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Posts tagged ‘Pernille Hughes’

10 of the Best Books I read in 2019

It’s 2020! I’m not sure how we suddenly arrived at 2020, but here it is. A new month, a new year, a new decade.

And many, many new books to read. Yay!

2019 was a stand out year for me in both reading and writing  (see next week’s post for more about that). I met many great books, and authors, for the first time. In this post, I’m listing my Top 10 of 2019. I’m dividing them My Way, in alphabetical order by genre, because numbers are too hard, don’t you think? I’ve already made a resolution to do a top 20 at the end of this year … 10 is too few!

All of these books found me with a permanent smile of pure enjoyment on my face, cover to cover. Except when things got scary, of course. I recommend them all, especially if your taste in reading matter matches mine.

Dystopian

I thoroughly enjoyed A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson, which is set in a future Melbourne with recognisable characters, a neat twist of time-and-space travel through a folding map, and a great deal of wit. It’s tender and thoughtful and clever. I loved it. This was one of my Aurealis reviews.

Fantasy

Too many to choose from, of course, when we start talking about my favourite genre. However, for sheer ingenuity and enjoyment, I’m nominating Desdemona and the Deep by CSE Cooney. I loved every baroque word of this glorious adventure. I reviewed this for Aurealis and named it one of my two favourite ‘books of the year’. Yes, we were allowed to choose TWO.

Only two! LOL

Middle Grade

This was quite a crowded field for me this year. The story which has lingered longest  is Voyage of the Dogs by Greg Van Eekhout. I just loved the Barkonauts on the crippled spaceship Laika trying their best to find a home. Dogs and space travel. How could I resist? Read my review here.

Historical Fiction

This is of course another favourite genre for me, which always makes it difficult to choose. Yes, I know: all these are difficult to choose. Right up there is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. I am a dedicated reader of Barker’s wonderful writing, and this did not disappoint. A clever and touching re-telling of the Trojan War story. Read my review here.

Re-Read of the Year

Even with so many new books to devour, I regularly go back to old favourites (as described in my little visit to Sandra Danby’s Porridge & Cream blog!). There’s something ultimately comforting about meeting old friends again and seeing them reach their satisfying conclusion. My favourite re-read of 2019 was Cotillion by Georgette Heyer. I hadn’t touched this for quite a while and I’d forgotten how much I love Freddie and Kitty. Talk about a feel good story! When I feel low, I read Heyer.

Romance

This year it was Probably the Best Kiss in the World by Pernille Hughes. I loved the slightly prickly heroine Jen and the irresistible setting of Copenhagen – not to mention the divine Dane, Yakob. Sassy, engaging, and very satisfying. Read my review here.

Sci Fi

My second nominated ‘book of the year’ for Aurealis was Icefall by Stephanie Gunn. Maggie and her wife Aisha travel to the planet of Icefall so that Maggie can climb the mountain that nobody has ever survived … I was enthralled! Space, diversity, adventure, romance, and AI. Perfect.

Science-History-Speculation

Yes, how to categorise this book? I absolutely loved Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton. Science, pre-history, suspense, survival, adventure, mystery … all intelligently written and wrapped in an engaging novel. Read my review here.

Series Conclusion

I was lucky enough to read the whole series for Aurealis this year, and Queens of the Sea by Kim Wilkins was a fabulous conclusion to a sword-and-sorcery adventure about five royal sisters. My favourite is of course Bluebell who is the warrior sister, with her own special magic.

Witchcraft

Can you believe I’ve started reading some witchy books? My 2019 favourite was The Lights Go Out in Lychford by Paul Cornell.  This short novella, which I reviewed in Aurealis, is very well crafted and great fun, and definitely makes me want to read more about the Witches of Lychford. You’ll devour it in one gulp and come up slightly scared, mostly reassured, and looking for more.

That’s the list for 2019. I’ve already started a list for 2020, but more about that next week. In the meantime, happy reading, happy writing.

Probably the Best Kiss in the World by Pernille Hughes

This is probably the best romantic story of the decade, and definitely the best of the year. I know it’s only April, but contenders have a lot to beat with this sassy, funny, thoughtful and brilliantly executed novel.
From the very first page, Pernille Hughes captivated me with her perfectly imangined and expressed ensemble cast. Jen (our heroine) has a boss who is a complete incarnation of the rich, entitled, beautifully coiffed business woman who ‘has it all’ (money, looks, great staff, children, show-off-able partner) but doesn’t actually understand the real life costs of her way of living on people who are less privileged. In a short, brilliantly witty scene, the author tells us all this without an excess word or a hint of judgement. It’s all there for the reader – we are trusted to suss out these characters and enter their ways of thinking and behaving. Brilliant! I thought, I’m going to love this book.
And from there it only gets better.

best Kiss Pernille Hughes
Jen is very engaging and her relationship with her sister Lydia provides a context and emotional depth that is too often missing in modern romance. Jen is REAL, and fully understandable, even if we don’t always agree with her choices … which of course she manages to repair by the end. Lydia is a wonderful, inspiring character (who really deserves a book of her own – I would definitely read it!). Jen’s other dedication – to her dream of a micro-brewery – is also a clever addition, giving her even more depth and purpose.
The scenes in Copenhagen are very grounded and charming, making me sigh with the remembered pleasure of my last visit there. I’m sure this book should entice many an English-speaking traveller to explore Denmark – maybe the Danish tourist board should hand it out at promotional events. If only we could all meet the perfect Dane. Ah, Yakob. Hamlet, you are SO old hat with your hand-wringing style of romance – poor Ophelia. Move over and let lucky (and deserving) Jen and Yakob get on with it.
All in all, this is a pleasure to read and wull brighten anyone’s day. Satisfying all the needs of the genre, Probably the Best Kiss also manages to deliver more depth and engagement than many in this mode. I will be looking out with great interest for this author’s next book.

