Friday, June 8, 2018

Book Review: 'Florence' by Bradley Charbonneau

Author Bradley Charbonneau has published several children’s books and travel books, but in his ‘self-help’ genre he unveiled his own secrets for making life meaningful and successful. He wisely asked entrepreneur John Muldoon to provide a forward introduction to his work. John’s credentials include Founder of Monthly Experiments Project – ‘to help people make lasting changes in their lives by taking on 1-month personal challenges and experiments.’ EVERY SINGLE DAY is a book by two handsome young gentlemen who offer pathways to finding success and meaning to our lives.

And that bit of background allows the reader to appreciate fully Bradley’s accomplishments as a writer of children/young adult books – such as his series THE CHARLIE HOLIDAY BOOKS of which this is the first installment – FLORENCE.

As is Bradley’s tradition he provides a tempting appetizer before he starts his books. He has shared with us that ‘Charlie Holiday’ just came to him on his computer while writing one day and from the story of a lad who ‘just knows’ this series had to come out!

The Prologue explains – ‘Whew. Yeah. Where to begin? That’s just it. What’s really the beginning? What’s the middle? The end? Who knows. So we’re starting here. It’s the first time that Charlie Holiday has a sense that there is truly something more. You see, he’s always been someone who believed that his life was special or extraordinary or, well, at least would be at some point. “Later.” But when was that later moment supposed to really arrive? He certainly didn’t know. In the meantime, life was passing along. Passing him by in some ways. Until one evening. In Florence. In Italy. He didn’t choose the location, the timing, or any of it. It just happened. Or did it? Was it all her? Was it all coincidence? Or is he part of something larger? A small piece in a churning machine that he has yet to even peek behind the curtain of? And why him? Why not you? No reason it’s him. No reason it’s not you. In fact, maybe it’s not him and it is you. That’s what he’s about to find out. Welcome to Florence.
It’s late. It’s dark. It’s time to go.’

In Bradley’s charming manner he introduces the mind of Charlie, an empath, with a style of writing that matches his paranormal situation – ‘Charlie Holiday saw something, but it might have been nothing. Even if he had seen it, he wasn't sure he would believe it. But if he believed it, did he see it? He closed his eyes and let the hum of the taxi lull him into a relaxed state and he hoped the hotel was deep into the city so he'd have just a few more precious minutes where he didn't have to think or do or plan or be anyone but a passenger riding into the center of Florence, Italy, for the first time. It had been a long day. They stopped and started, slowed and revved up. Took corners as if they were in a hurry. He wondered how you said 'We're not in a hurry' in Italian. Or even better, We'd like to take the scenic route and I don't really care if we ever get to the destination in Italian? He sank deeper into his seat and hoped the rest of his family was doing the same. He tried to keep his eyes closed, but every time he opened them, there seemed to be something more interesting to see than the back of his eyelids. Then it happened again. He reached over to touch his wife's shoulder as his eyes connected with a young woman standing in a crowd in front of a bar. It was almost midnight, but the city was buzzing with people. Her eyes seemed to light up like a cat at night, but she wasn't a cat although it was night.’

Magical writing for a magical story. Bradley Charbonneau has style! Grady Harp, June 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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