Blog Book Tour | “Salt the Snow” by Carrie Callaghan

Posted Sunday, 2 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

I received a complimentary of “Salt the Snow” direct from the author Carrie Callaghan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read “Salt the Snow”:

Rather uniquely, I cannot readily remember the EXACT moment & reason I wanted to read this novel; except to say, it felt like the kind of Historical narrative I was seeking for the New Year. The first to kick-off my new pursuit of Feminist Historical Fiction and the first entry towards securing more Biographical Historical Fiction into my everyday pursuit of the historic past; in essence, I was DRAWN towards “Salt the Snow” – reading it felt like the natural endgame for me after being smitten by the premise!

There is a curious quotation by Milly Bennett ahead of Chapter One which I felt implored a few notations about: as it struck to ask you, if you had your druthers would you OR would you not have been tempted to arrive inside your life a century prior to your actual birth!? The plausibilities of a response are all-encompassing depending on your own perspective of the theory it produces – however for me, it would be a better question to ask “if you could travel within the scope of known history & the time it which we have lived in those years – would you travel outside your own lifetime?”

And, that leads me into my pursuit of Historical Fiction as a genre interest & as a pursuit of literature devouted to the past & to the explorations of those who not only lived *but!* could have lived if they are completely fictional & byproduct of the author’s imagination. For those stories give us a cursory window into life as it could have been & the trajectory of where life is still progressing towards becoming. All of life is an experiment in learning – of growth through experience and the compassionate ways in which we interconnect with not just our own humanity but the collective conscience which threads our humanity. If we read the past, we are better insulated for the future but all of history cannot always prepare of us for the present.

This particular novel simply stood out to me to be read and I found that it was the first novel of 2020 I could lay my thoughts inside after a jarring beginning to a New Year whose first few weeks were rather crushing to the spirits of a girl who tries to focus on the positives & now feel weighed down by the negatives. My soul still is remorse & in grief for the Australian bush wildlife & the people who were in jeopardy of losing their own lives – either by the fires or the humbled attempts to save the wildlife who called those areas their home.

My gratitude to Ms Callaghan for giving me a hearty story to chew on & find myself entreating into her novel with a renewal of joy for finding her story.

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Blog Book Tour | “Salt the Snow” by Carrie CallaghanSalt the Snow
by Carrie Callaghan
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

American journalist Milly Bennett has covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. But his arrest reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve. Disillusioned and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience, and her heart. Salt the Snow is a vivid and impeccably researched tale of a woman ahead of her time, searching for her true calling in life and love.

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Time Slip and/or Time Shift

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781948705646

Published by Amberjack Publishing, Chicago Review Press

on 4th February, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 304

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Published by: Amberjack Publishing (@amberjackpub)
an imprint of Chicago Review Press (@ChiReviewPress)

Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #SaltTheSnow and #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Carrie Callaghan

Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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my review of salt the snow:

We enter into Milly’s life at the point where everything starts to unravel. Fittingly it is a perception of what is happening in her life when supposition and suspicion fall on those she loves and cares after – whilst we speculate about the actions which led-in to this beginning, you also start to see the brash and abrasive personality of Milly come full circle. She’s a bold as brass speaker – not one to mince her words or to retreat from speaking openly frank about what what’s on her mind or where her thoughts lead her to draw conclusions about what she is witnessing. This blunted way of talking appears to land her in trouble more times than naught and it is here where we begin the journey into her life. On the occasion of seeing her vulnerable which is surprising as she doesn’t carry her vulnerability on her sleeve.

I found her rather curious – Milly saw the world through a different lens of perception, even in the early thirties as others might have felt there was hope gleaming out of the murkiness of the stock market’s crash and the after effects of an unstable marketplace, for Milly those kinds of events meant sudden death and a strong will to extract herself from the fray. It was here where we saw her bracing for a new adventure aboard; shedding the decadence of her life’s choices stateside, she opted to tackle a new journalistic journey at a paper in Moscow. It was here where we found her on a ship making small courtesies with her dining companion but only tolerating him thus far – as what loomed ahead of her was the prospect of a future and not the melancholic remnants of a past she was firmly placing behind her voyage.

Zhenya entered her life when she was searching for someone and not realising what she was trying to find – caught inside her own loneliness and the isolation of not having a larger window of friends or a support system, you could understand what drew Zhenya and Milly together. They met rather spontaneously at a party and from there, it was a mutual love of music and performance which started their relationship but for me, I felt it was because Zhenya was an attempt to fill a void; one she felt she had overcome before leaving the states but had a renewal of fear that perhaps she was a bit too isolated from others.

As Callaghan presents Milly’s life – you see how she is immediately distanced by others – how the boys club of journalism tries to keep her removed from their circles even at moments where you might consider the opposite; that they are trying to draw her into their fold. It was striking how the paper she worked for wasn’t regarded with respect nor was her work therein. She had to fit a lot of battles of both will and conscience just to get through the days and it struck me with interest to see how she handled all of it. She had to find the balance between work and life bolstered by her will to succeed but moreso to tell the story. It was how she chased after stories and had this zest for being present in the journalism of her day that spoke the most truth about Milly Bennett.

