State of the ARC: March 2021

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.


I have a flock of ARCs coming in in April and May. There are so many intriguing books coming out this spring! So many! I usually try to limit my requests to one or two in a given month, but I just couldn’t resist requesting a bunch of books. And then I was approved for most of them. So I have a lot of reading to do. Which sounds perfectly fine to me

Recently Published:

  • The Councillor by E.J. Beaton
    Fantasy
    Expected publication date: March 2, 2020, from DAW

In this Machiavellian fantasy, scholarly Lysande Prior investigates the murder of her friend, Queen Sarelin Bray, ruler of Elira, even as she is the one who must choose the next ruler from the ruthless city rulers. Though she is of a scholarly bent, Lysande cannot let go of a hidden addiction or her growing taste for power as she engages in ruthless strategy with the city rulers. But far away, the magic-wielding White Queen is raising an army and becoming an ever-growing threat to Elira.


Upcoming Releases:

Until the introduction of the printing press in Europe in the late 1400s, books were some of the most precious and most beautiful artworks of the late medieval era. In addition to holding the knowledge of the ages, they contained intricate illuminated pages and beautiful illustrations. In 1400s Florence, Vespasiano da Bisticci became one of the most prolific booksellers in Europe, whose clients included kings and popes. Called the ‘king of the world’s booksellers’, his literary empire would face its greatest challenge with the introduction of the printing press in 1480. The Bookseller of Florence is an ode to the world of books and bookmaking, as well as a memorial to a literary titan of the early Renaissance.

  • Dance with Death (Barker and Llewellyn #12) by Will Thomas
    Historical Mystery
    Expected publication date: April 13, 2021, by St. Martin’s Press

In the summer of 1893, the young Tsarevich Nicolas has traveled to London to attend a royal wedding. He has brought with him his ballerina mistress and his security forces, for his life has been threatened by an assassin known as La Syphide. Though Nicolas is protected by forces from both Russia and England, an attack on Prince George proves that they need more help. Enter Barker and Llewellyn, who are hired to track down the assassin. Their investigation brings them face to face with old enemies, high society, and motives both political and personal. While facing attempts on their own lives, Barker and Llewellyn must solve this case before the greatest royal families in Europe fall victim to the crime of the century.

Long beloved for their shimmering feathers, hummingbirds have long held a special place in the imaginations of people all over the world. But these tiny birds life on a knife’s edge, fighting for survival in myriad places– some of them being among the harshest ecosystems on the planet. Acclaimed nature writer Jon Dunn travels around the world, from the southern Arctic reaches to Antarctic islands in search of hummingbirds in all their varieties.

Lacking in essentials like air and water, the little planet of Gora is an unremarkable place, though its convenient location makes it a popular stop on the way to somewhere else. When a freak occurance halts all traffic in and out of Gora, three travelers of different species– an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a crossroads, and a mysterious traveler doing her best to help those on the fringes– must face where they’ve been, where they’re going, and what they could come to mean to one another.

Inspector Lu Fei is a graduate of one of China’s elite police academies, but he has been sent to a remote backwater village where nothing ever seems to happen. Until a young woman is found brutally murdered. A rising star in China’s CID is sent to investigate, but as the country grows more authoritarian, stability and prosperity are valued more than solving the murder of one poor woman. It seems that no one cares about justice except Lu Fei. The more he investigates the crime, though, the more enemies he makes and soon he realizes that he could be putting himself and everyone he loves in danger.

  • 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.

A young woman finds love with another woman whose true self emerges just once a week. A young witch seeks freedom through betrayal, innocent bones, and a meticulous spell. A princess flees an arranged marriage and finds a family with a troupe of actors deep in the forest. These stories and more make up The Tangleroot Palace, Liu’s first collection of short, fantastical stories.

Heather Cass White, herself a lifelong reader, advocates for a life spent in books. Not for educational purposes or the ‘value’ ascribed to certain kinds of books, but for the sheer enjoyment, fascination, and the expression of the self that reading brings to a person’s life. It is also a tribute to the reading life, and aims to help people rediscover their love of books.

For millennia, the Scandinavian people of northern Europe lived relatively quietly among the forests and fjords of their sub-arctic climbes. But in the mid-Medieval period, they emerged from their remote homeland and spread out across Europe, from the icy volcanoes of Iceland to the cathedrals of Byzantium– and beyond the known world to North America, hundred of years before Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage. In The Viking Heart, Herman blends historical narratives with the latest archaeological and DNA research to build a fascinating story of a people who have captured our imaginations for centuries.

In 2017, DNA evidence showed that a skeleton from a high status Viking grave in Birka, Sweden, was actually a woman. Archaeologists had long believed the skeleton to have been that of a male, thanks to the weapons buried with the person. The idea that this grave was that of a woman upended the notions we had about Viking society. Was this woman a Viking warrior? In The Real Valkyrie, Brown explores the idea that there were female Vikings alongside the men, which is contrary to our modern notions– which are based upon Victorian histories that often sought to reinforce their own gender roles and assumed superiority, rather than tell a true story of history. Using sagas, stories, and archaeological evidence of the Viking era, Brown seeks to expand upon our views of a woman’s place in Viking society.


As of today, March 23, 2021, I have ten ARCs to read and review over the next five months. That is totally do-able, though several of them are due in the next couple of months, which means there will be several weeks straight that I’ll be writing reviews for them. But they all look so interesting!

I’ve sent reviews for 52 books out of 62 approvals for a feedback ratio of 84%. I have two books still waiting for approval, though I’m fairly sure that I’ll be denied one of them, because I have never had an approval from Tor, in spite of the fact that I read primarily science fiction and fantasy– and always have– and that’s primarily what Tor publishes. I can’t decide if I want to just roll my eyes at this fact or be salty about it. It’s kind of a half-and-half situation.

But oh well. There are plenty of publishers coming out with some fantastic-looking books, and they’re more than willing to share with the likes of me. So I’ll keep reading their books. It’s going to be great.

6 thoughts on “State of the ARC: March 2021

  1. I want to read the Ross King. I want to know what ye think of the hummingbird one and the Pulley book before I add them to the list. I have the Becky Chambers book. I am waiting to read that until I find the perfect day and mood cause I know I am going to love it.
    x The Captain

  2. The book that most jumps out at me is The Glitter in the Green. Hummingbirds are so much fun to watch, though I don’t see them all that often and there’s so much I don’t know about them. But I’m also really curious about The Viking Heart and The Real Valkyrie, both sound fascinating. And being about books, Books Promiscuously Read has a certain pull.

  3. Glitter in the Green sounds great. I know very little about hummingbirds, so I’m looking forward to learning more. Viking Heart looks fantastic, but I’m a little dubious about The Real Valkyrie, as I’m not sure the author has a handle on the reality of her sources. But she could surprise me, so we’ll find out. I love books about books, too, so Books Promiscuously Read is definitely appealing.

  4. So far, Bookseller of Florence reads fairly academically, so it’s slow going so far. I’m sure it’ll get less dry as I get into the meat of the book. Lots of background information so far.

    I can’t wait to get to the Chambers book…

  5. The Tangleroot Palace sounds interesting to me. Plus, so far I’ve only tried Liu’s Monstress. I wouldn’t mind trying her work in a different format.

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