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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Crafted - Not Really for Teens
This collection of novellas is beautifully written and the accompanying artwork is stunning to say the least. (I call them novellas because they are technically longer than what is traditionally labeled a short story.) The prose is perfectly paced and expertly constructed. It's obvious a great deal of care and thought was put into the crafting of these stories, which is...
Published on July 14, 2010 by ACP

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tragic as always
I have been a Laini Taylor fan ever since I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Now that I've read Lips Touch, I am a bit more familiar with Taylor's writing style and there are certain elements that are persistent throughout her stories.

Taylor writes heart breaking stories. Sometimes, she'll give you a somewhat happy ending--but never without a healthy dose of...
Published on August 11, 2012 by AboutToRead


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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Crafted - Not Really for Teens, July 14, 2010
By 
ACP (Charlotte, NC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
This collection of novellas is beautifully written and the accompanying artwork is stunning to say the least. (I call them novellas because they are technically longer than what is traditionally labeled a short story.) The prose is perfectly paced and expertly constructed. It's obvious a great deal of care and thought was put into the crafting of these stories, which is evident in the rich imagery, the lush metaphors and the aesthetically woven sentences. The stories were deliberate, engrossing and brilliantly written. Though some might disagree, I found the endings to be thought provoking and fitting - the haunting resonance I'd expect in the modern day literary short story.

That being said, this collection is not really for young girls and teens, unless they are of a an unusually high maturity for their age. There are three stories contained in this collection that are ordered progressively in length, complexity and morbidity. It is important to note that these stories are very dark and unsettling. This is particularly true for the last story, which depicts a rape. The girl and the boy involved are not in control of their own bodies, making them both victims, and they are conscious while the rape is occurring. It is later told that the rape recurs almost daily until the victimized girl is impregnated. This is a rape despite its unusual nature and young people ought to understand that while reading this story. Despite its inherent tragedies toward humanity, which is central to the plot, the last story is undoubtedly the most interesting of the three in that its premise is wildly creative and it delivers a more meaningful punch to the reader. But, in my opinion, it is geared toward adults, not teenagers.

These days, it seems that stories involving young women in supernatural circumstances are automatically given the Young Adult stamp, even when it doesn't necessarily fit. This collection is a case in point. I understand that young people are probably subjected to worse on TV, but I think parents ought to be forewarned and that adults ought to know that these stories are enjoyable works of fiction and not of the cliched teenage-girl-pop variety. So, adults, enjoy without fear!

I will definitely be checking out more works by this author. I can't say it enough. She really is that good.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark & Beautiful, October 24, 2009
By 
Mary Kate (Wisconsin, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
Last spring, I fell in love with Laini Taylor's first novel, Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, and its recently released follow-up, Dreamdark: Silksinger was equally wonderful. I was very excited about Lips Touch for two reasons: 1) I wanted to see what Taylor could do with a slightly different genre aimed at a slightly different age group and 2) I had hopes that a successful YA book would bring new readers to the Dreamdark series.

So, what DID Taylor do with that slightly different genre? She aced it, of course. This woman can write. Period. She is a master storyteller who weaves richly detailed worlds, fully developed characters and carefully crafted plots flawlessly together, creating stories that I'm confident will prove over time to be completely unforgettable. Taylor's writing touches me in ways the writing of other authors - even very gifted authors - has not done for many, many years. [[I'm aware that I sound like a gushing fangirl, but honestly, Taylor's writing is totally gush-worthy, so I'm learning to accept that I AM a fangirl. And, with several grandkids, I really thought I was too old for any title with "girl" in it! Huh.]]

Lips Touch is a trilogy of unrelated stories all of which have to do with a kiss. They are darker and more adult than the Dreamdark books and proved to be just as impossible to put down. The first, Goblin Fruit, is the shortest at only 40 pages, has the most modern feel to it and more amusing moments than the other entries. ("You could have his mouth baby!") The second, Spicy Little Curses Such as These, takes us to hell and back in more ways than one and gives us curses and sacrifice along the way. The last of the three is my favorite, the gorgeously dark Hatchling, an incredibly original tale of love and humanity and souls. It moved me to tears. All three tales have an edge to them and I found the ending of each to be perfect, if not necessarily perfectly happy.

Taylor uses language beautifully, but it all seems to flow without effort. When I'm reading her stories, I never get the feeling that she is trying to hit me over the head with her talent as a wordsmith. Her descriptions, while lush and often lyrical, never cross over into the land of overblown. In my very humble opinion, she is a writer to watch, one that has a brilliant future. I'm thrilled that I've already discovered her and can watch that future unfold.

