It’s almost time to submit our final bingo cards for the r/Fantasy Bingo reading challenge. I finished mine late last year and I finalised my picks. I’ve since read more books that could’ve fit these prompts but I stuck with these. I made a list of potential reads for each prompt and due to another reading challenge, I changed up my reading a lot. Only a few of my original picks have made it on this list.
I really like this reading challenge and I can’t wait for the new bingo to go up in April and think about my reading list. I won’t be taking part in any competitions as a judge so that’s going to free up a lot of my reading time.
A Book from r/Fantasy’s Top LGBTQIA List Any book on this list, including sequels. HARD MODE: A book or series that received ten votes or less.
My Original Pick Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
My Eventual Pick How To Lose The Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar
This is a really cute love story told through letters. I’m usually not one for epistolary stories but I enjoyed this one a lot. It’s a novella so there’s not a lot of space but we get glimpses of the world and character growth from both sides. Some of their adventures are pretty interesting and I would’ve loved to see more of it.
Weird Ecology Story takes place in a world that is wildly different from our own and includes such things as unique environments, strange flora and fauna, unusual ecosystems, etc. The difference in environment, flora and fauna, and ecosystems cannot simply be “it’s a fantasy world,” but something that is fundamentally different about the world itself. HARD MODE: Not written by Jeff VanderMeer or China Miéville.
My Original pick None
My Eventual Pick Eternity Wheel by Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves & Mallory Reaves.
Eternity Wheel is the last book in this series. I read the first book when I was a teen so I didn’t remember everything but when I saw it on Scribd, I knew I wanted to finish the series. The ending is bittersweet but well-deserved for all the characters. We get more interesting worlds and versions of Jay. Definitely a fun portal sci-fi.
Two or More Authors Any book written by two or more authors such as This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Anthologies count! HARD MODE: Three or more authors.
My Original pick The Wand-Maker’s Debate by Jack D. Albrecht Jr. & Ashley Delay
My Eventual Pick Hex Life edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering
I love witches so this anthology has been on my TBR for a long time. You get all kinds of witches in this anthology, some I liked more than others, as is often the case. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a great job with the different voices and accents.
Historical SFF Any book within the historical fantasy subgenre. HARD MODE: Not based in Britain or Ireland.
My Original pick Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire.
My Eventual Pick The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo, but I finished reading Bloodlaced this month.
One of the first audiobooks I listened to. I was recovering from surgery and couldn’t read. Being on painkillers didn’t help with the processing, and the character names confused me at first. I probably would’ve done better at understanding the book if I did an immersive read. That said, I did enjoy the narration and was intrigued by the world-building.
Set in Space A book that takes place primarily (at least 50%) off planet. HARD MODE: Characters are not originally from Earth. It is acceptable for the characters to be descendants of Earthlings as long as they are not themselves from Earth.
My Original pick None
My Eventual Pick The Last Gifts of the Universe by Rory August
This book is so cute. If you pick up this one, be prepared to feel things. It might not seem like an emotional book when you start it but the last part of the book will destroy you. Great characters, touching story, and well-written. Also a SPSFC semi-finalist.
Standalone A book that is not part of a series or a larger world. No connected novellas or short stories. HARD MODE: Not on r/Fantasy’s Favorite Standalones List.
My Original pick The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True by Sean Gibson.
My Eventual Pick The Knave of Secrets by Alex Livingston
I got this book as part of a book tour. It features a heist and card tricks in a fantasy setting. I was intrigued. I loved the story, the characters are so-so, but it was the weird time jumps that made this an average book. There are huge time jumps between chapters with only the bare minimum description of what happened in between. There’s a lot of telling which felt unnecessary.
Anti-Hero Wikipedia describes an antihero as “a character in a story who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes, such as idealism, courage, and morality. Although antiheroes may sometimes perform actions that are morally correct, it is not always for the right reasons, often acting primarily out of self-interest or in ways that defy conventional ethical codes.” HARD MODE: A YA book with an anti-hero.
My Original pick The Jealousy of Jalice by Jesse Nolan Bailey
My Eventual Pick Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
Another one I picked the audiobook of. I loved the narration, still one of the best I’ve heard. A.R.T. is one my favourite characters in the Murderbot universe. So far, this is my favourite of the series but I still have a few to read.
Book Club OR Readalong Book Any past or active r/Fantasy book clubs count (HEA, Mod, Classics, Resident Author, Feminism in Fantasy, etc.), as well as past or active r/Fantasy readalongs. HARD MODE: Must read a current selection of either a book club or readalong and participate in the discussion.
