Blog Book Tour | “Unlocking Worlds: a reading companion for book lovers” by Sally Allen

Posted Friday, 18 December, 2015 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for “Unlocking Worlds” hosted by iRead Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “Unlocking Worlds” direct from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this particular non-fiction topical book on reading appealed to me:

If I were to be earnest, I’d say I have had a curiosity about ‘metafiction’ and non-fiction works for quite a bit of time – those curious delights inter-related to the craft of writing and the tomes of stories writers give us on an annual basis. Metafiction by definition is a collective work about how fiction becomes writ and how it’s story is technically put together. For me, I like the broader term to encompass any work that seeks to enlighten the reader about the benefits of reading and how reading is singularly a unique visitation with worlds writ through the eyes of writers we may never have the pleasure of knowing personally but whose worlds have given us such a breadth of joy as to give us this awe-inspiring moment of clarity.

I haven’t picked up the habit of selecting non-fiction works to read each year, as my non-fiction selections are such a random allotment of subjects, topics and near fanciful treats of unexpected delights, I simply do not make it an organised effort to consume more of this literary scope as well I should. What drew me into this particular release is how it was spoken about prior to seeing the book arrive by Post. It lent the impression that this was not only meant for ‘readers’ but for those who are passionately addicted to reading – to give themselves over to the stories and to allow the stories to give them back a piece of their memories for having spent a moment settled in thought and mirth of exploration of that world.

Blog Book Tour | “Unlocking Worlds: a reading companion for book lovers” by Sally AllenUnlocking Worlds
Subtitle: a reading companion for book lovers
by Sally Allen
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

Award-winning writer and teacher Sally Allen knows that good books don’t just draw us in; they talk to us, shape us, and transport us to times, places, and minds different from our own.

In Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers, Allen deftly weaves personal stories with fifteen thematized, annotated, and illustrated reading lists for what to read next. By sharing some of the treasures in her library and the secret lives they reveal, she gives us permission to embrace the shameless book lover inside each of us. Unlocking Worlds is a testament to how reading passionately — and compassionately — can unlock the world beyond our back yard. Celebrating books and those who read them, Allen shows how the solitary act of reading can be a powerful thread that creates community and connection.

Thought-provoking and eloquent, Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers is a must-have for anyone who can’t leave the house without a book in hand.

Places to find the book:

ISBN: 9780983644613

Genres: Classical Literature, Literary Fiction, Metafiction, Non-Fiction


Published by Griffins Wharf Productions

on 2nd September 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 248

Available Formats: Paperback

About Sally Allen

Sally Allen

Award winning writer and teacher Sally Allen holds a Ph.D. from New York University in English Education, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and a M.A. in English Language and Literature. She teaches writing, literature, and communications, leads book group discussions, and is the founder and editor of Books, Ink at HamletHub.

My Review of Unlocking Worlds:

Reading is a legacy of words and worlds – characters and emotions, with the convicting heart of writers who have given us something to chew on and appreciate that exists outside our own living reality whilst rooting us in both time and setting within their own. For writers create a lifeblood of stories which percolate inside our mind’s eye long after the chapters are devoured, the suspense is revealled and the plots have woven their journey through our hearts. Stories which intercept us on our own timeclock and grant us this suspension of ‘now’ and the time in which we are living our own hours is a beautiful gift. To step inside a character’s life wholly true to how it’s being lived and finding a story which resonates with us on a deeper ‘heart intuitive level’ is one of the many joys I personally have as a reader.

Settling inside this repose of thought on behalf of reading and the readerly experience, is quite the delight for Allen is an intuitive reader (a reader who mirrors my own inclinations!) – one who initiates a telling truth about how books become the transformative experiences that grant us a bit of new truth and new light on our own lives whilst grounding us in the empathy of others. Novels are portals in which we seek to enter someone else’s thoughts whilst maintaining our curiosity about the world at large – a timescape of proportional observations based on where the writer was motivated to take us and how their pen crafted the story inked onto the page.

