Upon Review: Mama Lacee by Kenneth Brooks

May 21st, 2013

I love to curl up with a nice, steaming cup of tea and a free book to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites: Book CrashBook Rooster and The Bookplex just so I can indulge in my favorite leisure activity. What’s even better is when an author contacts me for a review. If you’re an author looking for someone to review your book or short story, check out my Request a Review page.

Because I like to share the great reads I’ve found (and warn readers of the not-so-great finds), I developed a system:

  • One cup — worse than a cup of luke warm black pekoe
  • Two cups — it may be hot, but you’ll need plenty of sweetener just to tolerate it
  • Three cups — it’s not my favorite, but it beats going without
  • Four cups — nice and hot and only needs a smidge of sweetener to be perfect
  • Five cups — loose leaf vanilla Earl Grey, yummy

Sometimes a book or story doesn’t warrant a five cup rating, but it’s so good it can’t be missed. For those I include the “Must Read” starburst in front of the cup rating. You’ll find my cup rating above the picture of the cover. Enjoy!

 

Mama Lacee by Kenneth Brooks

Four Cup Must Read

 

 

Usually it’s the description that makes me want to write a review. However, this one leave a lot to be desired:

“IT”S THE TWENTIES. MAMA LACEE IS IN HER 80’S. SHE’S BEEN THE LOCAL HEALER LONGER THAN MOST PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ALIVE. SHE’S SEEN IT ALL…GOOD AND BAD”

It’s my general rule that I won’t accept a book for review without checking the Look Inside feature on Amazon first. I’m glad I did.

The Good…

Don’t be fooled by the less than appealing cover. The story is riveting. It’s a wonderful glimpse into a time of rampant racism and blatant abuses of power. Best of all, there’s plenty of spirituality (the author considers it paranormal activity) to intrigue those who enjoy peeking behind the veil of reality.

The Not-so-good…

I don’t know if it was the author’s intent or not, but there is a lot of jumping between point of view and past and present tense. At times it feels like there’s an outside narrator and then the character seems to take over the telling of a scene. It can be rather disconcerting. Also, there are some formatting issues where paragraphs look strange.

The biggest drawback of the entire story is the abrupt ending. I would have liked to have known what happened to the rest of the people in the story once the “bad guy” is defeated. Did they learn from what happened and become better people? And what about the business men? What did they do? What happened to those who enforce the laws? If Brooks ever decides to release an updated version of Mama Lacee, I hope he considers giving his reader a good denouement to this marvelous story.

The Overall…

If you can get past technical flaws in the writing and don’t mind an abrupt end, Mama Lacee by Kenneth Brooks is a fantastic read.

The Doubting Thomas Effect

March 30th, 2011

One of my favorite shows is Ghost Hunters. Before I discovered this fave, I used to love watching all types of “reality” shows that dealt with the paranormal. Now, not so much. In fact, most of them make me laugh until I cry.

What happened?

I’m glad you asked. The basis of a TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society aka Ghost Hunters) investigation is to disprove the supposed haunting on any given case. Their reasoning is that, if you can debunk most of the claims, whatever’s left that has no explanation is evidence of a haunting. Notice they don’t say evidence of a ghost, just evidence that something beyond the norm is happening.

While I don’t fully understand what some of their gizmos do and I don’t always hear the “voices” they catch on audio, I do appreciate their way of debunking claims and their reliance on evidence they’ve captured on audio or video. Unfortunately, that has sucked the enjoyment out of all those other paranormal “reality” shows I used to watch. Now I look for ways to debunk the “evidence” those other shows put forward.

So what does TAPS, and ghost hunting in general, have to do with Doubting Thomas from scripture or us today?

There is a fine line between healthy skepticism and rigid unbelief.

Without a little skepticism we can be easily led astray, perhaps even as far as being inducted into a cult. If you have a firm foundation of what is normal, then things that are unusual stand out. With a little testing and some common sense, you can see for yourself if it’s a genuine claim of something spiritual or just a loose nut.

However, if our beliefs hinge on only what we can know through our 5 senses, then we miss many of the subtle messages God sends us every day. In fact, we may even buy into the idea that “God helps those who help themselves.” (Algernon Sydney 1698) Nowhere in the Bible does it say that. If anything, God is the one we can (and need to) count on most.

Praying isn’t what’s difficult. Believing our prayers will be answered is.

And yet that is what we’re asked to do.

God asks us to go beyond being a Doubting Thomas and believe in a life God has planned, a life full of meaning and depth. To do that we must hold onto a healthy skepticism to weigh what’s going on around us, compare it to what God has said in scripture and what we feel is right in our gut.

We must also let go of our rigid unbelief and get past the need to disprove everything because sometimes, as TAPS points out, after we’ve debunked what we can we’re left with evidence… of God.