Do I think Lips Touch will earn Taylor new readers that will, in turn, read her Dreamdark books? I think it will. And I couldn't be happier. They deserve to be widely read.

Finally, I simply have to comment on what a visually beautiful book Lips Touch is. Taylor's husband, Jim Di Bartolo, is a gifted artist whose work is a wonderful addition to his wife's tales. The cover is his, but better yet, he has lavishly illustrated each of the stories within - and with color! (So unusual!) The first two stories have 13 pages of art each, the last 15 pages. I especially appreciate that, because Di Bartolo is Taylor's husband, we can be relatively sure the characters and settings are depicted as she imagines them - something that is not always the case with a book's artwork. The jacket and book design by Christopher Stengel is also lovely. I have something of a love affair with great book covers and design so would enjoy seeing the work here recognized for its excellence.

Highly, highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Tapestry of Fantasy Tales, September 28, 2009
By 
This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES is a short story collection featuring supernatural tales of young love, with each selection focusing on a pivotal kiss with potentially deadly consequences.

The first story, "Goblin Fruit," narrated by wry and darkly funny 16-year-old Kizzy, captures the very essence of teenage longing. Kizzy --- quiet, observant and sarcastic --- is the perpetual outsider. She believes that her life is like no other American teenager's and her family is like no one else's. Her mother wears a peasant scarf around her head, and her father wears bones in a pouch around his neck. There are numerous gypsy aunts and uncles wielding accordions and clinging to the superstitions of the Old Country. In Kizzy's backyard, cars on blocks share the space with anvils, tick-infected goats, peacocks screaming "rape" and melancholic and lonely ghosts.

At school, Kizzy is not one of the popular girls. She is the one watching the pert and popular girls. In fact, it turns out she is just the kind of girl the goblins crave. When strikingly gorgeous Jack appears in Kizzy's life and shows an interest in her, Kizzy must decide whether to heed the warnings she is seemingly receiving from beyond the grave, or follow her heart. Is Jack really who he seems to be?

The second story, "Spicy Little Curses Such as These," tells of two English women --- one old, one young --- living in India in the days of the British Raj. Their lives intersect tragically at the behest of a demon. Estella has been pressed into service as the human ambassador to Hell, where she must bargain daily with the demon Vasudev to save the lives of the young and innocent. After 40 years of serving as the ambassador, Estella slips up and makes a trade with Vasudev that she will regret for the rest of her days --- the lives of 22 children in exchange for a curse that she must place on a newborn girl, Anamique.

Estella is required to curse Anamique with a bewitching voice that will kill all those who hear her, but she is also able to compel the girl not to talk. Anamique thus grows up in utter silence, never speaking or singing, until a kiss from a dashing stranger on her 18th birthday gives her a reason to finally test her voice. Is Anamique truly cursed, or can she find happiness with her handsome suitor?

The third and final story, "Hatchling," is also the longest and --- at novella length --- complex and layered enough that it just as easily might have been shaped into a full-length novel. Esme wakes up one morning shortly before her 14th birthday to find that one of her eyes has turned from brown to icy blue overnight. The blue eye seems to belong not to her, but to a different person with other memories: memories of thrones, castles with bridges and spires, and sharing soul-searing kisses (although Esme herself has never been kissed).

When Esme's mother Mab discovers her blue eye, Esme's quiet (indeed, too quiet) life erupts in chaos. Mab tells her that they are being stalked by the Druj, immortal demon-shifters who turn into wolves each night. Mab once drew the wrath of the powerful and pitiless Druj Queen, and now, after all their years of hiding, she and her daughter have been found. As Mab and Esme seek to escape the long reach of the Druj, one of the enemies unexpectedly reaches out a hand to help them. But can Esme and Mab really trust the Druj demon Mihai? Why does Esme remember sharing a kiss with him?

These three stories together form a compelling tapestry of fantasy tales, ranging from the wry and jocular (although still scary) "Goblin Fruit," to the more grim "Spicy Little Kisses" and the fairy tale-like adventure dreamscape of "Hatchling." Each draws inspiration from widely diverging sources: "Goblin Fruit" from Christina Rossetti's haunting and enigmatic poem, "Goblin Market"; "Spicy Little Kisses" from the days of the British Raj and aspects of Hindu mythology; and "Hatchling" from the Zorastrian religion and the legend of the Druj.

Laini Taylor has a knack for crafting vivid and beautiful sentences that succinctly capture the essence of people, places and things. She describes vividly the longing of a teenage girl in the rush of first love and lust, competently and believably recreates the days of the British Raj, and uses Parsi mythology and culture as the basis from which to create both her own rendition of Druj demons and (most impressively) their speech in the rare language Avestan.

