The Songbird and the Spy Review and Author Interview!

I am so excited to welcome J’nell Ciesielski to the blog today. She may be new to the writing world, but her stories pack a big punch! I think that maybe she’s been secretly writing for years under a different name. Maybe? Okay, no that is not the case at all. But that’s how good her writing is my friends. If you not read either of her books, well shame on you! I encourage you to go grab them today 🙂

About the Book

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?

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Perspective

Ever since I read Among the Poppies, I have been anxiously awaiting the next book from J’nell Ciesielski. Her writing was and is way beyond what I would expect from a new author. She is poised, a natural, engaging, and so on and so on. Let me put your suspicions about book two aside – it is equally amazing as the first book.

Readers are instantly transported to France in the Nazi era. From the very first chapter, Ciesielski had my attention. She has the ability not only to make you feel the setting around you, but see the scenes play out vividly in your imagination. In my mind I would talk to Claire, telling her what she should and should not do. (side note – I know she can’t hear me, and I know it’s just a book, but admit it – you talk to characters too!) I could see myself sitting at a table, and listening to her beautiful voice fill the room. I could see myself next to Captain Reiner each time he had to do something that made him cringe. Each time he had to pretend to be on the other side of the war, feeling my body tense up probably much like his did. I’m telling you, this story will suck you right in and gain the focus of all 0f your senses!

Aside from this, Ciesielski has managed to write a story of hope. A story of good versus bad, and how sometimes bad things happen to good people. But that’s what makes them grow. That’s what makes them stronger. Seeing Reiner and Claire come together was thrilling and exciting. Probably because of the secrecy, and wondering if they were going to get caught. This reader was on the edge of her seat for the entire story, and found myself sighing once I reached the end. The truth is I didn’t want it to be over. But Ciesielski knows better than me – the ending was perfectly timed and written if I’m honest. But it does make me hunger for more of her books. This is an author to watch for. This is an author that needs to be on everyone’s favorites list – yes she is that good. I cannot wait to see what comes next!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Interview with J’nell

Hi J’nell! Welcome to the blog today! It appears in your writing that you have a deep love for history. Where does your love of history stem from?

Ever since I was little, history was more alive to me than the modern world. Going to the library, I’d grab an armload of history books and biographies and sit down on the floor for a good read in times gone by. Paces were slower, morals were stronger, manners more ingrained, and simplicity ruled. Now, I realize I’m generalizing things through rose-tinted glasses, but that’s the writer in me J

Does your hubby share your love of history?

He’s coming around. When we first met, I don’t really think he thought about history too much, but after being dragged around to visit crumbling castles and ancient battlefields he started to see how cool it is. He likes to call me a walking guidebook (he once referred to me as Tour Guide Barbie to a stranger in Iceland) because I can recall oddball facts at random which he takes amusing pride in. 

I think Tour Guide Barbie is about the hit the shelves! Who’s your favorite historical figure?

Ooh, that’s a toughie. There hasn’t been one I’ve been particularly fangirling over, but there are some I find fascinating. Robert E. Lee, George Washington, Queen Boadicea, and Ludwig II of Bavaria the Swan King.

Your latest novel, The Songbird and The Spy is centered around WWII. What was the most difficult part of writing this novel?

WWII is such a well-documented time in history. We have film footage, radio programs, diaries, documentaries, actual locations, and vets to give accurate details of what life was like during that time. On one hand, that amount of knowledge is incredibly thrilling because it’s like a treasure trove of discoveries. On the other hand, that much knowledge can create a minefield because if you get one detail wrong your audience will know. I don’t think it’s ever a writer’s intent to give falsehoods, but it does happen for multitudes of reasons. Accurate research is so important to me, I take great pride in it, but there’s always a worry for me of getting something wrong.

A shorter answer would be the ending. I had to rewrite it at least three times.

Well the end result was perfect! What was the inspiration behind this story?

A Quentin Tarantino movie of all things. Inglourious Basterds to be exact. I was was immediately intrigued by Michael Fassbender’s character, a British soldier posing as a Nazi. There’s this great scene where he’s meeting with another spy in a bar all surrounded by Nazis and I thought I had to write that. What would it be like to pose as a Nazi, constantly worrying about discovering while having the very people he’s trying to help despise him? And guess what else was in that bar? A piano. Hmm, a pretty girl playing it could certainly distract him, but maybe she’s carrying her own secrets. Viola! Claire the American sang her way into Michael’s heart.

If you could live in any time period, what would it be?

I’d have to say the Edwardian, but with the caveat of being part of the rich elite. The fashion, the modern technology, the morals and manners all call to me. Although blonds weren’t in fashion at the time so I’d have to buy one of those big fancy hats to wear 🙂

Yes! I love the fashion from that time! How do you balance writing with mom life?

I don’t. Hahaha! Oh my gosh, this is so hard to do and I’ve yet to figure it out because when I’m doing one I feel as if I’m neglecting the other. My daughter goes to preschool only a few hours each week so I only get about 2-2 1/2 hrs a day to write. That’s not much time, but at this stage in life it is what it is. I try to keep in mind that she’ll only be this young once and at some point she’ll stop wanting to hang out with me all the time, but at the same time I want her to see her mom going after her passion.

Time goes by so quickly! I still can’t believe I have a 16 year old daughter!! I also happen to have a beagle – Bella the beagle. How’s your beagle, Daisy doing these days? Too bad our beagles couldn’t have a play date, ha!

Thank you for asking about Daisy! So few do which is a shame because she’s a sweet girl. Recently, we took her on a family getaway to the wild of Pennsylvania elk country. She went crazy for all the smells and bayed her head off when we spotted elk on the side of the road. In a few weeks she’s having a tooth extracted because it broke off, but thankfully she hasn’t been in pain.

Do you have a story brewing that readers can look forward to?? (pretty please say yes!)

Why yes I do! I’ll give you three to muse over. Right now I’m working on a beauty and the beast tale set in a WWI Scottish convalescent home. Once that’s finished, I’m thinking of sliding over to Russia just as the Revolution of 1917 is breaking out. There’s a certain noble lady fleeing the country who might need to meet a certain British soldier serving on the frontline. Marriage of convenience maybe? And lastly, I’ve been tossing around an idea for a contemporary novella series set in Scotland (where else) ala Austenland but Scottish (of course).

Squeee!!! I cannot wait!! Thank you so much for chatting with me today 🙂

About the Author

J'nell Ciesielski

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing 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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2 thoughts on “The Songbird and the Spy Review and Author Interview!

  1. Thank you for your review on “The Songbird and the Spy ” by J’nell Ciesielski.

    Enjoyed the interview with J’nell and can’t wait for the opportunity to read her latest book.

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