/r/Fantasy 2018 Bingo Challenge – Final Card

This is my second year attempting the /r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge and my first year successfully competing it! I suffered the same problem as I did last year of going on a massive reading slump Spring Semester and forgetting that books in fact exist and I should probably be reading them, but unlike last year, there were enough books (and Chinese web novels) in my backlog that I could start just filling in boxes. Compared to my card during my Mid-Year Check-In, there were thankfully very few slots missing and some swapping and shuffling here and there managed to complete the squares.

You’ll notice that there are several slots that have changed between that video and now, thanks to my re-discovery of Hard Mode as I went to turn in my card. Hard Mode was a new featured added just this year to further challenge readers to find unique books to read, which I’d promptly ignored upon seeing it. However, I realized halfway through turning my card in that I’d somehow managed to mostly complete the Hard Mode challenges anyways. Being the box-checking-lover I am, I went back through my read list and changed a couple books around to bump that number just a little higher.

Some Stats

  • Female Authors – 14/25 – 64% | Male Authors – 9/25 – 36% | Gender Unknown – 2/25 – 8%
  • Hard Mode – 17/25 – 68%
  • Average Word Count – 111025.5
  • Average Page Count – 389.5
  • Books Published in 2018/2019 – 12/25 – 48%

The Card

bingo 2018-2019

First Row

  • Reviewed on /r/Fantasy – The Poppy War by RF Kuang
    • Hard Mode: Write a review for this book – complete
    • Thoughts: (5/5) I won’t write a lot because I’ve made both a written review and a video review, but I will say this is one of my favorite debuts of 2018! Bloody and brutal, Rin’s character development through this book is fascinating to read.
  • Non-Western Setting – Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
    • Hard Mode: Novel not originally published in English – failed
      • sadly no, this was almost going to be a Chinese webnovel for hard mode points but I liked this book too much
    • Thoughts: (5/5) This book reads like a historical anime. Seriously. And I love it, so goddamn much.

Second Row

  • Entirely Within One City – Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
    • Hard Mode: City exists in secondary world fantasy – complete
    • Thoughts: (4/5) My second favorite YA novels I read during the bingo period and the one of the few where the main characters didn’t piss me off. Enne is a very rational, calm-headed young woman, which she needs to survive the City of Sin (fantasy Las Vegas). I loved that she continues to think of herself as a lady, that when everything is over, she’ll return to society to make her debut.
  • Self-Published – The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion by Lynn E O’Connacht
    • Hard Mode: less than 50 GR ratings – complete
      • currently at 29 ratings
    • Thoughts: (4/5) Super cute! My first prose novel (which I didn’t realize would be a prose novel when I requested the ARC) and I thoroughly enjoyed the style. I live for asexual representation and this book had it in spades. I loved Marian and I found Edel a little annoying/spoiled, but together they make an excellent couple.
  • Published Before You Were Born – The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursuka K Le Guin
    • Hard Mode: published exactly 10 years before you were born – failed
    • Thoughts(3/5) While this book may have been progressive and before its time in the 1960s, I only found it outdated in 2019. The ‘progressive’ elements are now tropes or ideas that have faded and the big selling point (a race of people with no gender) doesn’t seem that odd in the landscape of today’s worlds. I also really didn’t find either main character all that compelling, nor was the plot all that engaging.
  • /r/Fantasy Goodreads Book of the Month – All Systems Red by Martha Wells
    • Hard Mode: Read the current Goodreads Book of the Month and participate in the discussion – failed
      • I’m sadly not that social
    • Thoughts: (4/5) I read this while recovering from my first edible so I can’t say I had the most optimal reading experience. I love the idea of a murderbot who would prefer to watch TV and sit around and not be social than actually kill things, but I found the execution a little off? Perhaps I just didn’t find the plot all that interesting or I was hoping for a more slice of life approach, but something just didn’t sit right.
  • Novel Featuring a Library – In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard
    • Hard Mode: library is an integral part of the plot, not just set dressing – complete
      • I think this is correct but I could be wrong
    • Thoughts: (5/5) Definitely one of my favorites of 2018. Wow this book is amazing. Sapphic Beauty and the Beast retelling, creepy post-apocalyptic Vietnamese-inspired setting, compelling 3D characters (some of whom are dragons), non-binary characters… Throw in some enemies to lovers and it’d be everything I could ask for. Seriously, this book is amazing and the relationship between Yên and Vu Côn is just delightful to read.

