The Songbird and the Spy by J’nell Ciesielski – Book Review

Posted April 3, 2019 by Phyllis Helton in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Guest Post /

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The Songbird and the Spy by J'nell Ciesielski - Book Review

This seems to be the year for me to read World War II books!

I went through a period in which I avoided any books from this era at all. Yet I have read eleven since starting this blog. Well, twelve now. And four have been in this calendar year!

Last year, I began to see the name J’nell Ciesielski popping up with reference to her book Among the Poppies. The reviews were very favorable and I made note of it, yet just didn’t have time to read it then. So when I saw that her latest book would be touring with Celebrate Lit, I took advantage of the opportunity and signed up.

The Songbird and the Spy by J’nell Ciesielski – Book Review

Songbird and the Spy

by J'nell Ciesielski

Published by Smitten Historical Romance
Publication Date February 19, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Action/Adventure, Clean Romance
Setting: France World War II Era - 1939 - 1946
Main Character Ages: 18-24
Written for: Adults
Pages: 329


As shells explode over Nazi-occupied France, American music student Claire Baudin is trapped behind enemy lines, struggling to protect her identity. Singing as a barmaid while she plans her escape, a handsome Third Reich captain threatens everything she knows to be true about the enemy.

Nazi Captain Michael Reiner isn't who he claims to be. A British language expert turned spy, he discovers the truth about Claire, but he knows the importance of a secret. Struggling to resist his attraction to the songbird, he's determined to complete his assignment, no matter the cost. His cover is threatened when a ruthless female Gestapo officer arrives, hunting Resistance fighters. The raid forces Michael's hand: complete the mission or save Claire.

As the war threatens to tear them apart, they must rely on each other for survival. Is there hope—and a future—for an American songbird and a British spy?

Written for the General Market (G) (I): Contains little or no; sexual dialogue or situations, violence, or strong language. May also contain content of an inspirational nature.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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What a fascinating story!

Full of intrigue, The Songbird and the Spy follows Claire into occupied France as her family is torn from her and she finds herself alone, trying to escape so she can return to America.

I really liked the character of Michael. He was full of integrity, and yet everything about him was a lie. How’s that for a contradiction! Full of poise, his quick thinking got him out of more than one dangerous situation.

The French resistance and the Frenchmen simply trying to survive were an integral part of this story. Little pieces of the hardships they endured at the hands of the Germans were shown – the many ways they had to do without. I never really thought about the callousness of the German soldiers in frequenting the taverns run by the very people they were oppressing. Hmm.

The story was full of twists and turns and intrigue. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, something else did!

I was unaware of Churchill’s SOE (Special Operations Executive) forces until now. The sacrifices these men made in their attempt to thwart the advances of the Germans is so admirable! I’m so glad the author shared their story here.

While a story of war and oppression, it is full of hope. There is very little violence – that which is here is not described in detail. My one cautionary note is to not use the translate feature on your Kindle for every foreign phrase used. One phrase I translated contained a word considered inappropriate in polite company. . .

Aside from the above caution, I recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading WWII fiction with a hint of inspirational romance added.

J'nell's Songbird and the Spy Pinterest Board

(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest) [gs_pinterest user="jnellciesielski" board="songbird-and-the-spy"]

More from J’nell

The most popular question an author is asked is where did the inspiration come from. Most of the time, if not always, my inspiration comes from a trifecta of resources: movies, music, or books. A single song lyric, or secondary character, or novel setting can trigger a whole world of possibilities that has to be explored. In the case of Songbird and the Spy, it was a movie. A Quentin Tarantino movie to be exact set during WWII where one of the characters is a British officer posing as a Nazi meets up with other spies in a French bar. Another character was a Jewish woman posing as a theater owning Frenchwoman. My brain immediately tingled with ideas. What if identities were all in question? What if you fell in love with the wrong person? Not just the wrong person, but the enemy? The drama and tension in such a situation would be unbelievable!

And that is how Songbird was born.

Here are a few bits of trivia for you:

  • Songbird was originally titled Iron Shepherd for Michael’s call sign.
  • There have been three or four different endings written.
  • Michael Reiner was based off of Michael (see what I did there?!) Fassbender’s character in Inglorious Basterds. The actor was born in Germany to German and Irish parents, and later grew up in Ireland. Art imitating life.
  • Music always makes its way into my stories and here it takes center stage.
  • I’ve always wanted to write a USO story so the ending was my perfect chance to squeeze it in.
  • Ilsa von Ziegler was based off of Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones.
  • There was a scene showing Michael at SOE training in Scotland, but it was later cut.
  • Nazi headquarters in Paris really was located on Foch Ave. The building is still there.
  • The molten lead that Michael’s new assistant talks about is a German New Year’s tradition to divine fortune in the coming year. A small bit of lead or tin is melted, and then dropped in water. The form created by the metal predicts the future.
  • Chanteuse is a female singer. Edith Piaf, the most famous French singer of all, was known as The Little Sparrow. Songbird and chanteuse are both used to reference Claire and pay homage to Piaf.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 2

For Him and My FamilyApril 2

Among the Reads, April 3

Where Faith and Books Meet, April 3

Wishful Endings, April 4

Carpe Diem, April 4

Connect in Fiction, April 5

Emily Yager, April 5

Through the Fire Blogs, April 6

The Christian Fiction Girl, April 6

Hallie Reads, April 7

Lis Loves Reading, April 7

Babbling Becky’s Book Impressions, April 8

Genesis 5020, April 8

All-of-a-kind Mom, April 9

Godly Book Reviews, April 9

Stories By GinaApril 10

Maureen’s Musings, April 10

Carla Loves To Read, April 11

Mary Hake, April 11

Inklings and notionsApril 11

Inspired by Fiction, April 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 12

BigreadersiteApril 13

As He Leads is Joy, April 13

Texas Book-aholic, April 14

The Becca Files, April 14

janicesbookreviews, April 15

A Reader’s Brain, April 15


To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away a grand prize of a print copy of Songbird and $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

About J’nell Ciesielski

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days creating heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

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13 responses to “The Songbird and the Spy by J’nell Ciesielski – Book Review

  1. Sherry Moe

    This book just sounds amazing! I’m so impressed with J’nell’s creativity. There’s no way I could be inspired to write a book just from a movie, music, etc.

  2. My family and I all appreciate you bringing to our attention the book description of another great book to read. Thanks so much!