Skip to main content

#HistFicThursdays - On Bur Oak Ridge - Jenny Knipfer - Book Excerpt

  Today, I'm delighted to hosting Jenny Knipfer once more, this time with the next book in her Sheltering Trees series: On Bur Oak Ridge . I'm sharing a short extract, but first, let's meet the book... “The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intrigued…to the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith.” Readers’ Favorite five-star review  A HISTORICAL NOVEL OF FINDING HEALING AND A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsons’ farm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face.  Samuel Woodson, the Nelsons’ hired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuel – seeing past Molly’s scars – draws her out of her self-protective shell.  Molly and Samuel form a frie

#HistFicThursdays - Leningrad: The People's War - Rachel R. Heil - Guest Post

It's a double #HistFicThursdays today! For the second blog of this week I'm delighted to be sharing a guest post from Rachel R. Heil, as part of her Coffee Pot Book Club tour. Find out all about Rachel's inspiration and the balance between historical fiction and historical fact in Leningrad: The People's War. But first, let's meet the book..


Leningrad, 1941. As Europe crumbles under the German war machine, the people of the Soviet Union watch. There are whispers of war but not loud enough for the civilians of Leningrad to notice. Instead, they keep their heads down and try to avoid the ever-watching eyes of their own oppressive government.

University student Tatiana Ivankova tries to look ahead to the future after a family tragedy that characterizes life under the brutal regime. But, when the rumors that have been circulating the country become a terrifying reality, Tatiana realizes that the greatest fear may not be the enemy but what her fellow citizens are prepared to do to each other to survive. 

As his men plow through the Russian countryside, Heinrich Nottebohm is told to follow orders and ask no questions, even if such commands go against his own principles. His superiors hold over him a past event that continues to destroy him with every day that passes. But, when given the opportunity to take an act of defiance, Heinrich will jump at the chance, ignoring what the end results could be. 

Leningrad: The People’s War tells the harrowing beginning of a war that forever changed the landscape of a city, told through the eyes of both sides in a tale of courage, love, and sacrifice. 

Leningrad: The People's War is available on #KindleUnlimited via this Universal Link

Guest Post

When I decided to become a writer there was little doubt in my mind about what genre I was going to write in. I enjoy a heart-pounding mystery, a nail-biting thriller, and a well done nonfiction piece, but historical fiction has always been the genre I’ve been drawn to. Plus, as a self-professed history nerd it would seem blasphemous to write anything else. But one of the challenges I faced was how do I keep a writer’s attention when they probably already know what’s going to happen? After all, most readers have 20:20 hindsight vision, especially when it comes to very well-known events like World War Two. 

To answer such a question I asked myself what, as a reader, keeps me invested in a story? I’ve always been someone fascinated by personal stories. Whether it’s set in occupied France or communist Romania against the backdrop of the Iron Curtain, I find myself drawn to the characters’ stories and how they attempt to navigate the world they are living in. In such situations we tend to ask ourselves, what would I do? Would I be willing to sacrifice my entire future to speak out against something I see as an injustice, or would I quietly live my life and try to get by? Those types of questions have always fascinated me. As a writer I can’t manipulate the history of what happens in the set time period, but I can dictate what happens to the characters, and that’s what I use to deal with a reader’s knowledge of the event.

The reader knows, or can know, what’s going to happen with the larger event. With World War Two, the reader knows Nazism will collapse and the Allies will be victorious. But the reader doesn’t know what is going to happen to the fictional character. Are they going to make it through the war? Will they fight for their country? Will their faith in their leader be shaken or remain steadfast? Are they going to be betrayed by that strange side character who you can't quite figure out but you don't trust them for some unexplainable reason? Or are they going to surprise you and help out the protagonist? In the case of Leningrad: The People’s War the reader will ask themselves if the characters are going to survive the harsh siege or die before they are eventually liberated and is that liberation because the city falls to the Germans and the people are subjected to occupation or are the Germans continually propelled back and never enter Leningrad (you can Google that if you really want or you can read Leningrad to find out😊).

