Monday, November 9, 2009

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

Lips Touch: Three Times
Laini Taylor; illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009

Among the surprises in the Young People’s category at the nominations for the National Book Award was Lips Touch by Laini Taylor. While what makes the NBA lists is generally a surprising mix of books, at least the other books on the list were ones I had read about previously. Additionally surprising, this is a collection of 3 stories, not a single novel. I had not read Laini Taylor’s Blackbringer, but I had heard great things about this fantasy writer. I was very intrigued.

Lips Touch, as you might guess, is a rather sexy collection of stories. Kudos to the NBA committee for that. The book jacket of my ARC copy says “three stories about the deliciousness of wanting and waiting”. There’s truth in that advertising. Deliciousness is a very appropriate choice of words. These stories are rich. The sad thing with the ARC is the lack of (Mr. Laini Taylor) Jim De Bartolo’s illustrations. It did contain several pages of illustration for the first story, but none for the rest.

The first story is the shortest at about 40 pages. The next is about 20 pages longer and the last encompasses about ½ the book. Preceding each story is a 1 page teaser. It’s the author, a storyteller, talking to us, setting the stage. I thought it a great addition.

After a little bit of thought, the first story “Goblin Fruit” stands out as my favorite. It is short, the teen girl dialogue is razor sharp (and hilarious) and the ending extremely satisfying if also a little shocking. After that, I knew these were going to be my kind of stories.

“Spicy Little Curses Such as These” (fantastic title) sets itself in India. I went out for Indian food this weekend, not exactly by coincidence. The story contains a character referred to as the Old Bitch who is the Ambassador to Hell. Add that to the list of things that make me like this book. While I enjoyed this story very much, I found it not as lasting on my mind as the first and third.

“Hatchling” is an epic of a story. The author flips chapters between different stories until they finally intersect. There are shape-shifters (mostly person-wolf so add this to your fangs vs. fur booklist), horrific monsters, demons, eye-plucking, a Queen who keeps little girls as pets, a mysterious benefactor, a mother with secrets, and the 14 year old girl who links it all together. This could have been a novel, but I am glad she pared down to the essentials to keep it a story.

The second and especially the third stories are about children. I can’t help but wonder at the influence of the birth of the author’s own child in the creation of these stories. The 3rd story pulled exceptionally strong at my own experiences as a mother. When I first started reading “Hatchling”, I did think about how teens might connect with such a strongly maternal story. In the end, though, it is such a strong fantasy story about love (loving, being loved) that I feel that’s more my personal projection on to the reading.

A highly recommended collection for short story & fantasy readers. And, because it is so sensual, give it to your romance readers.

Check out the Laini’s blog. If you like babies, it’s full-o-baby cuteness!

Source: ARC sent by publisher to a coworker


Patti said...

Love, love, loved this.

joanna said...

Yeah, it's good stuff. I'm so glad you liked it!