Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

I’m usually not a fan of short stories. I don’t know why but I never get to finish the anthologies that I buy. Since I wanted to give Laini Taylor’s writing a try, I decided to pick up Lips Touch: Three Times. I was also curious because I’ve heard such good things about this book from both Holly of Book Harbinger and Kristen of Fantasy Cafe and I know they have excellent taste when it comes to fantasy books.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

A girl who’s always been in the shadows finds herself pursued by the unbelievably attractive new boy at school, who may or may not be the death of her. Another girl grows up mute because of a curse placed on her by a vindictive spirit, and later must decide whether to utter her first words to the boy she loves and risk killing everyone who hears her if the curse is real. And a third girl discovers that the real reason for her transient life with her mother has to do with belonging — literally belonging — to another world entirely, full of dreaded creatures who can transform into animals, and whose queen keeps little girls as personal pets until they grow to childbearing age.

Lips Touch contains three short stories – Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses Such as These and Hatchling – set in different worlds. The common theme in these stories is that they’re all about kisses. Each story has its own set of lovely artwork done by Jim di Bartolo. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now so I sneaked in some reading time in the bookstore and by the time I finished reading the first two stories, I decided that I’d love to own a copy. I was planning to wait for the paperback to be released because it would be cheaper but was worried that it wouldn’t include the artwork so I went ahead and got the hardcover instead. I’m not regretting the decision because I ended up loving it. Laini Taylor’s writing is lush and lyrical, exactly what I look for in my fantasy reads and her husband’s illustrations are the perfect enhancement to these stories.

To keep this review concise, I’m not going to comment on each story but instead share what I think about the book as a whole. I’m a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed reading these stories because the writing is a bit darker and grittier than my usual favorites. The more disturbing aspects of the stories were balanced out by the positive things like love and hope so I never had a problem with them. Also, I’m usually not a fan of YA urban fantasy but these stories had a fairy tale feel to them than I don’t even know if I can classify them as such. It was easy to fall into the atmospheric writing. I’m amazed at how much the author was able to accomplish in terms of worldbuilding considering that these are short stories with limited word count and not full-length novels. I felt like they were just the right length and didn’t feel that they were rushed. My favorite out of the three is Hatchling and I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more about that world. I hear that she’s planning to come out with a book with the same setting, can’t wait to read that. In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to track down the rest of Laini Taylor’s books because Lips Touch left me hungry for more of her writing. Lips Touch is a lovely book that I highly recommend to all fantasy fans out there. It certainly deserves to get more attention.

Since I included a sample of the illustrations found inside the book, I thought it would be fitting to quote the author as well. This is a non-spoilery tidbit from Goblin Fruit:

Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy’s blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn’t possibly keep, and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer’s small airplane, champagne-christened Kizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels, and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads.

Kizzy wanted.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Fantasy Cafe
Steph Su Reads
Presenting Lenore

28 thoughts on “Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

  1. Great review! I liked this one too, and the illustrations perfectly set the mood of the book. Hope more readers will discover it with the paperback release. I would imagine they will keep the illustrations in there, but it was a good call to pick up the hardcover just in case. Looking forward to reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone by this author.

    • The illustrations were lovely, right? I think the illustrations are still included in the paperback but I still don’t regret my decision since I like the cover design on the hardcover much better than the paperback. Me too, really looking forward to reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone!

  2. I am not usually a short story fan either, but I definitely want to pick this up too! Like you, I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Also, I recently read Daughter of Smoke & Bone and LOVED IT. One of those “I-must-read-everything-this-author-has-ever-written” kinda books.

    • I think it helped that this book only had three short stories in it and they were written by the same author. I have a hard time finishing anthologies with multiple authors. Wow, I’m jealous that you’ve read Daughter of Smoke and Bone already! I feel that way about the author now that I’ve read this book – I want to read her back list.

  3. Ooh, I forgot how much I like the illustrations. It really is too bad that they didn’t use one of them for the cover of the paperback. I guess they’re trying to appeal to the fans of YA paranormal romance. The lips cover is really trendy right now. I think I might do a post on it.

    The worldbuilding is excellent, especially for the short story format. I’m SO glad you liked it overall as much as you did. After reading Lips Touch I’ve always meant to read her Blackbringer series. I know Kristen really liked it. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it, of course. Anyway, thanks for the great review!

    • I figured it would be a good idea to post pictures, it would entice more readers to pick up the book. 🙂 I know, the paperback cover design really looks like it’s a YA paranormal romance. Sigh, I guess that’s okay as long as the illustrations are still included.

      I want to read the Blackbringer books too, I’ve seen them in local bookstores so I know that they’re available here. LOL but like you, I have no idea when I’ll get around to reading them.

  4. This looks like such a pretty book. Those illustrations are pretty. 🙂 I’m starting to appreciate books with illustrations now, especially after reading A MONSTER CALLS. I’m going to have to put this one on my radar now. 😛

    • Both the illustrations and the stories are beautiful so yes, it really is a pretty book. 🙂 I love illustrations but the books that I read rarely have them. Hope you get to read this one, Tina! If you’re thinking of getting it, the copies in Fully Booked (around 700) are much cheaper than the ones in Powerbooks (around 900).

    • Lucky you, you have an ARC of Daughter of Smoke and Bone! I can’t wait to read that, I have a feeling it’s going to be just as good as this one. 🙂

  5. Lovely review! I ordered this book from my library yesterday since I’m curious to read Laini Taylor’s older works—I was lucky enough to snag a copy of her latest novel from BEA and I’m currently in LOVE with it–her atmospheric writing is incredible<3

    • Oooh congrats on getting Laini Taylor’s latest from BEA! I’ve been hearing such good things about it. Maybe the writing for that and this one is similar? I guess I just have to wait and see until I get my grubby little hands on Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

  6. So glad you loved this one, too! There are books that are good and then there are some that are just really special. I thought this was one of these really special, amazing books (and Daughter of Smoke and Bone too).

    I did really like the Dreamdark books as well, but they are very different from the other two. They’re for a younger audience, and while that doesn’t mean they cannot be enjoyable as an adult, that does mean they’re tamer. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the first one early into it, but I ended up really liking it, and I loved the second one. But I loved Lips Touch and Daughter of Smoke and Bone even more!

    • I think I brought up Laini Taylor’s writing in one of our Twitter conversations. It’s so easy to fall into one of her stories because her writing is just lovely. I don’t think anyone writes the way she does.

      Thanks for the heads up about the Dreamdark books! I’ve been trying to decide if I should get them but now that you mentioned that they’re for a younger audience, I might have to wait a bit. Maybe when I can get them on sale. I’m definitely going to get Daughter of Smoke and Bone when it comes out though!

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