Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.
If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/
This is the third post from author Marjorie Mallon (M.J Mallon) and this week I have selected one of the over 100 book reviews in her archives from 2015. This book is by another author in the Cafe and Bookstore Nicholas Rossis.. for Runaway Smile.
My Kyrosmagica Review of Nicholas Rossis’s Runaway Smile by M.J. Mallon
“I woke up this morning and I had lost my smile and it wasn’t my fault and I looked everywhere and it was gone. Then I met a workman and a king and the best salesman in the world and a clown and no-one wanted to give me theirs. At school, I asked Miss to give me hers, but she gave us a pop quiz instead, and then no-one was smiling and…”
A little boy wakes up in the morning and realizes he has lost his smile. After spending the entire day trying to find it, he learns the truth behind smiles: the only real smiles are the shared ones.
The title to this children’s book really intrigued me, Runaway Smile. How can a smile runaway? Nicholas did make this little boys smile runaway, but thankfully he returned it to him in the end!
It is a wonderful children’s book, an enthralling and heartwarming journey to search for one little boy’s lost smile. Nicholas introduces us to a whole host of eccentric characters. (What an imagination, Nicholas!!) The boy’s dog wears glasses, smokes a pipe, and drives a car but has lost his sense of smell, there’s a closet monster who eats all of the boy’s clothes, and even a bunch of surf boarding ants!
In his quest to find his smile the little boy talks to a bunch of characters who just can’t help him. There’s a workman walking his goldfish in a bowl on a small cart! Hey, I see this everyday too. Just regular workman kind of activity! A king with a wide smile. A salesman with an even wider one, and a clown with a painted on smile. I particularly liked the character of the salesman whose smile disappears, and ages, when he realises that he can’t sell the boy anything. “The salesman took a mirror from his pocket and stared at his image. All of a sudden he looked very old and tired, and the boy wondered how he could have missed the thinning hair, deep wrinkles, and expanding waistline.” That one’s for my husband he’s worked in Sales all his life and well let’s just say it’s tough. Being a Sales Manager, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
I’m digressing here a bit. In desperation, the boy turns to his teacher hoping that she will be able to help him. But she doesn’t think that a classroom is the right place to keep a smile! So, by the time he gets home to his mum he is in tears and has given up hope of finding his smile. But of course his mother is the only person that can help him, because the only true smile that exists is a genuine one straight from the heart. The final reflection that greets the boy is not a false one like the salesman’s reflection. “The boys eyes opened wide. He ran to the mirror to check his reflection. She was right! A wide smile had finally appeared on his face!”
The secret to keeping his smile is to share it with those he loved. Absolutely. That’s the secret.
“She tussled his hair. Anything you give with love, multiplies. No-one can take it from you then.”
So the boy promptly goes off to share his smile with his dog. Of course!
The book finishes with a lovely Ode to a runaway smile.
So, definitely recommended, a very sweet book and lovely illustrations too.
Nicolas C. Rossis From his About page on WordPress:
I was born in 1970 in Athens, Greece. I love books and write fantasy, children’s books and science fiction. Except for my books, I have had numerous science fiction short stories published in Greek magazines and in an anthology.
I hold a doctorate in digital architecture from the University of Edinburgh, where I lived for a number of years before returning to Athens, where I currently live with my wife, dog and two very silly cats, one of whom is purring on my lap as I type these lines.
Runaway Smile is his first children’s book. Mad Water, the third book in his epic fantasy series, Pearseus, was published in July 2014. He has also published The Power of Six, a collection of short sci-fi stories.
Authors Website: http://nicholasrossis.me/
Free book for those following Nicholas’s Blog: http://nicholasrossis.me/2014/12/07/my-first-childrens-book-runaway-smile/
Illustrator: Dimitris Fousekis
Dimitri Fouseki, is an artist of Greek origin who makes innovative illustrations. Since 2003 he has successfully focused on illustrating mainly children’s books. He already has numerous publications in Greece in this field (nine so far, with a number of further publications pending). Since 2010, Dimitri has been living on the beautiful island of Hydra, where he teaches art and works on his first major exhibition as a painter, when not illustrating.
© M. J. Mallon 2015
Have you read Runaway Smile? Please comment below Marjorie would love to hear from you, it certainly would put a smile on her face…
About Marjorie Mallon
I am a debut author who has been blogging for many moons: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, and middle grade fiction as well as micropoetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 Book Reviews
My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong.
As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters.
When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.
On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.
Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.
Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.
With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?
A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.
One of the recent reviews for the book
Forget your vampires and the dystopian future worlds, where you have to do some strange stuff for an undisclosed reason, I prefer a story that starts from a known place. You can get as weird as you like but please, make it a logical progression, not just the lazy ‘we’re in the future; civilisation as we know it is dead, this (insert some random game or test) is what happens these days, for no apparent reason’, sort of premise.
So, we meet Amelina, she’s just your standard teenage girl, I had three daughters; I get the comparison. And she’s a very well written character, as they all are. A little family weirdness, parents who have changed, from her perspective at the start it’s hard to see why. There’s a black cat who appears and a girl trapped in the mirrors in the house. And the obligatory interesting relative.
Then we come to her peers, a wannabee rock band and the strange guy called Ryder, who saves her from a couple of potentially dangerous boys. As the story develops, we see him in different shades, is he a good guy or not?
It turns out that Amelina may have the solution to all the problems that seem to beset her family. It’s all to do with crystals and gaining the knowledge to use them.
The story never falters, set around Cambridge and its landmarks, we follow Amelina’s journey as she seeks to uncover the reason for her father’s disappearance, why is he so different now that he’s back? Surely, this must also hold the key to her mother’s behaviour, explain why she’s so uptight and unwilling to talk about anything.
She must learn to use the power that she discovers she has; while dealing with all the other things that your average teenager has going on. The narrative is well thought out and we can see the development of Amelina as we are pulled by the strength of the writing towards the final pages.
All the characters are all well drawn and fit together perfectly. The things that Amelina finds and uses, from her paints to her drums are well thought out and well described. There’s a bit of fantasy, as well as some beautifully written dream sequences.
The overall world-building creates a wonderful, spiritual atmosphere. There’s a bit of poetry at the start of every chapter, a nice touch which leads us into the action. The story bravely tackles issues of mental health and self-harm, but in such a sensitive way that it can only help improve understanding.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, it resonated on so many levels, I understand a sequel is in progress, that will be on my list.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L
And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L
Find more reviews and follow M.J. Mallon on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon
Connect to Marjorie
My thanks to Marjorie for allowing me access to her wonderful archives and I hope you will head over and explore more for yourself. Thanks Sally.