May 2021 Wrap-Up and June TBR

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Featured Image for the May 2021  Reading Wrap-Up.  Text contains the title of the post above miniature book covers for House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas; Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro; The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller; Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa; and The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Hello, friends! Another month has come and gone, so I have another (late) wrap-up for you! Today, I’m sharing what I read in May 2021. It was a great reading month for me; I just haven’t had much time to write due to some ch-ch-ch-changes! I’ll be sharing more about those next month, so stay tuned!


What I Read in May 2021

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Book Cover for Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

4.0 out of 5 stars

Read on Hardcover, 454 pages

Fantasy | LGBTQ+ Characters | BIPOC Author

Read for Prompt #43 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Support a local bookstore by purchasing Black Sun on Bookshop.org.

The first book I read in May 2021 was Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun. This is an epic fantasy rooted in Indigenous American culture and geography. There are a few big action sequences, but it is primarily a character-driven fantasy story, which is right up my alley! I did notice some writing quirks and one plot issue I can’t discuss due to spoilers. But, suffice to say, this was awesome, and I’ll recommend it the same way I recommended Black Leopard, Red Wolf:

If you like epic, high fantasy adventures but have always felt the genre could use a little more melanin, Black Sun might be for you!


The Iliad by Homer, translated by Robert Fitzgerald

Book Cover for The Iliad by Homer, Translated by Robert Fitzgerald

4.0 out of 5 stars

Read on Paperback, 588 pages

Classics | Poetry | Mythology

Read for Prompt #35 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Support a local bookstore by purchasing The Iliad on Bookshop.org.

The next book I read in May 2021 was The Iliad, part one of my Homer double-feature for the month. I did not read this book or The Odyssey in school, so I was excited to study them on my own. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I still appreciated its themes. And, of course, the characterizations of the gods as petty children fighting with one another about which dumb human to save was just great. The Fitzgerald translation was perfect, and I definitely recommend it if you are a Homeric novice. Authors Note: I, too, am a Homeric novice.

If you’re into Greek Mythology and/or classic poetry, and are tired of your gods being portrayed as wise, thoughtful beings, then The Iliad might be for you!


Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Book Cover for Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

5 out of 5 stars

Read on Paperback, 480 pages

Fantasy | LGBTQ+ Characters | BIPOC Author

Read for Prompt #01 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Support a local bookstore by purchasing Son of the Storm on Bookshop.org.

Next, I read Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s just-released Son of the Storm. I was so excited for this book, and it definitely did not disappoint! This is another high fantasy epic, but this one is based on West African cultures and geography. I would say Son of the Storm is a bit more plot-driven than Black Sun, but the characters are vibrant and well-developed, and I absolutely loved the writing style. This is the first installment in a planned trilogy, and you bet your butt I’m pre-ordering the next one as soon as the link is live!

If you like fast-paced, epic fantasy, and want an engaging story with equally engaging characters, then Son of the Storm is definitely for you!


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book Cover for Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

2.5 out of 5 stars

Read on Kindle, 288 pages

Literary Fiction | BIPOC Author

Read for Prompt #17 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Support a local bookstore by purchasing Never Let Me Go on Bookshop.org.

Next, I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s science fiction? dystopia? experimental fiction? Look, I don’t know how to categorize this book, and to get into the details would involve spoiling some “twists” in this story. The twists weren’t particularly shocking to me, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else. Anyway, this book was the definition of disappointing for me. The writing style didn’t click, the characters were annoying, and the pacing was super inconsistent. I can definitely tell that Ishiguro is a talented writer, and I’m not against giving him another chance. However, this book was just serving me meh on all cylinders. I might write a more in-depth review on this one, so stay tuned for that.

If you like literary, stream-of-consciousness prose, and don’t mind a disorganized, introspective narrative, then Never Let Me Go might be for you!


The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Book Cover for The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

4.0 out of 5 stars

Read on Hardcover, 320 pages

Horror | BIPOC Author

Read for Prompt #16 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Support a local bookstore by purchasing The Only Good Indians on Bookshop.org.

Next, I read The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. I was tentatively hyped for this, as I’m a baby and don’t read much horror, but I really enjoyed this one! I’ve read some reviews saying this is less horror and more “experimental literary fiction.” Personally, I think that all depends on what you want out of your horror reads. This was atmospheric and spooky enough for me. It was well-written (which I guess is where the “criticisms” of this book being literary come from). It also included beautiful themes on Native culture, tradition, and familial relationships. Content Warning, though, for some really gory shit. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

If you like well-written, atmospheric horror with characters who feel like real people with real lives, then The Only Good Indians might be for you!


The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fitzgerald

Book Cover for The Odyssey by Homer, Translated by Robert Fitzgerald

3.5 out of 5 stars

Read on Paperback, 515 pages

Classics | Poetry | Mythology

Read for Prompt #45 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Support a local bookstore by purchasing The Odyssey on Bookshop.org.

And last but not least, we come to the final book I read in May 2021 and the second in my Homer double-feature: The Odyssey. I didn’t like this quite as much as The Iliad, mainly because all the good stuff was in the first half of the story. Cyclopes get stabbed in the eye; Circe turns Odysseus’s men into pigs (and then back into humans); Odysseus is emo! All great stuff, except all of it happens before the 50% mark. After which, the whole third act is mostly uneventful until the very end. The translation is still beautiful, though, and the ending between Penelope and Odysseus might have made me feel something in my cold, dead heart. It’s just a bummer the middle is so… bland.

If you’re into Greek Mythology and want to read about a middle-aged dude playing mind games with a Cyclops, then The Odyssey might be for you!


What I’m Currently Reading

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Cover for The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy

Reading for Prompt #39 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

You read that right; I’m back on my Middle Earth nonsense! I usually don’t watch film adaptations before reading the books they’re based on, but I’ve now done it with both Fellowship and The Hobbit. Both experiences have been great, and I might start doing this more often! I’m getting so much out of the reading experience since I can pay attention to the fine details instead of keeping up with the more significant plot developments. Plus, I just love Middle Earth, so it’s fun to spend more time here.

Support a local bookstore by purchasing Fellowship of the Ring on Bookshop.org.


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Book Cover for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Mythology | LGBTQ+ Characters | Woman Author

Reading for Prompt #08 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

The angry grandpa hipster in me requires that I make it clear that TikTok did not, in fact, make me buy it. I selected this book for my 2021 Reading Challenge way back in December 2021, and I don’t even have the attention span for an app like TikTok. So there! Anyway, so far, it’s just fine. However, I suspect it may not live up to the hype for me; It’s been very underwhelming so far. But hey, the Trojan Wars just started, so hopefully, it will get more interesting very soon!

Support a local bookstore by purchasing The Song of Achilles on Bookshop.org.


My June 2021 TBR

Classic Lit

  • Blindness by José Saramago (finished)

Everything Else

  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (finished)
  • House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (finished)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (continuing)
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (continuing)
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Wrapping up the May 2021 Wrap-Up

And there you have it! This is everything I have read recently, am currently reading, or will be reading soon. Almost everything I plan to read this year is for the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. You can check out the complete list of my selections here! You can also keep up with my ratings and reviews on Goodreads here!

So, how was your reading month in May 2021? What are you most excited to pick up in June? Let me know in the comments below!

As always, thanks for reading!

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