Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Heliotrope by JC Miller (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Heliotrope by author JC Miller!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, JC!

How long have you been a writer?

I started writing stories when I was a little girl. I’ve always loved telling stories, but in truth, didn’t have the confidence to pursue it. For most of my adult life I concentrated on academic writing, being a full time teacher and a parent. When my son left for college, I decided it was time—now or never—to follow my passion.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career? 

I’m a teacher at a community college.

Do you write books for a specific genre?

I find genre confining. I want my books to appeal to a broad cross-section on people, including men. 

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing? 

My favorite time to write is in the early morning, when the rest of the world is still asleep. A laptop gives me the freedom to write anywhere, but I usually sit at the kitchen table. Looking out the window to the trees and the creek grounds me. Though I hate to admit it, I also love writing in bed, surrounded by my sweet support group: a yellow Lab, Chloe and kitty, Milo. I try to get up every hour or so. I might run around or jump up and down, anything to mitigate the sedentary nature of writing.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books? 

With my latest novel, for unknown reasons, the word heliotrope, which is both a light purple color and a lovely flower, kept rattling around in my brain. It all started with one word. Like my character Kit, I enjoy playing with words. Etymology fascinates me. For example, heliotrope is derived from the old English sunnfolgend. Language is not static and words are always changing. It’s fun to think of the historical and cultural implications.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing? 

I love hiking, traveling, and I’m a huge table tennis enthusiast.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received? 

If a beautiful passage doesn’t serve your story, you need to cut it. Grow a very thick skin.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer? 

When “in the zone” writing with fluid momentum, the creative process is exhilarating. On the flip side, getting stuck is torturous.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination? 

I identify with Ruth in Believing in Bigfoot, as I’m a bit snarky, though not as cynical as she. The opening scene is based loosely on my own “real” Bigfoot encounter. Kit, in Heliotrope is the kind of college student I would have been, if only I’d been driven, focused and unafraid to be a writer!

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us? 

I’m working on a sequel to Heliotrope. It’s mostly in my head at the moment.

Thank you JC for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career!

About The Author

JC (Jeanne) Miller, M.A., is an avid reader, aspiring traveler and table tennis enthusiast. She resides in Northern California.

Book Review

Heliotrope by JC Miller
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Publication Date: October 16, 2015
Format: Paperback - 274 pages
               Kindle - 2030 KB
               Nook - 680 KB
ISBN: 978-1513701707
BNID: 2940151015981
Genre: Coming Of Age

Buy The Book: 
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a book review program and virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Buckle up your Birkenstocks and travel back to 1975. Discover (or relive) the pre-digital age in Arcata, a remote Bohemian college town on the northern edge of California. Meet Kit, a hard-working, bookish senior, on track for graduation—that is, until she falls for Jonathan, one-time bestselling author, now her stand-in professor. Jonathan, a master in the art of deception, isn’t who he appears to be. As their bond grows, Kit’s desire blinds her to the truth— a shocking discovery shatters her faith and ultimately tests her integrity.

From the first blush of fall quarter to the final breath of spring, hard lessons will be learned. To “graduate” into an uncertain future, Jonathan and Kit must first embrace the present—including the injustices, ambiguities and absolute beauty of their lives.

Beneath the ever-changing Humboldt skies they forge ahead; they stumble and sometimes fall.

Heliotrope, a coming-of age story for the ages.

Book Excerpt:

Kit arrived twenty minutes early for her senior seminar, American Lit. With the exception of a few fellow early-nerds, she found the classroom blessedly empty. She staked out her territory in the back row, her default position. She, like everyone present, pretended to be engrossed in thick textbooks, imperfect class schedules. At five ’til, Erin blew in. She spotted Kit right away.

Kit leapt up to hug her. “I was hoping you’d be in this class.”

Erin’s waist-length brunette ponytail, slightly damp, brushed Kit’s cheek. Its luster and heft reminded her of an actual pony’s tail.

Erin released her. “I’m crashing it—I hope Dr. Radcliff will let me add.”

“She will. She’s cool,” Kit said.

“How was your summer?”

“Okay. I just hung out here.”

Erin’s expression turned curious. She was intent on Kit’s face, like a forestry major discovering a rare specimen of moss. “Really? How was that?”

“It was all right, but kind of quiet, you know? Without the students around, Arcata is a totally different town.” She paused. “What about you? You went to Greece with your parents, right?”

Erin made a sour face. “Don’t remind me.”


“It was a bore. For a whole month all I did was sail around on my uncle’s yacht with a bunch of old people.”

“Doesn’t sound that terrible.”

