State of the ARC: August 2020

State of the ARC is a meme hosted by Avalinah’s Books in which we round up our ARCs and attempt to wrangle them into something approaching order. Sometimes it’s like herding cats.

September is going to be a big month for ARCs. I have five titles left to read on my NetGalley shelf, and all of them are due within a month of each other, and I’m looking forward to all of them. It helps that they’re new works by authors whose books I’ve already read (save for one, which just looks like it could be a fun and/or exciting story). Once October rolls around, though, I won’t have any ARCs left, unless the publisher approve the books I’ve requested in the past couple of months. It’s been a little annoying, as the last book I requested– The Once and Future Witches — was approved within twenty-four hours of my requested. The others have been waiting for a month or more.

Except one, which I requested on January 1. It was published at the beginning of July, and has since been archived. Is there way to remove books from your ‘requested’ shelf?

Recently Published:

  • Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1) by Janella Angeles
    YA Fantasy
    Expected publication August 25, 2020, by Wednesday books

In a city of ice and ruin, daring magicians face off in a competition to find the next leader of the Conquering Circus. But they soon find themselves under threat from an unknown enemy. As the acts becoming more daring and more magicians disappear, three of the magicians must reckon with their pasts before they disappear forever, too.

My response to this was so-so. There are some interesting ideas, but the execution was lacking, in part because Angeles is a young author. I hope she keeps writing, because a lot of the problems I saw in Where Dreams Descend were born of inexperience.

Upcoming Releases:

Among the Khana people in the city of Iyar, women venture out in caravans for trading, while men remain behind in the city’s center to work as scholars. One man struggles to settle into the masculine world after spending years in the women’s world as a trader, mother, and grandmother. As his past catches up to him, he must choose between his new life and Uiziya, an assassin on her own quest to find her aunt, discover the final secret of her order, and challenge the evil ruler of Iyar.

This was a beautifully written book (though the writing sometimes obscured the themes, but only sometimes) set in a world that Lemberg has been developing through poetry and short stories. This is the first novella in the ‘Birdverse’.

  • The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi
    Expected publication date September 22, 2020, by Wednesday Books

Severin and his friends have succeeded in thwarting the Fallen House, but the cost was higher than they could have imagined. Now they must pick up the pieces and push forward, for Severin has an agenda he is obsessed with and has set his sights on an artifact that grants its user god-like powers. The search takes them all to wintry Russia, where secrets come to light and force them to face themselves and discover new depths to themselves.

In 1914, the world is gripped by the Great War. There’s a story from the Western Front that St. George and a band of angels have descended from Heaven to fight with the British troops. But how can this possibly be true? Writer H.G. Wells is dispatched to find out the truth of the matter and finds himself in the midst of an eerie wasteland inhabited by the living, the dead, and those somewhere between. The unhappy souls trail Wells home to London, where he discovers a plot that could turn the tide of the war. Along with the love of his life, journalist and suffragette Rebecca West, Wells must do battle against diabolical forces to save his sanity– and the world.

  • Machine (White Space #2) by Elizabeth Bear
    Science Fiction
    Expected publication date October 6, 2020 by Saga Press

Doctor Jens hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years, but she’s fine with that and with her job of jumping out of perfectly good space ships in order to develop new treatments for the alien species she encounters. But when she encounters two ships– one ancient, one new– locked together, with their crews suffering from some strange ailment, Dr. Jens can’t help but start digging into the mystery. She has no idea what sorts of horrifying truths she’ll find.

  • Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse
    Expected publication date October 13, 2020 by Saga Press

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time of celebration. But a rare solar eclipse is predicted to happen, and the Sun Priest predicts that it heralds a time of unbalance in the world. Meanwhile, Xiala, a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters is captaining a ship bound for Tova. Her only passenger is a young blind man who seems harmless, but Xiala knows her stories. Those who seem harmless often turn out to be villains, and her ship is due to arrive in Tova on the Winter Solstice.

In 1893, there are no witches. But when the Eastwood sisters joing the suffragist movement, they end up exploring strange words and ways that could change the women’s movement into something else entirely. Stalked by sickness and threatening strangers, the sisters must call upon ancient powers and stay united if they hope to survive.

As of now, I’ve submitted reviews for 42 of the 47 books I’ve been approved for, for a feedback ratio of 89%. Unless my current requests are approved between now and the end of September, I’ll have completed all of my ARCs and will have a ratio of 100%. I’m not sure if I’ll request any ARCs between now and the holidays (so I say now…), but if I do it probably won’t be as many as I did this year. There were several ARCs that I did not enjoy and would not have finished if I hadn’t felt obliged to review them. It’s not fun to read a 400+ page book when you realize fifty pages into it that you don’t like it and are only finishing out of a ridiculous sense of obligation.

But if one of my favorite authors suddenly has a book listed, you can bet I will request it.

9 thoughts on “State of the ARC: August 2020

  1. The Four Profound Weaves was fantastic, but you’re right about the narrative sometimes overwhelming the themes. Black Sun & Once and Future Witches are both in my to-be-reviewed pile.

  2. The White Space series looks interesting and I don’t believe I’ve tried anything yet by Elizabeth Bear. And I loved The Ten Thousand Doors of January so I’m hopeful The Once and Future Witches is similarly enjoyable.

  3. I’ve been wondering about removing books from my requested section too. I wish they would add that feature. I have ARCs for Black Sun and The Once and Future Witches and I can’t wait!

  4. I admire your attempt at resilience to avoid requesting more ARCs. It was quite a problem for me in the past… But I’ve since let things go. Why don’t you use the DNF functionality available in NetGalley? Any particular reason?

  5. Ah, I get that. I didn’t realize that didn’t count towards your feedback ratio then. That is a shame. I can still write a review on a DNF (as City of Girls will soon demonstrate. Mwahaha) and I think it is still valuable! Silly.

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