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Best of 2020 – Part 1

I had a really hard time picking my Best Of for this year. I always do, but I read SO MANY awesome books, this year. I couldn’t cut it down to a Top 20, so I divided it into genres: graphic novels, novels, yaoi manga, and webtoons. I’ve mostly been reading manga/yaoi this year, because 2020 was so stressful I could hardly concentrate. Which is not bad, for having read 300+ books this year. There is NO order, because they are all equally brilliant.

I hope you find something you like. Just in time for you all to do some last-minute Christmas shopping.

WEBTOONS

I. Was. Hooked!

The art is lovely, perhaps not stunning, but lovely and evocative.
I love the characters, the whacky situations, the strangeness and awkward reality of it.

I love Eunbyul for being real! She’s a girl, she’s got a star-crush on Kang Bin, and she gets into all these stupid situations because life isn’t fair. She berates herself, talks to herself, and has huge ranting screaming matches with herself, which is…just so real. I love her to pieces and I’m rooting for that special spark she has with Kang.

I loved the psychic element, the flashbacks, and how that part of the story was slowly drip-fed through important events near the end.
I love how Eunbyul and Kang work through problems, learn about each other, and support through important moments. I found Junghoon to be a bit obsessive, possessive and stuck on this idea of their 10-year-old friendship as kids.

Yes, I can see I’m obsessed with Kang. Just call me the President of Team Kang Bin.

I will NOT reveal who she ends up with. You MUST read it.

Loving it! Such an interesting concept! Similar to Sexerise, in some ways, but with a bit more character development, growth and romance, and it’s taking a much more direct path, which I love.
LOVE all the characters. The PT is awesome. The boss not so much.

Can’t wait to see how Season 2 progresses.

I got totally sucked into this and couldn’t stop until it was done.

It was funny, smart, clever, original, sweet. A perfect blend of sweet Dong-gyun, his sometimes funny, sometimes tragic romance with Alex/Jiwon, Jiwon’s sexiness, and Changwoo’s kinkiness. It’s a Rom-Com of epic proportions, that gives you all the feels!

I seriously haven’t read anything this funny in a LONG time. I utterly love!!!!!! Dong-gyun. I love how he’s growing, learning, and pushing himself as well as his boundaries with Alex.
WHY??? How can I go from laughing so hard it hurts to sobbing like a baby??? Why would they do this to me????
O.M.G. “If only we’d met in high school”…now I want to know how that would have played out!!

One goth. One prep. One jock. One nerd. = One love-square! These guys find their way from friends/strangers/roommates to boyfriends, all dating each other in a beautiful relationship that grows and learns over time. There’s also an appearance, later on, of an identical love-square between Jock’s sister, a goth girl, a nerd girl, and Prep’s arch-nemesis, female-Prep. Solid thumbs up! #TeamNerd/Goth/Prep/Jock

Wow! Okay…let me try to process this.

First off, I tried the free sample and was a bit afraid to try it. I’m not great at dark books, and this seemed like the darkest I’ve read in a long time, but when there was a free event, with a few episodes that could let me sink my teeth in without the financial commitment, I gave it a shot.

First thing I notice…I legit love how psychotic Sangwoo is. Like, totally normal guy one minute, raging psychopath the next, super-crazy sadist in between. And the more the story progresses, the more he loses his shit and can’t keep it together.
I also love how Yoon-Bum flips between loving/hating Sangwoo, knowing his imprisonment is wrong, but also knowing he’s got nothing better waiting. No one looking for him. He takes his chances to escape, but they always slip through his fingers.
The struggle is real!

I love Park Tae-Seung and Soo-young, especially together. I can’t wait to see how the story progresses. There’s a great mix of heat, mafia-style business, and romance. There is so much storyline in just a handful of chapters, that I only see greater things in the future.

Long Exposure, by Kam “Mars” Heyward is a YA comic available online.

WOW! What a rollercoaster ride!

People have been recommending this webcomic for ages, but I’m impatient, so I deliberately waited for the update that said it only had one update left, then BINGED that entire thing in one day. And I don’t regret a single moment.
It was brilliant.
The snark, innuendos and humour of Mitch was perfectly balanced by the sense, logic and morals of Joey. Their relationship was cute, adorable and I never once felt that it wasn’t genuine.
The story was a bit darker than I expected, with the stepdad storylines, but it was a great story overall. I really hope the Kickstarter does well, because I’d love to have this is a book format. (Without the $50 delivery charge of buying each chapter volume, because I’m in the UK!)