Erin frowned. “Let’s put it this way. If I had to spend one more day with my parents, I’d probably kill them.”

“I know what you mean,” Kit said, though she had no idea. She knew Erin was from Pasadena, that her family was wealthy. But in her wildest dreams she couldn’t imagine traveling to Greece or sailing on a yacht.

“I’ll bet you can’t wait to start senior year.” Erin grinned. “If I know you, you’ve already read all of the books and finished all of your homework.”

Before Kit had a chance to respond, an eerie hush fell over the classroom.

Erin grabbed Kit’s arm. “Who the hell is that?” she hiss-whispered.

Kit swallowed the lump in her throat. “My God, it’s Necktie.”

Erin made a cross-eyed zany face. “Necktie?”

Necktie, poised at the podium, cleared his throat. “Hello, everyone. I’m Jonathan Wakefield. I know most of you were expecting Dr. Radcliff to teach this course, and she intended to do so. Due to a pressing family matter she has taken leave this quarter.”

A hand shot up. Judging from the blonde head, it was ass-kissing, front-row-sitting Denise.

“Yes?” Jonathan Wakefield said.

“Is Dr. Radcliff okay?”

Wakefield frowned like a teacher losing control. “Actually, I have never met Dr. Radcliff.”

Denise pressed the issue. “Will you be teaching all of her classes?”

He let out a sigh. “And you are?”

“Denise Platt.”

“Ms. Platt, curiosity is an admirable quality. However, my personal life is of little consequence to the topic at hand, wouldn’t you agree?” Necktie, one. Denise, zero.

After Necktie put Denise in her place, he introduced the course syllabus, with its hefty required reading list and lengthy response papers. Kit shrank into her seat willing herself invisible. She did not hear a single word he said.

The class ended. Kit, trailing behind Erin, attempted to slip out the door unnoticed. She almost made it, too.

“You’re the girl from Waffle Hamlet, aren’t you?”

Glare from the newly polished linoleum caught Kit’s eye. Her gaze fell. “Guilty.”

“Do you have a name?”

“Katherine Hilliard—but I go by Kit.”


Erin elbowed Kit in the ribs. “Oh, and this is Erin Donahue.”

“I was hoping to add,” Erin said, displaying a ragged add card.

Wakefield glowered at the card for a long moment, as if debating. Finally, employing his right palm for a writing surface, he signed it. As he returned the add card, he made eye contact with Erin. “Miss Donahue,” he said, his tone chivalrous.

If he’d spoken to her like that, Kit would have blushed, but Erin looked him straight in the eye. She didn’t even blink.

My Book Review:

Heliotrope is a compelling coming of age story that transports the reader back to 1975 where they follow college senior Kit Hilliard as she embarks on a emotional journey of self discovery.

Set in Arcata, California, author JC Miller weaves a thought provoking tale of a young woman as she comes of age in 1975, yearning to find her place in the world, while learning hard life lessons when a crush on her professor is unrequited, turning her life upside down and on a destructive path. 

Heliotrope is an intriguing tale that features two complex characters: Kit, the college senior who is yearning to find her place in the world, while developing a unrequited love for her professor, Jonathan Wakefield. Jonathan is a one-time best selling author turned professor, who has his own internal conflicts and isn't who he appears to be. Their story is full of drama, internal personal conflicts, angst, romance, betrayal, life lessons, and emotional trials and tribulations that easily keeps the reader engaged and turning the pages.

The author does a wonderful job of transporting the reader back to 1975 with rich descriptions and references of the easy going, free to be time period, don't you just love the book cover! This complex story flows smoothly as Kit and Jon's story unfolds in a dramatic and tumultuous style. I couldn't help but find myself captivated by Kit and Jon's story, it is a delightful story that even took me on a walk down memory lane of my own college years! Heliotrope is a realistic coming of age story that captures the essence of college and of life's struggles and choices in a more hipper and simpler time.


Contest Giveaway

Win A Copy Of Heliotrope

Enter the GoodReads giveaway to win a copy of Heliotrope!

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

December 28 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
December 29 – Around the World in Books – Novel Spotlight
December 29 – CDyess Writes – Excerpt
December 30– Living Life With Joy – Excerpt
December 30 – Celia Kennedy – Q&A & Excerpt
January 1 – Novel Escapes – Q&A
January 4 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt


  1. This sounds like a wonderful story. I love historical fiction -- actually not too fond of those before the 18th century. Nice review! :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

    1. Hi Diane! Thank you for stopping by my blog and posting your kind comments, I appreciate it. This was a wonderful story, it took me back to my childhood in the 1970s and my later college years. :)