Tuesday, June 1, 2010

THE SECRET SPEECH: READING GROUP GUIDE, REVIEW, AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
THE SECRET SPEECH

BY TOM ROB SMITH

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Tom Rob Smith-the author whose debut, Child 44, has been called "brilliant" (Chicago Tribune), "remarkable" (Newsweek) and "sensational" (Entertainment Weekly)-returns with an intense, suspenseful new novel: a story where the sins of the past threaten to destroy the present, where families must overcome unimaginable obstacles to save their loved ones, and where hope for a better tomorrow is found in the most unlikely of circumstances . . .


THE SECRET SPEECH


Soviet Union, 1956. Stalin is dead, and a violent regime is beginning to fracture-leaving behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. A secret speech composed by Stalin's successor Khrushchev is distributed to the entire nation. Its message: Stalin was a tyrant. Its promise: The Soviet Union will change.
Facing his own personal turmoil, former state security officer Leo Demidov is also struggling to change. The two young girls he and his wife Raisa adopted have yet to forgive him for his part in the death of their parents. They are not alone. Now that the truth is out, Leo, Raisa, and their family are in grave danger from someone consumed by the dark legacy of Leo's past career. Someone transformed beyond recognition into the perfect model of vengeance. From the streets of Moscow in the throes of political upheaval, to the Siberian gulags, and to the center of the Hungarian uprising in Budapest, THE SECRET SPEECH is a breathtaking, epic novel that confirms Tom Rob Smith as one of the most exciting new authors writing today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tom Rob Smith graduated from Cambridge University in 2001 and lives in London. His first novel, Child 44, was a New York Times bestseller and an international publishing sensation. Among its many honors, Child 44 won the ITW 2009 Thriller Award for Best First Novel, The Strand Magazine 2008 Critics Award for Best First Novel, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. You can visit Tom's website at www.TomRobSmith.com and follow @tomrobsmith on Twitter.


READING GROUP GUIDE:

You can find information on the Reading Group Guide HERE. I also have included the discussion questions from the guide. This would make a wonderful book group choice! Another good source for your group is the Book Website which is HERE.

Discussion Questions:
• Zoya and Elena’s true parents were killed by an officer under Leo’s command. Do you think Leo was morally required to take care of them?

• When Leo was a member of the state security force, it was his job to arrest many of his fellow citizens. To what degree should he be held responsible for his past actions, even though he was doing his duty and following orders?


• How do you think the political atmosphere and the role of women in society affected Fraera’s transformation from a priest’s wife to a vory leader?


• Raisa seems willing to sacrifice her relationship with Leo to save Zoya. What do you think of her decision?


• As rioting gulag prisoners prepare to execute Sinyavksy, the camp commander, he pleads that he should be spared because in addition to the terrible things he has done while running the gulag, he has also tried help when he could. “Can I not try and put right the wrongs I have done?” he asks. Should the prisoners have given him a second chance?


• Zoya ends up seeking her revenge on Leo by joining Fraera’s gang, but in doing so she hurts her little sister, the only family she still has. What do you think of Zoya’s actions?


• Leo was trained to be a devoted, loyal servant of the State, but he forged an unorthodox path for himself outside of the security services, despite the clear risk. Why do you think he was able to do this, when so many others couldn’t or wouldn’t?


• At the end of the story we meet a musician who is revered as a genius, but his work was actually stolen from another composer who died in the gulags. If he were to reveal the true source of his music, he would be exposed as a fraud and arrested as a thief. Now riddled with guilt he asks Leo, “What would you have me do?” How would you answer?


• There are many “secrets” in this story—Leo choosing to not tell Raisa what he knows about Zoya and the knife, Raisa keeping her meeting with Fraera from Leo, and Khrushchev’s Speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party, are only a few—and the question of what the consequences for keeping those secrets might be plays out in ways large and small throughout. Do you feel there are situations in the book where characters were right to keep their secrets? What about the final scene with Leo, Zoya, and Elena? Should Zoya tell her sister the whole truth?


REVIEW:

Tom Rob Smith has written a follow-up to his award winning CHILD 44 and many fans anticipated its release. Now that follow-up, THE SECRET SPEECH, is available in paperback format so that if you missed it you have a chance to experience an author who knows his craft. THE SECRET SPEECH is yet again an “edge of your seat” suspenseful novel that centers around the Soviet Union and the secretive society the people live in. Leo Stepanovick Demidov and his beautiful school teacher wife, Raisa, are the main part of the story as it focuses on their family life to begin with.

That family life is shattered when one of their two young adopted sisters, Zoya and Elena, who were the daughters of a couple murdered by MGB agents that were acting for Leo but failed to follow his orders, is kidnapped. Zoya is now 14 and has never forgiven Leo for the death of their parents. With the
kidnapping, Leo is shaken because his work has now put his family in danger . While poor Leo is just trying to make a go of the family and supporting them with his detective work, he never thought his work would involve one of his girls. He gets pulled into the political crisis because the kidnapper is a woman who is a criminal and leads a dangerous gang. She evidently knows Leo and can’t forget that it was Leo who got her husband sent away. Leo must risk everything to conquer this foe and get his daughter back.