This is such an interesting concept. Seungho is a noble, who is fascinated with Na-kyum’s artwork, which depicts erotic gay art in his paintings. As someone who is revered and feared, Seungho doesn’t take no for an answer and kidnaps Na-kyum to make him his private painter. But things take a turn when feelings begin to develop.

It’s sometimes sweet, sometimes hot and spicy, and mostly heart-breaking as Na-kyum falls for Seungho, but Seungho keeps an emotional distance. The artwork is STUNNING!

I read a preview on FB and it was so funny, I gave some of the free episodes a try, when there was an event. Now I’m hooked. Yes, it’s a gym where they lose weight through sex, but it’s FRICKIN’ HILARIOUS!
I’m already shipping Bae Woong with his trainer, the sweet Soohyun. And I’m shipping the super-serious narcissist Charim with the curvy Hyuna. And I LOVE how crazy Hani Unnie is.

But, be warned…this is a slooooow burn. It took 45 episodes to get to where I was hoping they’d get, through a lot of side stories that are, actually, really relevant.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Here, that’s taken in a whole new direction. This is about how Harleen becomes Harley, and…know what? I can see it. Harley is surrounded by criminals, madmen, and police who are at their wits end. […] she explores his psyche (or thinks she does) and they find this weird bond with each other. The Joker knows he can easily manipulate her, if he just plays the right cards, and Harley believes that she can save him from his inner monster if she just finds the right buttons to push. In a way, they set out to manipulate each other, and – to an extent – fall for each other’s manipulation. The Joker finds her intriguing and captivating enough to take her along for the ride, in the end; and Harley falls for his seduction hook-line-and-sinker.

I loved that little end panel with Batman and Alfred, because Alfred was the only one to see the Joker’s first sign of vulnerability.

As well as the STUNNING art, there was so much about this that I loved.

Strange Skies Over East Berlin is an utter masterpiece!
Stunning visuals combine with a twisty, intriguing plot that is so original and clever, I never anticipated a single moment. I was on the edge of my seat from page 1, right through the gritty artwork, the exploration of spies in Berlin, and the evolution of the central character. The storytelling was incredible, something saying little on a page, but having so much impact and meaning. The visionary plot, stunning visuals of the artwork, and the incredible way it all came together to make a flawless sci-fi inspired historical story, about war, identity, truth and lies, left me spellbound.
I’m buying this in paperback, immediately!

It tells the story in two parts – modern day archaeology, and historical Roman era from 190BC.

For me, an archaeology buff, I absolutely loved the split timeline. It told the story perfectly. We got to see a majority of Cassio’s story, as it was the most vital part, but I loved how the archaeology team got to tell an alternative aspect of his story. The mystery was perfect, intriguing. I loved the revelation of how the story unfolded and wove into the Roman culture, the way Cassio’s opinions of what was considered “normal” in Roman life had changed because of what he experienced. There was good pacing, and I can’t wait to start the next volume. I’m off to buy the rest of the series now.

Clever, original, intriguing re-telling of Oliver. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Oliver is an anomaly. Not just an orphan, but a mixed blood of unnamed origin, who can survive in a world that he shouldn’t be able to live in.
The backstory of super soldiers created to fight a war, mass produced by machine birth, gives it a Resident Evil/Matrix vibe. The artwork is gritty, dark and foreboding. The perfect atmosphere for the story that’s being told.
Really interested to see how it continues.

Update: It’s now been a year since Issue #4 so I don’t know when this will be updated, but I would like to see it continue. It began something interesting and I want to know how they’re going to finish it.

While this was easily one of the strangest books I’ve read, it’s not THE strangest. In fact, it’s on the list but pretty far down.
With gorgeous illustrations, full of colour and detail, the world was vivid and alive. Yes, it’s cats. Sure, that’s a little strange, but it was also weirdly brilliant. Every word, phrase and action was thought about before it was put into motion. The fact that these were cat-people was a constant theme and it never failed to make sense. It was fun, smart and original, clever right down to the last detail, and had a fun, surprising ending that will make me want to read the next volume, for sure.
And, oddly enough, it was full of real-world relevance, which is the cleverest part of it all. Because, there’s a population crisis, science, health issues, childhood bullies, compassion, a desperate need to help their people even if it means doing the wrong thing, abandonment issues, and an apocalyptic world that is, scarily, possible.
I will never look at cats the same way again.

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