I mirror a lot of the enthusiasm Allen is describing in her book – especially on the interactive level of engaging directly with authors on a one-on-one basis through social media. I was the trepiderious tweeter – the girl who vowed she was never one for ‘social media’ and took to it like a duck takes to water! Seriously – the most gobsmacked person who found herself on Twitter is I! It’s the curiously curious ability to reach out through this nexus of microblogging our literary lives and interacting with the chatty bookish geeks who I see are of a similar feather as I am – the dearly inquisitive and happy conversationalist for the book world! It’s such a wondrous portal Twitter – you can find a well of inspiration as a writer, a book blogger and as a reader. The fact all of our avenues of creativity are intersecting and crisscrossing with each other is quite a remarkable feat! I still remember when I read a blog highlighting an author I truly want to read within the next year and an author friend of my ChocLitSaturdayers (i.e. I host a weekly Rom focused chat @ChocLitSaturday).

I also agree with Allen about how communication about books has become a bit of a mainstay our lives as generationally the conversations have become quite charmingly open. I find I appreciate interacting with readers of all ages, because you never know ‘who or whom’ your going to meet on Twitter – especially as I love to duck inside the chats. It’s this cross-section of imput and data being joyfully shared on both the merits of a #mustread or a #nextread interspersed with the craft of writing a novel and the lovely joys of #newbooks being released that can give a bookish girl an euphoric level of happiness each time she logins to her twitterverse!

There is no hidden boundary within the book world – social media has allowed those want to share their thoughts and ruminations a vehicle to find readers who want to read their content whilst allowing all of us the pleasure of a spontaneous convo at the same time. Twitter has it’s own pace and flow of information – some days, it’s simply a newsreel of announcements, other days it’s a cheeky bookish meme or a playful convo about a particular genre or a wicked sweet chat where you discover a #newtomeauthor. I love the connectivity and the engagements but mostly, I love the beauty of seeing what unfolds as I blog and tweet in-between the pages I am reading.

*Hint: for those whose bookish convos are as treasured as mine, a hidden resource for those of us seeking to remember fondly what was said and to whom we were chattering with at any given moment of our twitterverse adventures: do yourself a favour and download your Twitter Archive! It’s easier to search than Twitter’s search box and you get the rapid joy of re-visiting convos and remembering your own bookish journey!

The one interesting tidbit from Allen’s life that does not directly match my own journey is that she did not grow up watching television – for my family, the teleplays were as riveting as novels and the mini-series were special occurrences whilst tv movies were as cherished as their box office siblings. My parents loved where stories could take us – visually, internally and by heartbeat. I suppose in many ways each of us was individually inspired by our own familial environs – as I became a gatherer of ‘stories’ without preference for medium or voice, garnishing an appreciation for how a story can be told and how it’s story can be transmuted through my experience of internalising it’s central heart.

Key Chapters within that stood out to me the most:

(as previously I was commenting on the author’s prelude)

Chapter 1: Let Reading Change You

The intrinsic and organic way this book was developed into it’s form of revelations is what makes it a compelling read. As the cover art would implore you to realise about the instinctive nature of books being gateways and steps towards seeking worlds yet discovered, so too, is the context of the book to bridge that gap between curiosity, pensive re-prose and the lightning quickening of a fond memory wrapped inside the shoes of a person who only exists on the literary pages of a novel.

Allen breaks down what draws her eye and her inward thoughts into the scope of a novel by breaking down her interests into the key components that if they were absent, the novel would fall flat, leaving her without a method of entreaty to that particular story. As I read her thoughts on this aspect of reading, I found myself nodding and then, quite literally seeing a reflection of myself once more for we have the tendency to seek out the same key qualities of story-craft: a compelling and convicting narrative voice, the words which knit themselves into the language of the story itself (we each have our preferences on what takes us in/out of a story; I blogged mine in the past), ambiguity is something I struggle with (look no further than my review of ‘The Golem and the Jinni’) but if it’s underscored by Hope, I too find solace; emotional reads with heart and soul are definitely at the top of my list of #mustread choices! She went a bit further inside this section, but what I appreciated the most is how despite our go-to references being a bit different from each other, we are each seeking an experience that gives us ‘something’ that stays with us after the novel is finished. To entreat and to participate inside this literary life if only for a sparse moment of our time and yet the after effects are effectively life long.