In context of the story, Zhenya is accused of being gay despite being married to Milly; it is here where Callaghan explores the implications of this in regards to early 20th Century judgements against the LGBTQ+ community and the impressions of the community on those who encountered them. By all contrasts, this insertion into the story goes to highlight the prejudices of the era and also the fears of the generation whilst at the same time, I was surprised by this twist in the narrative as I hadn’t foreseen this as the reason for Zhenya’s imprisonment nor the anguish of grief from Milly as previously it seemed like there was another angle of injustice affecting their marriage.

The revelations about Zhenya’s sexuality were delayed from the reader’s view until after his conviction is revealled and even then, there is supposition about what was going on in his life prior to meeting Milly. It is Milly who appears to be caught between the man she felt she knew and loved and the life he had lived prior to her acquaintance. As we cycle back through their courtship, there are telling truths about Zhenya that are slowly coming back to light and showing how despite her earnestness, Milly was overlooking who he was and who was integral to his life. Whether this was the shortcomings of her misunderstandings as an American trying to settle into a new landscape and country or whether her loneliness overshadowed other truths she was not willing to admit to herself; Milly for all her worth shouldered the burdens of being blindsided by the law and by the outcome of having Zhenya imprisoned.

I only sought out a few glimpses of Milly online to ascertain the fictional from the fact of her account in Salt the Snow – finding Callaghan had definitely embraced her quirky nature inasmuch as her dedication to the field of journalism. She also embodied the spirit of Milly in a way I felt was authentically fitting of the woman who lived the life she had during the generations where most women were not living as freely as she had herself. She wasn’t confined by state nor country; she set her own rules and lived them accordingly. Especially in consideration how much ‘History’ was alive behind her windows of journalistic impressions, she lived on the edge without realising how close to it she was tipping towards dangerous crossings.

I found Salt the Snow refreshingly apprised of a woman’s journey towards truth and the quirks of living elsewhere from whence she was bourne. She had to endure a different code of conduct and propriety along with the cultural differences of living aboard and dealing with different rules and laws which applied to her and those she loved. The years in the novel itself fit within the time frame Milly was in Russia and I found it a curious spin on what could have occurred alongside what is known of her life there.

Having said that – there were aspects of the story and her life which did surprise me – especially in how she doesn’t seem to understand the finer points of what living a socialist life truly means and the ramifications of socialism on society. I found Milly lived her life against convention to a nearly self-destructive level of intensity because she never spent enough time considering her feelings and her emotional health for the entanglements she put herself through whilst living the high life. She also was more convinced of the story and the pursuit of it than she was about how she was living whilst she had to endure where the story was located. For the most part, Callaghan has you tied to the story as she’s telling it – yet there are passages where I felt the story lingered a bit too long or simply withdrew from the angst of the issues surrounding Milly’s distraught over her husband’s plight. It was too easy to lose your footing whilst awaiting further news about him and what Milly would ultimately choose to do with her life afterwards.

on the historical storycrafting styling of carrie callaghan:

Callaghan started the journey we take alongside Milly in 1934 before slipping back to the past where we find her in 1931. There is a lot building up to what happened to her husband and I felt a retrospective slip in time might be the best way to not just understand the events as they alighted in their lives but to offer more context and scope about why this was happening to them. Callaghan presents the story about Milly in a no nonsense manner of approach – she tells it like it is and allows Milly her own voice to tell you her own story.

The background of the setting and the heightened tensions and distrust of what is going on around them is also present – eluding to the emotional climax of when he is first arrested and taken away from Milly. You can feel this as it is affecting Milly – for all her bold words and her courage, there is a moment where she was at a loss for words and simply had to feel her emotions instead. Callagahan gave you enough fuell to understand that moment but also left you curiously hungry for the details to understand how that moment arrived.

The pacing of the novel is an interesting one as rather than long passages of thought about either timescape within the story – Callaghan trades off both within alternating chapters; giving you a strong footstep in both living moments of Milly’s life. This trade-off also provides keener insight into whom Milly was prior to her journey to undertake the position in Moscow but also re-aligns us with her mindset at the time she needed a new adventure to distract herself. It is a charming time slip from that angle as you are constantly threading yourself forward and back into distinctive periods of Milly’s life and drawing conclusions about the future already revealled. Likewise, it is imperative to take this journey back in time to better understand why Milly was overlooking certain truths which could have spared her the grief of the present. It is of itself a memory lost in the heart of a person who was too busy living her life to notice certain details without self-reflection.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this story contributed to my 2020 reading challenges:

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “Salt the Snow”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Carrie Callaghan, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review banner, 2020 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 2 February, 2020 by jorielov in 20th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Russia, Russian Literature, the Thirties

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3 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Salt the Snow” by Carrie Callaghan

    • Hallo, Hallo Susan,

      Thanks for swinging by my review for Salt the Snow – although it had its positives, I can’t claim it was my favourite discovery recently in Historical Fiction because there were certain aspects of the story which took me a bit outside the scope of it. I think it took a few left turns in the story’s direction and for whichever reason I couldn’t completely connect with the character; I’m thankful someone read this review and saw the positives and knew it would resonate with them even better than it did me. This warmed my heart knowing you’d have this title on your TBR and visited my own reactions to the story because I love sharing those reactions with you but also to find readers who might be better suited to a story I’ve recently read. I hope that whenever it alights in your life to read, it will be one you’ll love.

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