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Another Laini Taylor book! The lovely thing about discovering a not-so-new writer is that they already have a trail of stories behind them. I chose Lips Touch Three Times over Laini’s Dream Dark Fairy series because the title guarantees kissing, which there wasn’t nearly enough of in Daughter of Smoke and Bone – this is good  because the lovey thing is unbearable when it’s overdone (ahem, Twilight). Love, kisses, lust – it should always leave you wanting more. That said, I couldn’t resist the combo of goblins, kisses and the incredible art work throughout Lips Touch.

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

I rarely read short story collections anymore so this was a nice treat. Lips Touch is three stories of varying lengths. The first is very short and the last one more like a novella. Some of the themes lightly touched on in this book are ones Taylor really commits to in Daughter.

Goblin Fruit

This is a fun little story about a teen named Kizzy with a rather unique family that lives by the superstitions of the ‘old country’. Among these are burying the dead with a swan wing, coins and a weapon. Kizzy wants the beauty and attention from boys that other girls at school have. She wants it so bad she can’t see her own unique beauty. This wanting catches the eye of a goblin, as it often does, and Kizzy should know this better than anyone. She grew up hearing the stories of how goblins lure souls away. She has all she needs to defend herself, but her desire to feel wanted may be greater.

I adore this story so much I read it twice then forced it upon others. It reads so easy, which is the hardest thing to do, and her character development is spot on. Taylor is extremely skilled at bringing out the darker side of odd and beautiful things without sending them to the quirky zone.

Spicy Little Curses Such as These

Estella, aka The Old Bitch, first descended into Hell when her husband was taken from her. Once there she was given the job of working with a demon to maintain balance, but this demon is greedy and wants all the souls he can have. Estella spends her life in Jaipur negotiating to save as many souls as she can, casting the demon’s curses in exchange. The curses are exceedingly creative and cruel. The story is centered around the victim of his most ambitious curse yet.

This is my favorite story of the three. Definitely seems influenced by Rabindranath Tagore not because it’s set in India, but because she incorporates supernatural elements like spells and demons as a fact of life that not everyone is aware of. At the same time, it’s a love story that’ll make you glance at your partner and wonder.

Hatchling

Esme and her mother live a life filled with art and beauty in their London flat, but as Esme gets older she begins to realize their lives are far from normal. They speak to no one, have no friends, and don’t go to the doctor. Plus her mother is plagued by terrible nightmares. When Esme wakes up one day to find that one of her brown eyes has turned an ancient crystal blue, her mother loses it. Not knowing why or where they’re going, they flee the city and head to France. When her mother finally opes up about her past, the story departs into a world of old magic where humans are kept as pets and then something much worse.

I liked this one, but like it the least. While the same structure works in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, it took me out of the story here. I could follow it, but struggled to stay interested. By the end, the beginning struck me as irrelevant. If I hadn’t already invested energy in the mother and Esme, I would have been really excited by the originality of the deeper story.

Lips Touch was a National Book Award finalist for 2009, and I can see why. Check out some of illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo (her hubby), and then do yourself a favor and surrender to these tales.

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