship with her parents, an ex, an absent family....). I grant you, there were a lot of things going on, hearts to be mended and relationships to be prepared, but TAoML didn't lose me; that is, the story and conflicts were written and spun in such a way that it kept me not only engrossed, but intrigued and interested. I felt the characters' desire, their passion, their pain and frustration. I couldn't help but fall in love with all of them and wish them the best, learning from their pain and seeing how similar it rang with challenges from my own past.
Dealing with such addictions as marijuana and sex is something you don't read often in Christian romances, and I was pleasantly surprised by not only the subject matter and material, but with the class Ann Lee Miller displayed in her weaving of these tales. Yes, there were places where it seemed the characters were being a little ridiculously blind, but haven't we all looked back on our lives in hindsight and wondered "What the heck was I thinking?"
If I could request one thing be changed, it would be that more time dedicated (or a separate book) to the relationship of Missy and Fish. But, at the same time I believe the amount presented was best. Inject anything more and you risk subtracting from the succinct and sweet storyline TAoML presented.
Overall, the book was a tremendous success, the only other Christian romance with just enough spice being The Covering by Dana Pratola.
Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Would I read it again: yes
Would I recommend it to others: a definite yes!
Posted September 17, 2012
The Art Of My Life by Ann Lee Miller Smyrna Beach Series Book 2 John Calvin Koomer, who goes by the name Cal as in Calvin and Hobbs, because he was always more restless and into things like the mischievous cartoon character. Rather than follow the guidance of his father, Pastor Jackson Koomer, he related more to his hippie type grandparents Henna and Leaf, who provided him with all the pot he wanted. Cal has cared for Aly for some time but really messed up a few years ago by hanging out with Evie. Now he wants Aly….is it too late? Aly Logan hasn't lived a very good life these first twenty some years. Her abandonment issues from her father leaving when she was only seven has stuck with her. The pain of seeing Cal on the beach with Evie two years ago hurt even worse. She has lived a different life since then and plans on owning her own business one day. When Cal enters her life again she struggles with her feelings for him, which are still strong, but the trust is weak. Sean Fisher 'Fish' has a few chips on his shoulder. When his parents left to open an orphanage in Peru his senior year he chose to stay behind and live with the Koomers. He always had a special place in his heart for Cal's younger sister, Missy. Now that she is twenty he sees her as more than the little girl she was….but she wants marriage and family. He don’t. He also has anger issues with Cal, who cost him a job and possibly the political career he always dreamed up. We met Cal and Aly in the first book, Kicking Eternity. We get to know them much better in this book and also meet some new and unique characters. This book is much more sensual than the first. You have young adults who have been promiscuous and are now fighting against those feelings to build more of a relationship than one built on sex alone. I really enjoyed this book. I found the struggles to be so realistic. The battles these young people fight against are real as are the some of the mistakes made by parents. Sensual situations and language.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 27, 2012
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Posted October 12, 2012
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Posted October 12, 2012
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