The book moved a little slower than CHILD 44 but it is still very interesting and has enough plot twists to keep you reading to find out what will happen next. There is a lot of history and politics in the story that are true so you can tell that Tom Rob Smith did a good job on his research. He even gives a list of resources at the end of the book to help those who are interested in finding out more about this subject and era. If you liked CHILD 44, you will enjoy THE SECRET SPEECH. If you didn’t read the first book, you may want to do that first because even though this story can stand on its own, it is better if you have the background from Smith’s first novel.


GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO VALERIE AND MY FRIENDS
AT THE HACHETTE BOOK GROUP,
I HAVE THREE COPIES OF THIS
EXCITING BOOK TO GIVEAWAY!

THE RULES:

--U.S. AND CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES, PLEASE
--INCLUDE EMAIL ADDRESS IN COMMENT
--ALL ENTRIES/COMMENTS MUST BE
SEPARATE IN ORDER TO COUNT
AS MORE THAN ONE ENTRY



HOW TO ENTER

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON THE FOLLOWING AUDIO EXCERPT YOU CAN LISTEN TO HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT THE SECRET SPEECH BY GOING TO THE BOOK'S WEBSITE HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE OTHER CURRENT GIVEAWAY YOU HAVE ENTERED FROM MY BLOG

+5 MORE ENTRIES: RECEIVE +5 BONUS ENTRIES BY GOING TO THE SWAGBUCKS LINK UNDER MY BINGO BUDDY IN THE RIGHT HAND COLUMN AND SEARCHING AND JOINING UP FOR SWAGBUCKS. COME BACK AND TELL ME YOU DID THAT. BY THE WAY, IF YOU DO THAT, YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO ADD +5 BONUS ENTRIES TO ANY, AND ALL, GIVEAWAYS DURING THE MONTH OF JUNE. IF YOU ENTER, YOU MAY ALSO HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO SEARCH FOR SOMETHING AND GAIN OTHER ENTRIES THIS JUNE.

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, JUNE 15

GOOD LUCK!

29 comments:

traveler said...

I entered Husband and Wife giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I listened to the excerpt which had me riveted and would enjoy learning more. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

The website is very interesting and unique with extremely fascinating information. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

It sounds intriguing. I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

The timeline brought back a lot of times that I had forgotten. This is a very interesting website.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I also entered the Innocent giveaway

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Melanie said...

I liked the whole look of the website and the music that played in the background.

peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

Melanie said...

Listening to the audio clip was interesting, how it said he felt he had to turn in his own family member who was then executed.

Melanie said...

I also entered The Cradle giveaway.

peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

Glenn said...

I also entered the giveaway for Innocent. I read Child 44 a few months back and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the giveaway.

glenn_pessano AT yahoo DOT com

bison61 said...

I listened to the AUDIO EXCERPT and it does sound like an exciting book

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Christine H said...

This sounds like a book for my husband. I think he'd like it.

chirth7@yahoo.com

Christine H said...

I thought i website was cool I clicked on evidence and it talked about Stalin. I know my husband would love this book.

chirth7@yahoo.com

Christine H said...

+5 for swag bucks

chirth7@yahoo.com

Christine H said...

I entered EAT THE COOKIES BUY THE SHOES GIVEAWAY

chirth7@yahoo.com

409cope said...

This sounds like a good audio full of suspense.cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

409cope said...

I entered the Three Wishes giveaway.cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

409cope said...

I find it interesting that this story is set during the clod war.cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

Jaime said...

how hard it must be to make a decision like that
copperllama at yahoo dot com

Christine H said...

I entered THE LONG WAY HOME GIVEAWAY

chirth7@yahoo.com

Christine H said...

I checked out the website and went to evidence and it talks about Stalin this is definately for my husband he'd love this book.

chirth7@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

I found the excerpt a little boring, but I'm giving the book if I win to my son in law. He'll love this book.
shundelt@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

The website is neat to look at but none of it interestes me, I see it talks about the Soviet Union, this is for my son in law though.
shundelt@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

+5 for swag bucks
shundelt@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

SPENT GIVEAWAY
shundelt@yahoo.com

Terry Mac said...

The audio excerpt definitely has caught my interest.....especially the part about three words causing a man to commit suicide. "Under tortue IKA"

I love history, and this one sounds quite accurate....even if fictional.

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

Terrymac said...

I am a fan.

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

Terry Mac said...

The website of Secret Speech gives so many good reviews, like the one from Kikus Review 'Superb Thriller'. From the audio, and the written reviews, this book definitely sounds like a must read!

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

Terrymac said...

I also entered Fever Dream giveaway.
Both books have my interst. I would really enjoy reading them.

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

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