The Art of My Life

Rated 4.50/5 based on 14 reviews
Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters.

Aly has business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a garage sale and an affection for weed.

But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. More
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About Ann Lee Miller

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 or meddling in her kids’ lives. Over 100,000 copies of Miller’s debut novel, Kicking Eternity, have been downloaded from online retailers.

Learn more about Ann Lee Miller

Also in Series: New Smyrna Beach

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Reviews of The Art of My Life by Ann Lee Miller

Cadee Brystal reviewed on June 21, 2014

After reading -- and loving -- Ann Lee Miller's Christian novel "Kicking Eternity", I was eager to read The Art of My Life. Miller's writing style is easy to read and her characters are true to life. Her stories unfold in a comfortable way, but have enough drama to keep the reader involved. I look forward to reading more from Ann Lee Miller!
(reviewed 59 days after purchase)
Amber Stokes reviewed on March 18, 2014

Despite the difficult issues the characters face in The Art of My Life, there's a breezy, sweet relief to the story. The setting with its small businesses and its sailboats at dock...the honest, head-on presentation of struggles both universal and typical for new adults...the final baring of souls and revealing of secrets... All in all, it's an engaging, character-driven read.

I really liked the fact that there were two main romances, and might I add that the characters have some great names? Cal, Aly, Fish (nickname), Missy, Evie, Starr, Henna, Leaf, Van Gogh (the dog)... All very distinctive, fitting, and fun! The plot itself is a little too angst-ridden to be called "fun," but the moments of suspense toward the middle of the novel, as well as the coastal setting and some sweet romantic scenes, make it an overall enjoyable reading experience.

For those readers who are sensitive about content, there is some language throughout the story, and there's an emphasis on the physical in the romantic relationships. (Nothing overly explicit - mostly just a general focus on how the other looks and wanting the other person in a physical way, although there is kissing and general talk of sex.) That was one thing that kind of frustrated me about one of the romantic relationships, especially - so much emphasis was placed on wanting to be able to be together physically. But the overall message of the main romance transcends that.

As I previously noted, the story is very character-driven. In some ways, I definitely loved that, because the characters are very endearing and intriguing with their quirks and flaws and authentic grappling with love and life. But there were times when it caused the story to stretch out a little long. The climactic moment suspense-wise happened about 3/4 of the way through, I believe, and so the resolution of all the issues - while inspiring and important - went on a little longer than I would have preferred. And it seemed to take the characters so long to realize that all they had to do to resolve their differences was simply open up about what was really bothering them. (But that's not so much a complaint about the book as it is about human nature, I guess!)

For a heartfelt and hopeful NA (new adult) romance with well-drawn characters, The Art of My Life delivers. And for all my fellow bloggers out there, the blog quotes/entries at the beginning of each chapter are an added creative treat, going along with the thought-provoking title and theme.

*With thanks to the author for providing me an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
(reviewed 20 days after purchase)
Dii reviewed on 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!
(reviewed 15 days after purchase)
Karen Lyons reviewed on Feb. 26, 2013
(no rating)
The Art of My Life
By Ann Lee Miller

Below is a description of this book
Cal walked out of jail and into a second chance at winning Aly with his grandma’s beater sailboat and a reclaimed dream of sailing charters. Aly has business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a garage sale and an affection for weed. But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something.

I read the e-book format….
I read the “Kicking Eternity” book written by Ann and really enjoyed it, this one continues the story of Aly and Cal. It is an enjoyable read as, the other book Ann has written. It is easy to follow and very relatable. The story is believable and interesting to read what happens next.

This is a book for teenagers and up. As long as they learn from it and do not copy the errors that were made in it.

All in all I liked this book just think, for some odd reason I would enjoy it more if it was in print!

Please Lord, continue to bless Ann and her writing. In Jesus Name Amen.

Please visit Ann @

Ever have a painting you’ve stared at for years—and loved? Then, one day, you see
something which alters the way you view the piece forever. And you have to decide whether the art has been irreparably marred or merely deepened.
Aly at
(reviewed 60 days after purchase)
C.R. Mcbride reviewed on Feb. 12, 2013
(no rating)
I really enjoyed the first part Kicking Eternity where we first meet Cal and I loved him immediately. He is passionate and wears his heart on his sleeve; his heart definitely rules his head.
The Art of My Life see`s Cal in a downward spiral trying desperately to grasp onto anything he can to try and turn his life around.
Aly has turned it around; she has a successful job and is living a clean honest life at last. When Cal returns she doesn`t want him in her life, he humiliated her and broke her heart, so what if she always loved him, worshipped him even he was NOT in her future. If only she could convince her heart of that fact.
This is a totally different paced story to Kicking Eternity, the relationship between Cal and Aly is very heated and I felt at home with the characters as I felt like I already knew them. The nearly but not quite scenes are very passionate as Cal struggles to remain in control of his emotions.
Their story is heart wrenching as both have a dark past that cannot be ignored. I loved it the minute I started to read, it is a real and painful story that many can relate to but at the same time it is exciting and heart-warming. I had a real sense of loss when I finished reading.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)
Carol Rivers reviewed on Feb. 3, 2013

Ann Lee Miller is a gifted writer. The book has wonderful flow. You will fall in love with her characters and feel their pain and their joy.
(reviewed 5 months after purchase)
Katie Thompson reviewed on Jan. 1, 2013

“The Art of My Life” is the second book I have read by Ann Lee Miller. I give this book four stars (the same as I gave “Avra’s God”) although, personally I preferred “Avra’s God,” I don’t think this book deserves anything less than four stars.

“The Art of My Life” tells the tale of Cal and Ali who to begin with are clearly very different people. The book begins with Cal leaving jail. He’s given a chance to ‘restart’ life but will it be different the second time around?

The story line of this book is like that of pretty much every other chick-lit/romance book. Guy likes girl but can he win her heart? Although the story line is good I just couldn’t connect to it. From what I can see both Cal and Ali liked each other from the start and I found the story line a bit ‘flat,’ but that’s just me.

Ann Lee Miller has a good writing style that flows well and makes you want to know what’s going to happen next without dragging it out too much. There are minimal typing/proof-reading errors which makes this an easy read. A good book for any teenager/young adult who enjoys romance.
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)
gwenjoy reviewed on Nov. 8, 2012
(no rating)
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.
(reviewed 53 days after purchase)
Ginger Solomon reviewed on Oct. 27, 2012

This is a sequel to Kicking Eternity, which you will need to read to understand all the backstory/issues.

I enjoyed reading this contemporary romance, but be forewarned tough subjects are covered--seeking sex to compensate for a lack of love, and using drugs to "escape reality"--and a fair amount of foul words. Ann uses the first two effectively to show us the pitfalls of these vices, and how much God loves all of us, despite our sins.

All in all, I thought The Art of My Life was a thought-provoking book that helped me see things from a different perspective.
(reviewed 44 days after purchase)
brimag reviewed on Oct. 15, 2012

Cal is pretty much at rock bottom when the story begins. He is not perfect has made a lot of mistakes. Now he is ready to get his life back together and attempt to win back the woman he loves. This book is full of flawed characters making bad choices and trying to find their way, just like real life. Overall the story is about hope and forgiveness and, of course, love. I loved it and highly recommend.
This is the second book in the New Smyrna Beach series. I haven't read the first. Events from that book are referred to, but it is not necessary to have read it.
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)
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