State of the ARC: July, 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 read exactly zero ARCs so far in July, and that trend isn’t likely to change in the last few days of the month. Fortunately, the next ARC on my schedule is by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Velvet was the Night, and I have never not enjoyed one of her books. Suffice it to say that I am looking forward to this one more than any other ARC I’ve gotten this year.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Upcoming Releases:

  • 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.

  • The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa, translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai
    Expected publication date: December 7, 2021 by HarperVia

Bookish Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookshop he inherited from his grandfather until a strange cat appears and demands that Rintaro help him (the cat) rescue books from around the world. The cat works to save unloved and unread books from people who don’t appreciate the value of literature. Rintaro and the cat head out into the world, embarking on a strange journey that culminates in a challenge that Rintaro will have to summon all his courage to complete.

I was going to list Arthur Herman’s The Viking Heart as “will not review”, but I decided not to take that final step. I’ll just leave it on my unread shelf, in case I change my mind in the future. If I haven’t read it by the end of the year, I’ll let it go.

Otherwise, I’ve only gotten one approval in the past couple of months, as I haven’t really been requesting anything. The Cat Who Saved Books is the only book I’ve been approved for. I have four others I’m waiting for word for, though I’m pretty the publishers will decline at least two of them. Which is fine. I’ll probably be able to get those at the library, or else I can buy them after they’re released.

As of today, I’ve been approved for 70 ARCs and I’ve sent feedback for 63 of them, giving me a feedback ratio of 90%. I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon, as most of the rest of the year’s upcoming books have been announced, and those ARCs are already up on NetGalley (I assume they are, anyway). I look at the lists now and then, and I’m not overly excited about very many of them, so I doubt I’ll be requesting much until the 2022 books start showing up in earnest.

7 thoughts on “State of the ARC: July, 2021

  1. Three of these stand out to me. The description of Velvet was the Night has me concerned it might not be for me, and yet I very much want to try something by the author. My Letters to Conceição just sounds fascinating and has me very curious. And I can rarely pass up anything Japanese so I’m also curious about The Cat Who Saved Books.

  2. Moreno-Garcia has so many different and fantastic books! You could really start with any of them. Mexican Gothic is my favorite so far, but Gods of Jade and Shadow and The Beautiful Ones are great, too. I haven’t read Certain Dark Things, which is about vampires in Mexico City. I think she has one or two others that I haven’t read yet. I’m really looking forward to Velvet was the Night, even if it’s not a genre I usually reach for.

    I’m really interested in The Cat Who Saved Books. Japanese books about unusual cats is a subgenre I really go for.

  3. I’m really looking forward to Velvet Was the Night as well. Unfortunately, I requested way too many ARCs this year and now my reading for the next several months is going to have to be dominated by keeping up with them all. 😦 I keep saying I’ll stop requesting… maybe 2022?

  4. I just started Velvet was the Night yesterday. So far, so good. The characters have such distinct voices, and it makes them easy to tell apart. I’m not completely sold on Maite, but I’m not far into it. Elvis is intriguing. I’m looking forward to the rest of the book.

    I feel like I’m in a pretty good place with my ARC requests. I’ve pretty much stopped requesting YA books, since I’ve had such bad experiences with a bunch of the ones I’ve requested. And if a book is longer than 500 pages, I’ll probably just add it to my TBR and wait for the library to get it.

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