(Really early) ARC review: Liberty Farm by Izai Amorim

I had the opportunity to read an earlier version of this family saga last year, and I enjoyed it so much that I requested and read a copy from NetGalley this month.

From the Goodreads description:

Set in the semi-arid backlands of northeastern Brazil and spanning one century and three generations, this family saga is a complex psychological portrait of family life, intertwined with Brazil’s history from the birth of the republic to the end of the military dictatorship in 1989.

I didn’t know a lot about this time period in Brazilian history, but the author does a great job laying out the national political situation alongside the family’s story. The family itself is populated by colorful and interesting characters: patriarch Ezra made me crazy, but I couldn’t help but like him. I adored Helena and Lara—both are strong female characters doing what they must in their own times—and loved Ezra Neto. Esra Duarte is a perfect villain… when a character can actually make me angry, the author has their job.

This book is well written, informative and entertaining, with a touch of magical realism courtesy of some enlightening dream sequences. Beautiful photographs throughout the book, along with helpful maps, glossaries, and character lists, make this an enjoyable and informative read. Highly recommend for anyone who enjoys Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Isabel Allende, or historical family sagas. The book will be available in September!

Thanks very much to Izai Amorim and to NetGalley for my early copies in exchange for an honest review.


Review: Lakewood by Megan Giddings

Oh my… This is a creepy, dark, and thought-provoking debut that has kept me up at night.

The novel begins as Lena has lost her beloved grandmother to cancer, leaving Lena to worry about caring for her mysteriously ill mother and manage a whole lot of debt. Lena decides to leave college and take a position in a shady research project in a remote town called Lakewood. The study pays her well and provides the medical insurance that Lena’s mom so badly needs, but Lena quickly realizes she had no idea what she was getting in to.

The medical and psychological experiments are terrifying, at times making me physically uncomfortable while reading. Beyond that, the story recalls actual government experiments done on Black people throughout the sorted history of our country’s treatment of race and class divides. Not an easy read, but definitely worth it.

The writing is very good, and extremely descriptive. Lena and her mom are sympathetic characters. I was so worried for them and felt stifled and trapped as Lena’s situation deteriorated as the story cruised along. I am very impressed that a debut evoked such strong emotions for me.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys psychological suspense that makes you think.