The /r/Fantasy Bingo is a yearly Bingo hosted on the /r/Fantasy subreddit, created by Lisa from WayTooFantasy. Like the name implies, this is a 25-square book-themed Bingo with each square holding a different challenge. Each author can only be used once and only one square can be a re-read. The challenge runs from 1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020. An empty card can be found here.
As an extra challenge, almost every square comes with a ‘hard mode’ challenge. These can be anything from ‘don’t read XX’ book to ‘read a book with <50 ratings on GR’. In the card below, squares that complete hard mode are denoted in yellow.
I completed 2018’s card fairly easily, so I didn’t think 2019 would be much different. By mid-June, I was in a pretty good spot, with 9/25 squares filled. And then I hit the biggest reading slump of my life, didn’t touch another book till January, read about a book/per month. So, thank the gods for this quarantine because I would not have had time otherwise? I read 9 books in about a week in a half get this card finished, but alas, I have succeeded! Also novellas. Novellas carried my ass.
Below, you’ll find mini-reviews for each book read and links to full reviews if available. I do plan on writing full reviews for all but the Code Geass light novel and possibly Artemis Fowl.
- Female Authors – 13/25 – 52% | Male Authors – 7/25 – 28% | NB Authors – 1/25 – 4%| Multi-Author – 3/25 – 12%| Gender Unknown – 1/25 – 4%
- Hard Mode – 13/25 – 52%
- Average Word Count – 84128
- Average Page Count – 299
- Books Published in 2018/2019 – 15/25 – 60%
Slice of Life/Small Scale Fantasy
Hard Mode: don’t read Record of a Spaceborn Few
What I read: The Cybernetic Cafe by Meredith Katz
Thoughts: Ace rep and robots, so I’m automatically a fan. However, outside of fanfiction, Slife of Life is NOT my genre. I was bored. It was cute, but boring.
SFF Novel Featuring a Character with a Disability
Hard Mode: MC has a disability
What I read: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Thoughts: A compelling YA novel inspired by the Russia WWII Night Witches about developing female friendships. I enjoyed the small scope (no ‘save the world’ plots here). The worldbuilding is solidly done and leave plenty of room for further exploration.
Hard Mode: not published by Tor.com
What I read: This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone
Thoughts: Some of the best damn prose I’ve read in an SFF novel in the last five years, along with some fun-if-confusing timey-wimey time travel shenanigans. Also an F/F enemies-to-lovers relationship.
Self-Published SFF Novel
Hard Mode: <50 ratings on GoodReads
What I read: The Mortician of Avalon by KR Williams
Thoughts: A self-pubbed webserial gem I recently discovered on Tapas. While the writing could probably go through a round of editing, the story (murder mystery where the detective meets the prime suspect and realizes that suspect is his soulmate, also dragons) is cute as fuck and extremely engaging.
SFF Novel Featuring Twins
Hard Mode: At least one of the twins is the MC
What I read: The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
Thoughts: A fantastic Asian-inspired fantasy novella that envelops the reader in worldbuilding. While I thought the pacing could be longer, it was overall an great read. Also, there’s this absolutely beautiful scene where one of the characters realizes he’s male, and I had to put the book down because of how moving it was.
Novel Featuring Vampires
Hard Mode: Main protagonist is a vampire
What I read: The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare, Wesley Chu
Thoughts: A great addition to the Shadowhunters universe, and frankly, a good entry novel as well. Magnus remains my favorite character and Malec my favorite pairing. The best part is that while the two undergo conflicts, they TALK THROUGH THEIR PROBLEMS, like REAL ADULTS.
Graphic Novel/Audiobook/Audio Drama
Hard Mode: Start a new graphic novel/audiobook >25 hours
What I read: The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, Rivers Solomon, S.L. Huang
Thoughts: My first audio drama from SerialBox and I loved it! Creative worldbuilding, well-fleshed out characters, captivating plot. I wasn’t sure how cohesive the story would be told with four authors, but it came through fine. I really liked that this drama explores the layers of extremity from groups of people supposedly on the same ‘side’ of an argument and those nuances.
