State of the ARC: October 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.


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I’ve made it through the mess of books I had due in September and October, and from here on out I only have a few titles on my To Read list, and the due dates for a couple of them are in Spring 2021, so I have plenty of time to get to them. Less stress when it comes to book feedback is a good thing.

I’ve also been more cautious about my requests, especially when it comes to page length. I’m stubborn about finishing ARCs, and it’s endlessly frustrating when I’m 100 pages into a 500+ pages book that I already hate. So when I see an interesting fantasy novel by an author whose work I’ve never read before, I will look to see how long it is before I request it. If it’s more than 400 pages, I’m just going to put it on my TBR and wait to see reviews after it’s published.

Three of my least favorite books so far in 2020 have been ARCs. That was 1,400 pages I did not enjoy reading, but felt compelled to finish. Not a good time. But! Recently, I’ve had a much better time with the ARCs I’ve read.

Recently Published:

  • Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse
    Fantasy
    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 join 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.

  • Machine (White Space #2) by Elizabeth Bear
    Science Fiction
    Publication date October 20, 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.

Upcoming Releases:

Though its importance is often overlooked by historians, fabric has been one of the most important commodities in human history. Economies were based upon it, extensive travel routes came about because of it, and it still fascinates us today. In her new book, Postrel delves into the history of fabric and shows just how integral it has been to human civilization.

Forty-something, childless, and restless, Mia Kankimäki leaves her job, sells her apartment, and heads out into the world to follow the paths of the female artists and explorers who she has long admired. From Tanzania to Italy to Japan, she investigates the lives of her heroes to see just how they made it in a man’s world, and wonders why, if they could do it, why can’t she?

In this second book in her Medieval Queens series, historian Alison Weir details the lives of five extraordinary queens who ruled their countries in uncertain times of war and treachery. One became a legend in her own right, but all of them changed history in one way or another.

  • The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley
    Fantasy
    Expected publication date: May 25, 2021 by Bloomsbury Publishing

In an alternate history where England is a French colony, a man named Joe Tournier is suffering from amnesia. The only thing he knows about his identity comes from a century-old Scottish postcard, written in the forbidden language of English, signed only as “M”. Joe goes in search of M in order to discover more than one identity, and in so doing, will change the course of history forever.


As of this writing, I have received 51 approvals and sent feedback for 47 books for a feedback ratio of 92%. I’m currently waiting on approvals for four titles, though I will likely be declined for two of them (one of which was recently published, the other comes out in a couple of weeks. I’ve been waiting for a response for both of them for months). I’m fairly sure I will be approved for one of the remaining two, as it’s a title from St. Martin’s Press (and from an author whose books I’ve given glowing reviews for already). I’m not sure about the other, but I’m not too concerned about it one way or the other.

I’m considering getting a “Read Now” title from one genre or another solely for the purpose of getting my “50 Reviews” badge before the end of the year. I’ll have review #49 up in the next couple of weeks, and nothing else due until February, so if I find something that’s due out toward the end of December, it won’t be a big deal to achieve this rather arbitrary goal.

6 thoughts on “State of the ARC: October 2020

  1. Arbitrary goals sometimes have their uses. I hear you about the long book issues. The only ARCs I receive are typically from giveaways but I tend to feel similarly towards them, that certain sense of obligation to finish them and provide some kind of review. And getting stuck in one that just doesn’t work for you is frustrating. I go back and forth with entering the giveaways. Sometimes, especially after getting stuck in a boring book, I’ll cut way back on entering new ones. But inevitably I eventually end up entering all sorts of them again. 🙂 It’s a great way of being exposed to new works I’d not likely have tried otherwise.

  2. I’m like that with giveaways, too. I’ll get burned by a bad ARC and avoid requesting them or entering giveaways. And then the annoyance wears off and I enter a bunch of giveaways again. I have found some pretty great books thanks to giveaways– I discovered Silvia Moreno-Garcia thanks to one, and I got lovely little advance copy of Oliver Sacks’s final book. So a net positive on the whole.

  3. I can respect and I admire your caution when requesting ARCs. I burned out on NetGalley years ago, as you might recall. It just isn’t for me. Though I love the idea of getting books early, sharing my feedback, being part of those “in the know” and all that — it just added more stress than it was worth.

    If you really want your 50 Reviews badge before EOY, would you consider reading graphic novels? I find them so much fun!

  4. I almost burned myself out on ARCs thanks to those three long fantasy novels I ended up hating. Since then, I’ve been requesting either books by authors I know I like, or nonfiction books that sound like they’ll be super intersting (or both, in one cast).

    I’ll actually hit my 50th review in the next couple of weeks. I’ll write a review for The Women I Think About at Night when I have an attention span again (probably over the weekend), and then I’ll have a review up for Seb Falk’s The Light Ages in a couple of weeks. And that will be 50!

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