Bracy Ratcliff's Blog

September 14, 2012

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I'm very disappointed. After Fevre Dream I was really looking forward to another Martin story. My son read this--and that makes me more disappointed. First, Martin introduced perhaps 40 characters in the first few chapters, and I find that to be too many. They can't all be that important to the story; or, perhaps there are many stories, running parallel. I just don't find it entertaining. Next, I can't pronounce the names (except for King Robert). All the i's were replaced with y's, some a's and e's were replaced with ae's and I've never been sure how to say that. I think he's misusing some archaic words (sept, for example), but who would know, right? Then the Queen's lover (maybe her brother) tries to murder a 7-year old boy, another character trades his 12 year old sister into slavery (forces her to marry some barbarian) in exchange for an army so he can avenge his father's death.

I don't know where it's headed. There's ample good stuff in it: direwolves, boys becoming knights, girls unhappy with their status, some worthy heroes. All the references to 'black' or 'dark' stuff intended to set a mood, I think, don't add anything. Ned's illegitimate son is referred to by all as the "bastard", and I find that insulting. What's the point? Martin proved in other works that he has a great imagination, a mastery of words--but I don't think he did his best work here. It may be a great story; I just find it hard to read. I'm sure I'm not his target audience, but I read it to keep up with my 13 year old son--he shouldn't be the target audience either.

I'm still reading this, nearly a month later. It's the longest I've ever spent on a single book. I read War and Peace in 5 days. So, what's taking so long for this one? Parts of it are just dreadful--not the writing, of course; Martin is a great writer. It's the story (stories). I'm just old fashioned, I guess. I don't like reading about children killed or abused.

He has this organized in a curious fashion: each chapter is focused on a particular character and that highlights the cruelty--one chapter sweetly, passionately emphasizes a father's (or mother's) love for a child, the next chapter is saturated in blood and gore. I'll keep reading and post again when I'm done.

My curiosity was piqued around page 400--I thought maybe it was about to get interesting, but I was wrong. I won't read another GRRM.





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Published on September 14, 2012 23:17 • 118 views
The RaceThe Race by Clive Cussler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Isaac Bell is a pretty good character, modest, self-effacing, and with near super-hero type abilities. He can fly a plane (bought a plane and taught himself in about 5 minutes), he can shoot, ride, fight and of course romance. He's not the only good guy though, all the Van Dorn detectives are interesting, Isaac's fiancee, Marian is smart, sexy. The newspaper magnate, the cotton baron, the German/Italian aeroplane inventor---all fun characters. The story is good, better than Cussler's NUMA stories (the NUMA characters are good, too, but the stories are predictable).

The 'race' is about a race among the earliest airplanes and "drivers" across the continent and the Van Dorn guys trying to protect the not-so-innocent young female pilot, and .... sorry, that's all I can tell you.

I recommend this to all readers---good, wholesome action/adventure.



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Published on September 14, 2012 23:14 • 111 views

July 4, 2012

The giveaway ended last night at midnight. I have the list of winners and will ship tomorrow (Thursday, 7/5). I hope you enjoy the book.
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Published on July 04, 2012 17:39 • 91 views

June 1, 2012

Friends and Foes?
A Dan Madison and Mike Madison Adventure
In Volume I of the Madison Adventures, Mike Madison, Intrepid Explorer, Mike, his dad, and their growing group of friends tackle a century-old mystery of an infamous train robber, a missing fortune in gold, a voodoo curse, and a high-tech terrorist plot. That would be enough adventure for most families, but new friends and new neighbors bring more intrigue to the Madison clan. Mike’s new classmate, Kathryn Harris, is hiding a heart-breaking secret about her father, FBI agent Thomas Harris—and Mike can’t resist when she asks for help. The new neighbors, Joyce and Jim Mills, have very quirky personalities. Jim seems to be able to read minds and Joyce has this troubling, even frightening habit of “zoning out” as Mike’s mom, Melanie, describes it. Worried that the Mills might be more than just simply annoying, Dan calls on the family’s network of friends—friends with unique, diverse skills. Former covert operative & National Security advisor, Steve Jones, computer geeks, Paul and Liz King, and country lawyer, Del Reese all team up with the Madisons to confront these new mysteries. The danger is real as the group encounters rogue FBI agents, a mad scientist, greedy government officials, professional assassins—and it takes all of the group’s considerable skills to keep everyone safe.