Third Row

  • Historical Fantasy/Alt History – Isle of Gold by Seven Jane
    • Hard Mode: NOT set in the UK OR Alternate History that is NOT set in the USA – complete
      • set in the Caribbean, in the golden age of piracy
    • Thoughts: (4/5) While the pacing was on the slow side, the prose in this book was just absolutely gorgeous. A lot of this book is Merrins’ day to day life on a pirate ship and the struggles that she (disguised as a he) faces in trying to blend in with the rest of the pirate ship crew. I know nothing about sailing, but just through the descriptions mentioned in the book, I feel like I can set sail and not sink my boat.
  • Published in 2018 – The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French
    • Hard Mode: debut novel for the author – failed
    • Thoughts: (3/5) Reddit hyped me up hard for this book and one the worldbuilding and plot points, I was not disappointed. On the basic and decent treatment of women point, I was so let down I almost put down the book halfway through a flight to take a nap instead. And I don’t sleep in planes. My review goes into more detail but it’s so incredibly hard to support a main character that just can’t stop remarking on the size and quality of breasts of every single female character he meets.
  • Protagonist is a Writer/Artist/Musician – Songs of Insurrection by JC Kang
    • Hard Mode: Magic is somehow linked to writing/art/music or their ability with it – complete
      • music controls emotions and sometimes dragons
    • Thoughts: (4/5) While I loved the worldbuilding (fantasy creatures in an ancient China setting? Music magic???), I wasn’t crazy about the main character Kaiya. I found her a little too naive and too lacking in agency, especially when compared to the books two older and more mature leads.
  • Mountain Setting – Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
    • Hard Mode: Not only features a mountain but the inside of a mountain – your protagonists explore caves, live in a city under a mountain, etc – complete
      • Entire book is set in a cave system
    • Thoughts: (4/5) Certainly not my favorite Sanderson novel by a long-shot but I really can’t call anything he writes ‘bad’. Spensa certainly suffers from Sanderson’s female main characters problem, but the amazing and very suspenseful worldbuilding more than made up for it. I just had to keep reading to learn just a little more about the world that Spensa lives in, and the secrets behind it.
  • 2017 /r/fantasy Top Novels List – Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
    • Hard Mode: Choose only from the bottom half of the list starting with Bartimaeus Sequence – complete
      • Book of the Ancestors (#50)
    • Thoughts: (5/5) My favorite Mark Lawrence book yet. I love Nona and the character building we get with the nuns and her classmates. The worldbuilding is classic Mark Lawrence, with a fantasy setting that’s secretly something else and I can’t wait for the world to open up so I can explore more.