Something to Say: Pernille Hughes

Something to Say is pleased to welcome Pernille Hughes, whose debut novel has just been released. So exciting. Brand spanking new book!

pernille writer pic 2 (1)Photo by I. Hughes

STS: Welcome, Pernille. This must be a thrilling time for you! Tell us something about your project.

My debut novel Sweatpants At Tiffanie’s was published on August 3rd. It’s a Romcom, a second-chance love story, a HEA story, and ‘getting up again when life punches you in the face’ story.

STS: That’s HEA as in Happily Ever After, yes?

It certainly is! Tiffanie Trent gets dumped by boyfriend Gavin on their 10th anniversary. Heartbroken and homeless, Tiff, a bookkeeper at an old-school boxing gym, figures that at least she has her job. But then the owner drops dead, leaving her floundering. When she then inherits the gym, Tiff, not sporty at all, needs to decide if she can take it on, defy the naysayers who say she can’t do it, and bring the club and her life into a better state of play.

STS: And Sweatpants At Tiffanie’s was just released last week on August 3rd. That’s awesome. Is there one aspect of the story that you relate to most – a favourite character, scene, effect? Can you tell us more about that?

As well as sharing Tiff’s reluctance to take part in physical exercise, I relate to her coming to see that she needn’t let others tell her what she is capable of. A teacher once said I couldn’t be a writer and I believed her, abandoning writing for about ten years. When I had my kids I turned back to the words to keep my brain clocking over and saw that actually I get to decide whether I am a writer or not. Tiff gets to examine her life too and understand that she determines what she can do, not others.

Pernille pic 3Photo by C. Knappe

STS: I’d like to meet that teacher now! What is it that drives you to pursue your creativity, despite that lack of encouragement?

Without wanting to come across as scary, the voices just rattle around in my head and need to come out onto the page. I’ve been making up dialogue since I was little, verbally playing out scenes either in my room, or say, if we were walking on holiday. Additionally I’m conflict shy and so always end up coming away from issues and spending the rest of the day making up what I should have said and wished I’d said. Writing stories is great for getting it out, although it doesn’t make me better at wading into conflicts.

What pushes me to get my writing out there is partially a desire to make others laugh with my words and also to get validation for them (so, I’m ‘giving’ and ‘needy’ at the same time…). Also, as a stay-at-home mum, words and my stories are my marketable commodity.

STS: Many writers have described their processes using analogies – stitching scenes together, following characters on a journey, immersing themselves in a storyline. What can you say about your process?

I visualise my process as sculpting. First I’ll write what I call a Vomit draft, just splurging words onto the page, only writing forwards and chronologically, not going back to correct anything, even if it means writing ‘something about XX, here’. That feels like choosing the material, like clay or stone.

The next draft will be looking at the ugly lump of words and deciding what the form of it is, what the essence of the piece will be and beginning to shape it. Each draft is then shaping the clay/stone until the sculpture is defined and the final draft will be the polishing. I like to have everything rounded off in my stories, ideally no loose ends, so when I’m asked to make edits, I find it really hard. In this analogy it’s like having to add an arm or something to a contained piece and then having firstly to make it look like it was always supposed to be there in the balanced piece and secondly smoothing the edges so no one can see the joins.

My stories start from an idea and then conversations around that idea come into my head. Until now my Vomit drafts have been extremely loosely plotted, after which I’ve found that when starting the first proper draft, I work best if I have a fully plotted plan and know the arcs of my key characters so that the choices they make from the start are true to their needs.

STS: That’s amazing. I love the name Vomit draft! Thank you for that – I’ll feel better throwing out great chunks of draft one now. Finally, what five words would you use to describe yourself as a writer?

Contemporary, Funny (hopefully), Plotter, Un-ambiguous (I’m not a fan of an ambiguous ending), Distraction-prone (ach, Twitter, you are my downfall…)

STS: Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your news with us today, Pernille, and I look for to a HEA future for your writing!

You can Find Pernille at the following links:

Twitter @pernillehughes

Facebook www.facebook.com/pernillehughesauthor

Pinterest www.pinterest.co.uk/pernillehughes

Bookbub; https://www.bookbub.com/profile/pernille-hughes

Pernille’s teeny tiny blog www.writingfromtheedgeofdistraction.blogspot.com

 

Here’s where to buy Sweatpants at Tiffanie’s:

HarperCollins www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008307691/sweatpants-at-tiffanies/

Amazon www.hyperurl.co/sweatpantstiffanie

Itunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/sweatpants-at-tiffanies/id1381181550?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Pernille_Hughes_Sweatpants_at_Tiffanie_s_The_funni?id=jd9SDwAAQBAJ

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/sweatpants-at-tiffanie-s-the-funniest-and-most-feel-good-romantic-comedy-of-2018