My Original pick Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
My Eventual Pick The Order of the Pure Moon of the Reflected Moon by Zen Cho
I picked this one up for my birthday. Zen Cho is lovely so I wanted to read more books by her. I really enjoyed this one. For a novella, the characters experience a lot of growth and the world-building is also enough to immerse yourself.
Cool Weapon At least one main character uses a weapon with magical properties. HARD MODE: Weapon has a unique name.
My Original pick None
My Eventual Pick The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
While the weapon doesn’t have a name, there’s a sword with magical properties. The Stardust Thief was one of my favourite reads and I’m really looking forward to the second book. The characters are great, the world dangerous, and the writing filled with spice.
Revolutions and Rebellions A book featuring a revolution. Any overthrowing of governments, monarchs, and systems will do. HARD MODE: Revolution/Rebellion is the main focus of the plot.
My Original pick Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan
My Eventual Pick Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan
One of the few that survived. This is a series I want to finish this year, so you might see the last book on my reading list for the next bingo. It’s not as good as the first book. The characters didn’t have that much growth (either good or bad). It’s a plotdriven novel at this point and I’m not feeling it, but I’m still curious about the last book. Sequels are notoriously hard so I hope the last book can redeem the overall series.
Name in the Title A character’s first name appears in the title. Example: Gideon the Ninth. HARD MODE: The title has the character’s first and last name.
My Original pick Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel by Susanna Clarke
My Eventual Pick The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle
This is another book that was on my TBR for a long time. I don’t read a lot of horror but cosmic horror has interested me. H.P. Lovecraft has his issues so reading this one felt better. I loved this one, and would love to read more by the author. There’s just enough creepy stuff to keep me reading but not enough to make me put it down. Definitely recommend.
Author Uses Initials Read a book by an author who goes by their initials like N. K. Jemisin or uses initials somewhere in their name like George R. R. Martin. HARD MODE: Initials are a pseudonym and not from the author’s actual name.
My Original pick The Witches of the Wytewoods by M. J. Thompson
My Eventual Pick Tropical Punch by S.C. Jensen
One of the slush pile of SPSFC but one I loved very much. I pushed hard for this one to get into the semi-finals and I’m glad the book made it through. It’s a fun sci-fi story following a PI on one of her cases. Her petsmart Hamlet acts as her sidekick. It has great disability rep too.
Published in 2022 A book published for the first time in 2022. HARD MODE: It’s also a debut novel–as in it’s the author’s first published novel.
My Original pick Why Odin Drinks by Bjorn Larssen
My Eventual Pick Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans
An ARC read. Notorious Sorcerer drew my attention mostly because of the alchemist approach, one you don’t see often. The magic system is interesting, as is the worldbuilding, but the main character I didn’t care for. It sometimes feels too convenient even though he fails a lot too.
Urban Fantasy A subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative uses supernatural elements in a 19th-century to 21st-century urban society. Often overlaps with other subgenres like paranormal romance and superhero stories. HARD MODE: Book has an LGBTQ+ POV character.
My Original pick Witch’s Bell by Odette C. Bell
My Eventual Pick The Reanimator’s Heart by Kara Jorgensen
One of my top reads of last year. The book features two gay and two lesbian characters, one of them is autistic. It takes place in turn-of-the-century (20th) New York and follows a magic investigator on a case of a dead nun. The coroner is necromancer. If there are dead nuns involved, you know bad things are going to happen. Please give it a read.
Set in Africa Book must either be set in Africa like Rosewater by Tade Thompson or in an analogous setting that is based on a real-world African setting like Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. HARD MODE: Author is of African heritage.
My Original pick A Master of Djin by P. Djèlí Clark
My Eventual Pick The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark
I listened to The Haunting of Tram Car 015 during my recovery and it was another one I really enjoyed. The narrator did amazing voices and it was always clear to me who spoke. The story itself was fun and exciting. It made me really excited to dive into more of the author’s work.
Non-Human Protagonist Main character must not be human or partially human. Humanoid aliens or anthropomorphic animals do count. HARD MODE: Non-humanoid protagonist. No elves, angels, dwarves, hobbits, or humanoid aliens.
My Original pick A Lonely World Where The People Are Blue by Rey S Morfin
My Eventual Pick Merchants of Knowledge and Magic by Erika McCorkle
Merchants of Knowledge and Magic is an amazing book with 25 years of world-building. Humans only exist off-page in another dimension so all the characters are non-human. It discusses dark themes so check the content warnings if you need it but I’d recommend it if you’re looking for great and original world-building. There’s so much depth, the author includes footnotes to go deeper into the lore.
Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Any book that deals with time not behaving as it should. Time travel, time slips, time loops, time stopping, multiple timelines, etc., all work for this square. HARD MODE: No time travel. Book involves something off about time that’s not necessarily time travel.
My Original pick Children of Chaos by Trudie Skies
My Eventual Pick The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones
This is a classic. You can’t go wrong with Diana Wynne Jones book although this one isn’t as good as some of her others. It’s still a solid standalone YA portal fantasy.
Five SFF Short Stories Any short story as long as there are five of them. HARD MODE: Read an entire SFF anthology or collection.
My Original pick Winter Wonders edited by Chris Durston and C. D. Storitz. Disclaimer: I have a story in there but there are at least five I haven’t written.
My Eventual Pick A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
My second anthology on this list and I liked this one more than Hex Life. There were more stories I loved and the writing styles of the different authors fit me better. I’m definitely going back to re-read some of them. If you want to dip your toe into Asian-inspired fairy tales, this is a good place to start..
Features Mental Health Story takes a strong interest in or explores themes like mental wellness and illness, self-care, and so on. HARD MODE: Not The Stormlight Archive or any books in the linked list.
My Original pick A Luke Tarzian book
My Eventual Pick The World Maker Parable by Luke Tarzian
Another one that I’d count for making the final pick. Luke Tarzian is an amazing writer and I can’t imagine him writing anything that didn’t feature mental health in some shape or form. The things he can do with words is magic. If you haven’t read anything by him yet, I urge you to do so.
Self-Published OR Indie Publisher Self-published or published through a small, indie publisher. HARD MODE: Self-published and has fewer than 100 ratings on Goodreads, OR an indie publisher that has done an AMA with r/Fantasy.
My Original pick None
My Eventual Pick Clarity of Cold Steel by Kevin Wright
I could’ve picked so many books for this one, but this is another SPSFC book. I didn’t like the writing style much but the story itself was good. The characters were interesting too. If the writing style doesn’t put you off, I’d definitely recommend it.
Award Finalist, But Not Won Any book that was short-listed for an award (or multiple awards) but never received an award. HARD MODE: Neither Hugo-nominated nor Nebula-nominated.
My Original pick None
My Eventual Pick The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
I checked Worlds Without End so much for this one. Thankfully, they have most of the major awards listed so I found a book by Stephanie Burgis I hadn’t read yet (not many left). It’s a middle grade novel but it features dragons and chocolate. What’s not to like? If you have a pre-teen kid, I’m sure they’d love this one. If you’re an adult who still enjoys MG novels, you should check it out too.
BIPOC Author Author must be Black, Indigenous or a Person of Color. HARD MODE: A book written by an Indigenous author.
My Original pick The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in the Water by Zen Cho
My Eventual Pick The Genesis War by Akemi Dawn Bowman
The Genesis War is the sequel to The Infinity Court, a book I loved in 2021. I didn’t even know it had come out already so I was lucky to find the audiobook on Scribd. It’s the same as Girls of Storm and Shadow, not as good as the first one, but I want to see where it goes. There’s a major twist at the end that stunned me. This redeemed the whole book for me.
Shapeshifters At least one character has the ability to change their physical form. HARD MODE: Most prominent shifter is not a wolf/dog shifter. For instance, werewolves can exist but can’t be the most notable shifter characters/main characters.
My Original pick Other by Karen Kincy
My Eventual Pick Of Charms, Ghosts, and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard
It’s rare that a year goes by and I don’t read a book by Aliette de Bodard. Thuan is can shapeshift into a dragon and that’s only a tiny part of why he’s amazing. I love him and Asmodeus as a couple. This time they have to keep two kids safe, not something Asmodeus should be doing. Another novella I loved.
No Ifs, Ands, or Buts Title does not include the following words: the, a/an, and, or, if, of, but. HARD MODE: Title is three words or more.
My Original pick Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
My Eventual Pick Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman
I listened to this one. I watched the movie a long time ago and it was one of my favourites. The audiobook is different although some parts are definitely recognisable. It doesn’t give of the same feel as the movie did and I blame the lack of the Dave McKean aesthetic.
Family Matters A book that features biological family ties. Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children – as long as the relationship plays a part, it’s welcome for this square. HARD MODE: Features at least three generations in a single family.
My Original pick The Heir by Keira Cass
My Eventual Pick The Iron Crown by L. L. MacRae
The Iron Crown is an epic fantasy with dragons spirits. RJ Bayley did the narration and I loved how he did it. I listened to the audiobook on Scribd after it came out and didn’t take many breaks. He just pulls you into the story and MacRae made sure there was enough to hold you in. Definitely a great book to dive into if you want more fierce dragons and gryphons.