Fourth Row 

  • <2500 Goodreads Ratings – A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
    • Hard Mode: Fewer than 500 ratings – complete
      • I’m probably cheating a little bit because this one’s published only a few days before bingo finishes but I read it back in November so…..
    • Thoughts: (5/5) FAVORITE DEBUT OF 2019. A cross between Ancillary Justice and Ninefox Gambit if the characters understood the word optimism. The main character, Mahit Dzmare, is amazing. Her cultural liason, Three Seagrass, is also amazing. The worldbuilding and the linguistics was very well thought out, and the poetry trashtalking was so fun to read. Also has one of my all-time favorite names: Thirty-Six All Terrain Tundra Vehicle.
  • One Word Title – Song by Jesse Teller
    • Hard Mode – title is one syllable – complete
      • song
    • Thoughts: Not my favorite. I thought the pacing felt very jarring (characters felt like they were Skyrim fast traveling) and I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters. The worldbuidling is there, but because of the choppy story telling, I felt like I couldn’t really understand anything. Rayph would show up, talk to someone, show up somewhere else, talk to them, then suddenly a big event was happening and it never felt like I had time to breath.
  • Features a God as a Character – The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Ardern
    • Hard Mode: god as the main protagonist – failed
      • I have a book for hard mode but The Bear and the Nightingale is a such a good book I couldn’t bring myself to boot it from the list
    • Thoughts: I found the pacing slow and the plot took a while to develop, but Vasya’s day to day life, as she grew up, made for a fun read. On the other hand, the priest Konstantin creeped me out so much that I was almost tempted to skip his chapters sometimes because of the contents in his internal monologue. Overall a great book.
  • Written Under a Pseudonym – 全職高手 (The King’s Avatar) – 蝴蝶蓝 (Blue Butterfly)
    • Hard Mode: author you read has published under more than one pseudonym – failed
      • I can find literally nothing about this guy on the internet
    • Thoughts: Sword Art Online vibes (without the dying in-game threat) but where Kirito is an actually interesting character and the female characters are well written. Also e-sports.
  • Space Opera – Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
    • Hard Mode: Space opera where the main protagonist is not in the military or a space pirate  – failed
      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    • Thoughts: (4/5) Fantastic book and series (and deliciously mathy) by one of my favorite space opera authors. Cheris and Jedao make for one fantastic duo and the worldbuilding in the Hexarchate is just fantastic. The following two books in the trilogy contain some of my favorite characters and scenes of all time.

Fifth Row

  • Standalone Novel – 4 Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
    • Hard Mode: stand alone that does not take place in the same universe as any other novel/series – complete
    • Thoughts: (2/5) Not a fan. Worldbuilding was a logistical nightmare and the main character fell flat. I refuse to believe a tiny island without electricity can provide enough food for an entire, fully industrialized nation. Why would you choose to make out and have sex in the middle of your infiltration? Why would you then decide to pass out during said infiltration?
  • RRAWR/Keeping Up With the Classics – The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
    • Hard Mode: Read the current book for either the RRAWR or Keeping Up With the Classics book club and participate in the discussion threads – failed
      • I am not social
    • Thoughts: Not gonna talk about this a whole lot because my review was pretty comprehensive. Pacing was a little on the slow side, but I loved Baru’s character development and I’m highly looking forward to the next book!
  • From the LGBTQ+ Database – Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis
    • Hard Mode: Read a book not currently in the LGBTQ+ Database and add it – complete!
    • Thoughts: (4/5) A cute Victorian dinner mystery with an adorable (hetero) main couple and a fantastic (lesbian) side couple. I loved Cassandra’s headstrong nature and the book is a perfect read for a wintery day.
  • Graphic Novel/Audiobook – Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
    • Hard Mode: Read one that is NOT Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples – complete
    • Thoughts: (5/5) Heartwarming graphic novel about characters trying to be villains and partially succeeding. I tried this once a year ago and put it down because I didn’t like the art, but I have since learned the error of my ways.
  • Featuring the Fae – A Court of Mists and Fury by Sarah J Maas
    • Hard Mode: Features a fae as the main protagonist – complete
      • Book 1 doesn’t work, but book 2 does
    • Thoughts: (2/5) YMMV. Basically soft erotica with fairies, tiny tiny bit of plot in between, though the supporting cast was much better (tolerable) than the previous book’s cast. Author (and editor) somehow decided that using ‘females’ and ‘males’ instead of women and men would somehow make the book not sound like a science experiment. They were wrong. I still refuse to believe “Feyre” is pronounced ‘fey-rah’ and not ‘fair’.


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