Friends and Foes?

Available NOW via the author's eStore and Amazon.com!
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Published on June 01, 2012 21:11 • 158 views • Tags: assassins, covert-op, geek, terrorist, voodoo

May 12, 2012

Wholesome Family Mysteries: The Dan Madison and Mike Madison Adventure Series. Mike and his Dad tackle a century old mystery of an infamous train robber and a missing fortune in gold, a voodoo curse, greedy corporate executives, & a terrorist plot.

Mike Madison, Intrepid Explorer

Download the Kindle edition now to get to know the Madison clan and watch for Volume II, Friends and Foes?, coming soon!
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Published on May 12, 2012 08:56 • 188 views • Tags: conspiracy, murder, terrorist, voodoo

May 2, 2012

I regret the answer is, "Yes." For the same reasons that so many other small businesses fail, a great many authors (and potential authors) will just give up. Whether you blame it on poor quality product, poor marketing, lousy packaging, bad reviews, or the massive competition--low sales will force many, many out of the market. The common motivators, "If he/she can write a book, so can I," and "Why not? It's cheap," will go away because his/her book didn't sell or he/she was simply humiliated by the negative feedback. Sadly, some of those who give up will be talented, imaginative writers with great potential, and that's distressing.

One more prediction (purely from a personal perspective): the ebook phenomenon will lose momentum. I've tried it and I don't care for it. I read a lot--50 to 60 books a year. I often read in airports, on airplanes, but I mostly read in bed at night. I have my pillows, my reading lamp, my water glass, my reading glasses--and my ebook reader just doesn't feel right. Of course, I'm old, but that's not a factor--in fact, I've embraced technology and have all the latest gadgets, ipod, ipad, ebook reader, fancy laptops, powerful desk-tops, home network, smart phones--I just like books. I'll probably spend more than I have recently, but I have a library card, I shop at used book stores, I swap books with friends, and I rarely pay MSRP for a book in the first place.
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Published on May 02, 2012 14:49 • 134 views • Tags: ebooks, indie, reviews

March 22, 2012

Friends and Foes?
A Dan Madison and Mike Madison Adventure
In Volume I of the Madison Adventures, Mike Madison, Intrepid Explorer, Mike, his dad, and their growing group of friends tackle a century-old mystery of an infamous train robber, a missing fortune in gold, a voodoo curse, and a high-tech terrorist plot. That would be enough adventure for most families, but new friends and new neighbors bring more intrigue to the Madison clan. Mike’s new classmate, Kathryn Harris, is hiding a heart-breaking secret about the death of her father, FBI agent Thomas Harris—and Mike can’t resist when she asks for help. The new neighbors, Joyce and Jim Mills, have very quirky personalities. Jim seems to be able to read minds and Joyce has this troubling, even frightening habit of “zoning out” as Mike’s mom, Melanie, describes it. Worried that the Mills might be more than just simply annoying, Dan calls on the family’s network of friends—friends with unique, diverse skills. Former covert operative & National Security advisor, Steve Jones, computer geeks, Paul and Liz King, and country lawyer, Del Reese all team up with the Madisons to confront these new mysteries. The danger is real as the group encounters rogue FBI agents, a mad scientist, greedy government officials, professional assassins—and it takes all of the group’s considerable skills to keep everyone safe.