However, the characters in Leningrad are not entirely fictional. Many of the challenges and decisions they have to make are based on ones actual people in Leningrad and what those serving in the German Army had to face. That is what I love about researching any event, and it goes back to my love for personal stories. Reading and listening to survivors’ testimonies on what they encountered during the period is extraordinarily valuable, and they help provide a sense of realism to the character. Sometimes this can be a little complicated when taking into consideration readers' knowledge of events. For example, during the war, Leningrad was a city always ripe with rumors, some of which were not at all true, and the reader would know this. One rumor that swirled around Leningraders was that Hitler wasn't going to destroy Leningrad because he planned on gifting the city to his daughter. Of course, we know that Hitler never had children, but it's an example of what Leningraders were saying to each other during that time. Ultimately, while my characters’ decisions and actions are purely fictional to help propel the story the way I want it to go their origins are rooted in true survivors’ stories.

I think it is hard to counter the reader's foresight of events, but I think the best way of keeping readers engaged is to create characters they care about. Most stories are character-driven, and each one has a story behind them that is waiting to be told. 

Now, let's meet the author:

Rachel R. Heil is a historical fiction writer who always dreamed of being an author. After years of dreaming, she finally decided to turn this dream into a reality with her first novel, and series, Behind the Darkened Glass. Rachel is an avid history fan, primarily focused on twentieth century history and particularly World War Two-era events. In addition to her love for history, Rachel loves following the British Royal Family and traveling the world, which only opens the door to learning more about a country's history. Rachel resides in Wisconsin.

You can follow Rachel on these links:

Keep up with the rest of the Leningrad: The People's War tour stops by clicking on the banner below:


  1. Thank you so much for hosting the blog tour for Leningrad: The People’s War.
    All the best,
    Mary Anne
    The Coffee Pot Book Club


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review - Alexander the Great versus Julius Caesar - Simon Elliott

Today's #HistFicThursdays blog is not fiction at all! Instead, I'm delighted to be sharing a Book Review for Simon Elliott's book Alexander the Great versus Julius Caesar - Who was the Greatest Commander in the Ancient World? I'm so grateful to Pen and Sword Books for providing me with a copy of this book. These are two men I knew about vaguely, all the myths and legends and very little of the facts. And this book certainly took me deep into the intricacies of their military campaigns. It debunked a few of those myths I thought I knew, setting the record straight, and quite honestly making this pair a whole lot more engaging. From the word go, I liked this book. Even before I got to the introduction, I loved the dedication. From it, I thought I might just have an inclination of which way the competition would go! The honesty of the author made the book very accessible, as he listed the fellow possible challengers for the title and why he had chosen these two. There ar

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: An Introduction to Craggy

Craggy the Coo was given to me as a Christmas present by my mum way back in 2017. She knitted him from scratch, using her own artistry to produce the woolly mammal who – almost three and a half years later – is about to be unleashed to a brand new audience. I can’t really remember how Craggy’s evolution began. But I remember thinking from the moment I held him in my hands that I ought to repay my mum’s creativity and generosity in kind. The wee coo whose adventures are documented in my first ever book took his first steps out of my hometown of Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway in early January 2018, and he’s never looked back. I’ve packed him in the coo-themed case (well, wash bag if I’m honest) that keeps him safe on each trip I’ve taken around Scotland. And he got to experience some of my favourite parts of the country, in order that I could share those places with a generation of young readers. The idea of travelling widely, armed with a healthy dose of curiosity but a sense that some

#HistFicThursdays - Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

As anyone who knows me would be able to tell you, I am a massive fan of Byron. Let's be honest, he had a questionable moral compass but he was something of a genius and - although I suspect he would have hated the notion! - I actually feel quite sorry for him. History has remembered him with hatred or fascination rather than hatred or love. Rewind back in time, to a time when I had suddenly got a lot of money and, not being much of a socialite (not being anything  of a socialite!) what I chose to spend it on were collectables or odd little trinkets. I had an automatic eBay search rigged up to Crimean War memorabilia (the topic I was writing about at the time) and Lord Byron. It was from this search which I bought one of the weirdest items. This item was titled: victorian byron poetry mirror Sennacherib' angel of death War Horse / Army Assoc Great! thought I, this will link into my Crimean War book, and my love of Byron! Reading further, this revealed itself to be exactly what