SFF Novel by a Local to You Author
Hard Mode: Read the closest local author to yu
What I read: Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
Thoughts: Yeah I bought this one for the cover. Thankfully, it was also really good. I live in the Midwest and finding a MidWestern SFF author was going to be difficult. However, I did a summer internship in California, so I’m using this book written by a San Francisco native. Soft and very very queer, Passing Strange explores homophobia and anti-Asian racism in SF in the 70s yet delivers a hopeful message in the end.
SFF Novel Featuring an Ocean Setting
Hard Mode: >50% of the book takes place in/on the ocean
What I read: The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Thoughts: While a very nuanced and atmospheric novella exploring the rebirth of babies of drowned pregnant women with fantastic worldbuiling, I found the main character frustrating to read.
Hard Mode: Not Neuromancer or Snow Crash
What I read: Ninth Step Station by Malka Ann Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi, Curtis C. Chen
Thoughts: Crime dramas are really suited for a serial format, which makes the audio drama format such a good choice for 9th Step Station. Emma and Miyako friendship and character development are lovely and lead the listener through war-torn futuristic Tokyo. I loved listening about the technology like the expanded use for drone and augments of varying degrees of weird that get described.
2nd Chance Novel
Hard Mode: n/a, it’s already hard
What I read: The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Thoughts: I really don’t want to dignify this one with a review, it’s my ‘2nd Chance’ novel for a reason. I only read the half I couldn’t stomach in 2017, and I don’t think I lacked understanding in any part of the story. Tl;dr – Adelina Amouteru is Edgy™, makes bad decisions, and acts surprised when the situation gets worse.
Hard Mode: Read a book with <1000 GoodReads ratings
What I read: Binti by Nnedi Okafor
Thoughts: Math powers!!! She has math powers!!! A fun sci-fi novella that I wish was longer but alas. Still very enjoyable. Technically Binti falls under Africanfuturism, but for the sake of a Bingo square, I think it counts.
SFF Novel Published in 2019
Hard Mode: Read a debut novel
What I read: Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
Thoughts: One of my top 5 YA novels for 2019 following the (extremely unhealthy) relationship between two sisters on the run for being animal mages (basically druids) while simultaneously looing for phoenix eggs to revive the legendary Phoenix Riders of old. The amount of work the author puts into developing the history (there’s a full lineage of kings and queens and their significant contributions) is stunning and I’m really looking forward to the sequel. Also THAT COVER
Middle-Grade SFF Novel
Hard Mode: cannot use a re-read
What I read: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Thoughts: Artemis Fowl is a perfect book and the movie can go fuck itself
A Personal Recommendation from r/Fantasy
Hard Mode: Not the most frequently recommended book
What I read: One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence
Thoughts: I’ve never disliked one of Mark’s books til now but I guess there’s a first for everything. The MC Nick was an insufferable perspective to read from and the focus on romance was hard to read because Nick and Mia had zero chemistry together. Mia can do so much better. Like Ready Player One, One Word Kill relies hard on 80s nostalgia to carry the book and as someone not alive in the 80s, it fell flat.
Any r/fantasy Book Club/Read-along Book
Hard Mode: Read the current BoTM/Participate in the discussions
What I read: The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by KS Villoso
Thoughts: Definitely a book I should have picked up earlier. Anyone in search of a ‘complex’ female protagonist should look no further than Talyien, the Bitch Queen. I didn’t necessarily agree with Talyien or really like her character at times, but I sure as hell rooted for her. Paired with the gorgeous Asian-inspired worldbuilding and food descriptions guaranteed to make you hungry, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro has a lot of love.
Media Tie-In Novel
Hard Mode: Don’t read a Star Wars novel
What I read: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – Stage 0: Entrance by Goro Taniguchi
Thoughts: I’ve never seen Lelouch Lamperouge written so out-of-character and I used to read a lot of Code Geass fanfic
Novel Featuring an AI Character
Hard Mode: MC is an AI
What I read: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Thoughts: Obama recced it so I had to read it, that’s how this works right? For anyone who likes their Sci-Fi really really science-y, this is your book. Liu shows off his computer engineering degree by having character build not one, but two basically logic processors using two drastically different methods. The tradeoff here is that the characters read incredibly 1-dimensional and the writing style seemed a little stiff.
