Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Review of The Art of My Life

Here's a description of the book from Smashwords:

"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 the 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 monster rummage sale and an affection for weed.

But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying.

For anyone who’s ever struggled to measure up. And failed."

My Rating


My Review

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.*


So I've come across two sets of covers for this "New Smyrna Beach" series, and I was curious...which do you like better? I didn't realize there were ones with people (vs. the art ones) until after I finished the book, and I had thought the covers might look neat redone. And they do! I especially like the new version of Kicking Eternity. At the same time, though, the art cover for The Art of My Life is so fitting for the story, and I think the art covers really do go well the series. What do you think?


Heidi said...

These are on my list to read and review too! The author told me that new covers were coming out, and I like the new ones MUCH better. You can really see a difference in quality, and I'd be much more likely to pick up the book with the newer cover. Thanks for your review and content warning!


Amber Stokes said...


Awesome! Hope you enjoy the stories. :) And the new covers definitely seem more professional in a cleaner/fresher way. I agree that I'd be more likely to pick them up now! However, I do think the art covers are really whimsical and fitting for the series - kind of more personal. It would be cool if there were Kindle and paperback versions for the new covers, and then special paperback versions for the art ones, maybe. :)

Anyway, thank you for reading my review and joining the discussion! Always fun to talk book covers. :)