Chapter 5: Novels in Letters and Multiple Perspectives

I was so very dearly consumed by Letters from Skye (see review) there came a point in time I had forgotten about the uniqueness of it’s telling and how the letters themselves became this addiction I had to devour because the entirety of the story was foretold and explored through missives and correspondences – start to finish! It single-handedly launched me on a journey towards singling out other stories that would have the same dexterity of depth with the breadth of a drama that could slowly unfold and pull me inside it’s orbit.

I champion multiple perspectives ever since I read The Shell Seekers finding I appreciated Pilcher’s preference for alternating not only point of view but the internal conflicts of her characters. This is one strong reason I felt I could absorb myself into heartier classics like War and Peace. Even the epic production behind The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy by Peter Jackson was waxing a wanton appreciation for finding another creative who loved wrapping his head around large ensemble casts; as he directed the majority of the sequences from ten monitors and one location. Each monitor thereby relating to another ‘set’ under his command. I was riveted by the documentary because it showcased how you could not only multi-task but how you could re-envision how to organise a cast and a story dimensionally on film. Thus says the girl who caught the films in lieu of reading the stories by order of Middle Earth; alas, the day shall arrive one of these years! Mind you, I did the same with Harry Potter’s world with the exception of reading all of book one and only a quarter (if I were lucky!) of book two!

Chapter 6: Novels about Connection Community and Family

Clearly this is a no-brainer why it would be an attractive chapter for me to read, as most of my blog is evident of my focus on hearth, home and family. I even find that most of the tv serials I watch are a spin of a play on ‘family’ and how ‘family’ can be re-defined. Tune into any crime drama and you’ll find a family of souls who truly care about each other and seek to protect not only their partners or team, but the general public. (for curiosity sakes my current favourites are: Castle (although moderately vexing in story-lines), CSI:Cyber (miss last season’s showrunner as this year has more grisly bits), Murdoch Mysteries (it’s simply divine and wicked good!), Foyle’s War (heart-stirring historical), Limitless (dynamically different), Blindspot (well thought out plots & wicked good actors), Supergirl (I am her BFF!), *all!* three NCIS (and previously JAG which started them all) and Quantico (although a bit numbing to wait for the revelations). The Mysteries of Laura lost favour somewhere between letting go of the quirky character I loved and hiring a new Captain who made no sense to be added to the squad.

Chapter 17: Reconciling the Inevitable: We Cannot Read All The Books

Dare. I. Admit? I still haven’t succeeded at this and I face my first ‘backlog’ as a book blogger in 2016 (see my blog calendar). I think the hardest part of being a reader who is dearly invested in the experience of reading, admitting defeat in the midst of life’s circumstances or health woes or an epic Summer of lightning storms (see this post, last entry); becomes a bit of a personal vexation because you try to correlate how the ‘time winked off the clock’ and did not yield to a more productive reading hour.

I think Allen states it quite plainly and well when she re-iterated what is truly the truth: some stories are difficult to soak inside but more oft than naught, it’s the stories we are intrigued to read the most that might elude us. Sometimes we have to wait for the right moment to read a novel, to allow the story to fuse to our minds and to give in to that inevitable solemn truth that for each story we are jazzed about finding and spending our hours inside (as most recently were my first jaunts inside The Clan Chronicles); we are missing another story that is just out of view. Perhaps it will come back into focus, perhaps it was never meant to be in our hands. But the hope of what we ‘could find’ inside that book is what charms the graceful action towards ‘trying to read it’ rather than abandoning ship on the idea completely. At least, this is my preferable approach.