AVAILABLE SOON ON AMAZON AND MAJOR ONLINE RETAILERS, in premium paperback and ebook editions.
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Published on March 22, 2012 05:12 • 208 views • Tags: assassin, covert, geek, mad-scientist, voodoo

February 14, 2012

Now through the end of February, get caught up on the Madison adventures for a special low price (Kindle edition). Mike Madison, Intrepid Explorer is Volume I in a family friendly series of adventure stories involving a century old mystery of an infamous train robber, a missing fortune in gold, a voodoo curse, and a high tech terrorist plot. Find out how Mike, his dad, and their circle of friends work through those challenges and get ready for Volume II in the series, Friends and Foes? due out March 1st in Kindle eBook. As Mike grows up, so do the adventures--
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Published on February 14, 2012 06:35 • 120 views • Tags: kindle, terrorist, voodoo

January 16, 2012

Texting is not a tool to improve productivity or efficiency. It is not more convenient than other forms of communication. It is a toy, a dangerous, development-arresting, cowardly game. The problem is more apparent in young people, I expect, but universal--texting (and email for that matter) allows, even encourages people to say things they would never have the courage or strength of character to say 'face to face.' Texting is reminiscent of the notes we used to pass behind the teacher's back in 5th grade, "I like you, do you like me?" At some point you learn that you can't communicate via notes any longer, so you finally muster the courage to stand face to face and ask, "you wanna go to the movies?" And, it's a monumental accomplishment--character building (especially if she says 'no').

Texting does for people what cars do for many. People who would never cut in front of you standing in line at the bank or the supermarket will suddenly be stronger, braver, and more assertive behind the wheel of a car--and cut in front of you into a turn lane on the freeway. But, that new found strength and courage go away when they step back out into the real world. Texting gives a similar false strength to people--and it frightens me to think that they might never step back out into the real world. If they don't have the courage to say something, face to face, they shouldn't be texting it (after 6th grade).

Yeah, I'm old, but that's not why I don't like texting. I watch my young son "making friends" via texting, IM'ing, chat-rooms, electronic social networks, and it's wrong on so many levels. Those people aren't friends, they're no more friends than an imaginary playmate. That's one reason I don't like texting. Another reason, is that I finally got the courage to talk face to face with people (it took a while, but I've been doing it pretty well for nearly 50 years) and it can be exhilarating--especially with girls. Nothing is better than seeing the smile on my sweetheart's face when I tell her how pretty she looks today--I suppose she'd smile if I sent her a text, but I wouldn't get to see it.
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Published on January 16, 2012 11:08 • 360 views

January 10, 2012

My first novel, Mike Madison, about a 10 year-old boy and his dad, has no genre. It has a micro-genre, a tiny little niche within a sub-genre . . . and that defines the potential market, tiny, micro; and, it's been a valuable lesson (for me and others who might be contemplating writing a book). I don't feel it's been a total waste of time--writing has been a most enjoyable, satisfying, cathartic experience. I've developed a real passion for the work, but now I've decided I'd like to sell a few copies. Fortunately for me, I'm old and have lived a very full life--I've been all over, done a lot of things--I don't need a bucket to hold my "bucket list," a coffee mug or even a thimble is plenty big enough. I can draw upon life experiences to speak with some accuracy on a lot of things (and I know how to research), and surprisingly (to me) I have a pretty good imagination. So, I'll continue to write about "what I know," but I'll choose a broader target audience ahead of time--select a topic that is timely, and try again. Established authors don't have to worry with this---guys like Grisham, Patterson have their own genre. Grisham doesn't even bother to update his--he can pick a period, a location and make it work. King and Koontz have a similar advantage. They're great story-tellers and the stories are bigger than the characters. Patterson and Cussler I don't think are as good as those other guys, but they re-use reliable, established characters, stay abreast of the changing world, and the characters make the story.

YA (Young Adult) fiction is hot, but it's tough to stand out--and it's a poorly defined genre: how Young is too young, how Adult is too adult? Fantasy is the hottest genre of the decade, enjoying a resurgence; and, it has a special appeal in the freedom it affords the writer/creater. The main character can have two heads, live in a castle in the sky, and travel through time. My main character looks like me, lives in a brick house in the suburbs, and drives an SUV. I have to somehow make ordinary folks, their experiences, their relationships more interesting--and keep it real. Unless you're truly writing simply for your own entertainment and edification (which no writer really does), take my advice, figure out who you're writing to before you begin.
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Published on January 10, 2012 20:33 • 143 views • Tags: fantasy, grisham, koontz, ya