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.
My virtual stack of ARCs is switfly growing smaller, and I am glad for that. It’s fun to get advanced copies of books you’re looking forward to, but at the same time they weigh on the mind, as there is an expectation that you will read and review them in time for publication, and those pesky publication dates have a way of sneaking up on a person.
Right now, I have two short novels, one long novel, and a collection of short stories to read. That is a very manageable number of books to read between now and the end of November. I haven’t really looked for new ARCs lately. For some reason, I haven’t really seen any that have caught my interest and that’s okay. I have plenty of unread books on my shelves and library holds that I’m looking forward to.
- Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published: 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.
- The Real Valkyrie: The Real History of Viking Warrior Women by Nancy Marie Brown
Expected publication date: August 31, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press
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.
- Traitors of the Black Crown (Black Crown #1) by Cate Pearce
Expected publication date: September 22, 2021 by Hansen House
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.
- Observations by Gaslight: Stories from the World of Sherlock Holmes
by Lyndsay Faye
Expected Publication Date: December 7, 2021 by Mysterious Press
The original Sherlock Holmes stories, as penned by his friend Dr. John Watson, contain more characters than just Holmes and Watson. From LeStrade to Mrs. Hudson to minor side characters like Lomax, Lyndsay Faye compiles a series of letters, diary entries, telegraphs, and even a grocery list to flesh out these oft-overlooked characters and provide insights into the lives and the celebrated friendship of Holmes and Watson.
As of this writing, I have received seventy-one approvals and submitted reviews for sixty-five books for a feedback ratio of 92%. I will be submitting another review next week (for Ann Cleeves’s The Heron’s Cry), so that ratio will go up a bit. I’m awaiting an answer for four other titles, but as I’ve been waiting anywhere from 1-6 months for a response about them, I doubt I’ll receive an approval for any of them. And that’s okay. I have plenty to read without them, and if I want to read them later on, I’ll be able to get them from the library.