In regards to my backlog, it was a culmination of events, where one step back led to more books lost to the sands of time eclipsing me off the clock of 2015. We have to give ourselves a bit more encouragement and ease of guilt – the stories haven’t gone anywhere after all. Their still on our shelves bidding their time, watchful in their patience and alluring us with their characters of whom we hope will remain one of our most favourite reads. Thus expanding our tapestry of stories and characters and world building spectaculars.

I definitely found a like-minded soul in Allen — she’s a reader’s reader if there ever were an example of how to clearly empathsis the world of books and the passionate joy their stories give to us all. I am truly thankful I had a chance to spend time with her elocution of this shared passion and find a bit more peace on my path towards reconciling my own road towards embracing the books which alight in my hands.

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The novels mentioned inside I itch to read myself:

(if you pick this book up you will recognise why these stories stood out to me originally)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (coincidentally I recently was gifted a copy!)

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd*

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Sean Andrew Greer

2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino**

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern***

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick+

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (I grew up with my Mum’s appreciation of this one!)

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (remember dear hearts, this post?)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (earmarked this for Austen in August & learnt tonight it’s cancelled; decided to go solo with my plans)

Howard’s End by E.M. Forster (had no idea it was a book when I saw the film after ‘Remains of the Day’)

Longbourn by Jo Baker

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

84, Charring Cross Road by Helen Hanff

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Tales of Men and Ghosts by Edith Wharton (esp as I loved her Ghost Stories!)

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (I haven’t see an adaptation I haven’t loved!)

*only discovered due to Allen’s cross-reference

**title I attempted to read for a blog tour

***began at Christmastime two years past and yet to finish

+ another time I opted for film over book

I should say my main preference is to read a book ahead of it’s motion picture adaptation, as that truly is what I always had done previously, but some years I find myself unable to soak inside the novel ahead of a film’s release and rather than await the point in time I can devout time to such an endeavour, I have at times, gone against my preference and seen the film. Either at the theater directly or happily found the film at my local library. Sometimes if a story is calling to you, irregardless of the format it’s taken to be told, sometimes you have to listen to your inner spirit and soak the story inside your spirit.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Click through via the badge to find out what else awaits you!

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Reader Interactive Question:

What gives you the most intriguing joy to pick up a #ClassicReads for the first time? What makes you return for a second reading? And what invigorates your journey through time and setting as you read?

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Sharing via: #NonFicFriday + NonFictionFriday

#NonFictionFriday hosted by Doing Dewey. Badge created by Doing Dewey and used with permission.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Unlocking Worlds: a reading companion for book lovers”, book synopsises, author photograph of Sally Allen and author biography were all provided by iRead Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. #NonFictionFriday hosted by Doing Dewey. Badge created by Doing Dewey and used with permission.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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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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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Unlocking Worlds: a reading companion for book lovers” by Sally Allen

  1. Thank you for this very thoughtful and fascinating piece! And I LOVE that you included the long list of reads you want to check out. It’s so fascinating to hear about what resonated with you and why and to learn more about your own reading life. :)

    • Good afternoon, Ms Allen!

      My apologies for a late reply – I took ill in December and had a tragic loss in January; I feel as if March has renewed my spirit and I can pick up from whence I left off with everything – including of course, following up with my commenters! :)

      Dear my, yes! One of my favourite parts about reading your book was recognising how many lovelies I want to read next and how I would love to make a mark towards that goal over the course of 2016. Towards Summer, I’ll be settling my mind and heart inside the books on my personal shelves inasmuch as those I can borrow from my local library – I’ve been sorting out a better balance inside my reading life, where I can still host authors on blog tours but also, start to move towards reading the books I never had a proper chance to become introduced too outside of that arena. Your book simply allowed me to focus on stories I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading and I took great joy in putting the list together!

      I love sharing my reading life but I also, love finding out about the reading lives of others – I felt this book was a gateway to opening up a conversation, and for that, I was blessed I met your book! Thank you for being so warmly open in the chapters, to give of yourself in order to help others sort out which of the stories you were talking about might appeal to them or in rare instances, ones to avoid. Thankful our paths crossed!!

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