SFF Novel That Has a Title of 4+ (inclusive) Words
Hard Mode: Title has 7+ words
What I read: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Thoughts: Empress of All Seasons offers an interesting premise (fighting for the hand of the emperor, but also MC is a yokai and the Empire is racist against those), but poor execution. I’m tired of reading YA novels where the main couple meet for 10 minutes and decide, yup, we’re fate to be together let’s get married rn cool cool. Especially when the main couple have basically no chemistry together. I thought the twist at the end was interesting but also the last several chapters could have been their own book so
Hard Mode: Retelling of a previously published work
What I read: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
Thoughts: Aliette really has a knack for fantastic f/f sci-fi retellings (see In the Vanisher’s Palace). This book retells Sherlock Holmes, except Watson is a shipmind (AI for a ship) that brews psychotic teas for humans to scrap a living. Also people wear robots as jewelry, which is Very Cool. While the plot itself is straightforward (murder mystery, it’s Sherlock Holmes), this novella does a really good job at using the plot as a vehicle to enhance character development and worldbuilding.
SFF Novel by an Australian Author
Hard Mode: Australian small press/self-pub
What I read: We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
Thoughts: Another ‘book that’s been on the TBR for too long’ book that was absolutely lovely. Er, and gorey. Very gorey. Madson comes up with very creative ways to kill people then makes those deaths very explicit. It’s been a while since I’ve read a large-scale, grim epic fantasy book and the first time main-ish character got killed off, I was caught off-guard. But after that, I had fun. There are some great characters in here and I look forward to book 2. Technically, I read the self-pub version so I’m counting this one for hard mode even if it got picked up by Orbit (congrats Devin!).
Final Book of a Series
Hard Mode: Last book published decade+
What I read: Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn
Thoughts: My new favorite Imperial! I’ve had no exposure to Thrawn prior to the new Thrawn trilogy and oh man I fell in love. I binged the entire trilogy in three days over Christmas because damn these books are amazing. I was really happy to see Eli Vanto (best boy) return in the last book and as always, I loved the space-fights with Thrawn ten steps ahead of everyone else. Definitely the best Star Wars books I’ve read so far.
Hard Mode: Author + protag share 2+ marginalized identities
What I read: The Hanged Man by KD Edwards
Thoughts: I fell in love with this series after reading The Last Sun and The Hanged Man easily trumps it. We get more, of, well, everything really. More adventures with Rune and Brand, meeting the rest of the Major Arcana, more Lord Tower (hrrrrng), just overall lovely stuff. This book also dives into some Deep Shit, which to be fair, was alluded to in book 1, but I still wasn’t fully expecting. However, that gets balanced out with Rune and Brand’s antics, which make for just an overall fantastic book.
LitRPG -> Replaced with Dragons! (2018)
Hard Mode: Written by a female author (technically achieved?)
What I read: Temeraire by Naomi Novik
Thoughts: I was going to read a LitRPG book! I swear I was! But this was the last square on the list, The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System is over 300K words long and I would have had to finish it all in 23 hours (doable but stressful). So I relented and replaced that square with Dragons! (2018), using Temeraire which I’d read in the summer. Temeraire (both book and character) are fucking fantastic and everyone should be reading it. We get to watch Temeraire grow from hatchling to young adult and every part of that experience is a delight to read. Do yourself a favor and read this one.
Five SFF Short Stories
Hard Mode Read the entire anthology
What I read: Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee
Thoughts: A must-read for any fan of The Machineries of the Empire trilogy. We get snippets of Jedao as a child and young adult in Shuos school (pre-all the bad shit), Cheris as a kid, and also Jedao’s uniform kink short. All good stuff. What really makes this book worth reading though is “Glass Cannon”, a “what-if novella that takes place after Revenant Gun, featuring the team-up every fan wanted but never got. And also it teases the setup for another series in-universe? If there’s more Mikodez, I’ll be extremely happy.