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Posts tagged ‘Probably the Best Kiss in the World’

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.