State of the ARC: June 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’ve made it past the crush of ARCs I had on tap for June! It ended up not being as troublesome as I thought, as I got through most of them quickly, and all but one were enjoyable. Sadly, the one I did not enjoy was one I really did not enjoy: Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian. So far, it has the dubious honor of being ‘worst of the year’.


But onward! There as some great looking books on my NetGalley shelf, just waiting for me to get to them.

Recently Published:

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.

  • The Ice Lion by Kathleen O’Neal Gear
    Science Fiction
    Published June 15, 2021 by DAW Books

A thousand years in the future, a thick slime called Zyme covers the oceans. Three-mile thick glaciers cover continents. Ancient stories say that god-like people known as the Jemen left stories behind telling of how their attempts to halt global warming went terribly wrong. To counter that, they recreated the species that survived Earth’s greatest Ice Ages, among these were a people known as the Denisovans. Sixteen-year-old Lynx and his friend Quiller live in this new world of freezing seasons and monstrous creatures. On a journey to save their lives, Lynx and Quiller find the impossible: a still-living Jemen who tells them that their only chance of survival is to sacrifice themselves to a quantum computer.

  • Beyond (The Founding of Valdemar #1) by Mercedes Lackey
    Published June 15, 2021, by DAW Books

Lackey has hinted at Valdemar’s beginnings in many previous books, but at long last, she is telling the story of Baron Valdemar and how he and his people fled the Eastern Empire to find freedom in the wilderness– and how the mystical Companions arrived to aide them.

Upcoming Releases:

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.

  • Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian
    YA Fantasy
    Expected publication date: July 6, 2021 by Berkley Publishing Group

Everyone knows the legend of King Arthur– how a boy grew up to pull a sword from a stone and become king. How the beautiful Queen Guinevere would betray Arthur with his best friend, the knight Lancelot. How the sorceress Morgana would turn on them all. But only Elaine, a young woman gifted with the ability to see the future, saw it before it all happened. As children, these friends freely roam the mystical island of Avalon, but as they grow up destiny comes to claim them in the stifling, politicized court of Camelot, where they discover that their greatest threat might come from within.

For millennia, the Scandinavian people of northern Europe lived relatively quietly among the forests and fjords of their sub-arctic climes. 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, hundreds 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.

  • Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
    Expected publication date: August 17, 2021, by Del Rey

Mexico City, the 1970s. Maite is a secretary who escapes the troubles of life in the pages of romances while her neighbor Leonora lives a life of intrigue and romance. One day Leonora disappears, and Maite finds herself unexpectedly looking into the mystery. Meanwhile, a young criminal named Elvis, who would rather go into the movies and rock ‘n roll than follow his shadowy gangster boss’s orders, is also out looking for Leonora. During their separate investigations, Elvis observes Maite from afar and starts to fall for her. As their search brings them together, they plunge deeper into the dangerous world of spies and violence that Leonora was involved in.

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.

  • The Heron’s Cry (Two Rivers #2) by Ann Cleeves
    Expected publication date: September 7, 2021, by Minotaur Books

Thanks to a hot summer, North Devon is experiencing a boom in tourism. But this boom proves to be a bane for Detective Matthew Venn, who is called out to a rural artists’ collective to investigate the elaborately staged murder of Dr. Nigel Yeo, who was stabbed to death with shards from a vase made by his daughter. Yeo was a kind man, well-regarded by the public and beloved of his daughter, so Venn finds him an unlikely murder victim. He’s even more unsettled with he discovers that Yeo’s daughter has close ties to his own husband, Jonathan. When another body is found- killed in a similar fashion- Venn encounters a nest of lies in his community and a case that cuts too close to home for comfort.

Raena Schinen narrowly escaped being murdered by the Queen’s Guard when after they killed her entire family. She has spent the past fifteen years disguised as a male knight, biding her time until she has a chance to kill the Queen. Just when the time is right to enact her plan, however, Raena is sent to a foreign land to serve the common-born Duchess Aven Colby, whose connection to the queen threatens to reveal Raena’s secret. As their relationship blossoms, though, they must set out on a journey to stop a looming invasion. To do so, they must form precarious alliances and risk the Queen’s wrath even as a mysterious foe rises to threaten everything they hold dear.

  • My Letters To Conceição by Jorge Malina del Callejo
    Expected publication date: October 5, 2021 by Incorgnito Publishing Press

While on a business trip to Cambodia, an elderly woman gives a man a bundle of unsent letters addressed to someone in Mexico City. The return addresses are from all over the world. When the businessman begins reading the letters, he discovers a strange tale of thirty-something Vasco, who is telling his life story to his lost love Conceição. As Vasco’s letters continue and detail his many travels, the narrative slowly shifts to describe haunting visions of the future, as well as dreams of young woman named Sok Meta. Vasco’s obsession with finding Sok Meta grows and grows until Vasco must take a great leap of faith to find the woman he believes is his one true love.

As of today, I have reviewed 62 of the 69 books I’ve been approved for, giving me a feedback ratio of 90%. I have seven books awaiting review (though I’ll be reviewing one of those tomorrow). I’m waiting to hear back about three books. I haven’t been scaling back my requests so much as I haven’t been terribly interested in the SFF books that are available for request (though DAW tends to send me monthly lists that usually have one or two intriguing titles), though there have been some intriguing historical fiction selections. That said, I’ve mostly just added them to my TBR, as they’re long and due out during a busy time of year for me. I’ll probably just get them from the library after they come out and when I have time to sit down and enjoy them.

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