No review of LIPS TOUCH would be complete without a mention of the haunting and lovely illustrations of artist Jim Di Bartolo, who is married to Taylor. Several pen and ink drawings scattered throughout are a perfect fit for the text, giving the book the feel of a fairy tale collection and graphic novel rolled into one.

I am now looking forward to reading Taylor's other works.

--- Reviewed by Usha Reynolds
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tragic as always, August 11, 2012
I have been a Laini Taylor fan ever since I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Now that I've read Lips Touch, I am a bit more familiar with Taylor's writing style and there are certain elements that are persistent throughout her stories.

Taylor writes heart breaking stories. Sometimes, she'll give you a somewhat happy ending--but never without a healthy dose of misery. While I do like to read happy stories, Taylor makes me care more about her characters than I normally would because their lives are so tragic.

As with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, you have to read each of the stories to the very end to appreciate the art that Taylor creates. Her story lines are always complicated (due in part to the world building she has in every story), and she does not explain everything to you up front. Rather, she lets the story slowly unfold and then dumps all of the good stuff on top of you at once.

The 2nd story was hands-down my favorite part of Lips Touch. The world building wasn't quite as complicated as the 3rd story, and the plot was much more involved than the 1st story. The 1st story was too short for anything to really happen and as a result, it was much harder to connect to the characters. The 2nd and 3rd stories, however, are much more involved and I was able to develop more of an attachment to the characters. While Lips Touch isn't quite as magical as Daughter of Smoke and Bone, fans of Laini Taylor's work will not be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sinful Delectable Read by Laini Taylor!, June 19, 2010
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This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor was an unexpected and pleasant read. This book is broken up into three short stories, which all center around a kiss that changes the course of events for the main protagonist.

Usually this type of genre, which I'd categorize as dark, gothic romance, is not my cup of tea (though it is growing on me!). What drew me to this book was the stunning art created by Laini's husband Jim Di Bartolo. It's breathtakingly gorgeous. What fascinated me about the illustrations is that they portray the back story within the respective short story . In addition to the illustrations, the layout of the book itself is lovely and is artistically appealing. The first letter of each short story is enlarged and bolded in red with a small design around it, just like a medieval transcript. The numbers of the pages are also in red. The background of the afterword is unique with a simplistic, yet lovely design. Since I am a visual person, the artwork added to the experience of reading each story.

Now, onto the stories themselves!

Now some reviewers on GoodReads saw the stories as simplistic and uninteresting, but I thought quite the opposite. I admit that the first story is more simplistic than the other two. In fact, one could say that the stories progressively become more complex. They're short stories, however. This isn't meant to be Tolstoy or Hemingway. It isn't a novel.

I thought that Laini Taylor did a fantastic job with word usage and description to develop the atmosphere of each story as well as plot. I think that the stories themselves are sinfully delectable and I enjoyed each one! The worlds are unique and each heroine stands on her own. I loved how the author took liberties of integrating different religious/mythical beliefs from all parts of the world and history (Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, etc.). These were fun, fast, and highly delightful reads (even though the reads themselves are not light-hearted but rather dark). It is bittersweet that there is only three tales total. It is one of those books that when I finished, I wish there was still one more story to read.

I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to see if Laini Taylor will publish another one!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and original--highly recommended, May 3, 2010
By 
This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
I would say I've read a lot of YA fantasy, but this one felt completely fresh and new. Laini Taylor draws on the myths and legends of various cultures to create three short stories/novellas, putting the borrowed elements together to produce something that's entirely her own. I love the way she describes herself in the author's note: "Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more." In Lips Touch: Three Times, these elements come together in a thoroughly satisfying way.

In the first story, we encounter goblins who steal the souls of teenaged girls--not the pretty, popular girls, but the girls who want to be pretty and popular, who want so hard that their souls hang out. Girls like Kizzy.

The second story, set in India, deals with a woman who negotiates with a demon in hell. She barters for the souls of children, but has to make some difficult concessions and then face the consequences. I really liked the setting of this one, and the story itself made me cry at one point.

I'm not even sure how to describe the final story without giving away key plot elements, but it was the longest and probably also my favourite. It involves a race of immortal, soulless creatures who live in the cold mountains around Russia and whose queen raises a mortal child as a pet. The story starts with a human viewpoint, but ultimately shifts to the perspective of the Druj, so that we come to see them as more than just the evil enemy.

I've tried to keep my descriptions of the stories as brief as possible, because the gradual unfolding of new and surprising plot elements is one of the things I enjoyed most about the book. This means, though, that I can't in any way do justice to the stories. The main point that I want to stress is the novelty of them: it was nice to have two of the stories based in Eastern lore for a change, and even that was just a springboard for Taylor's creativity. After reading a lot of books about, say, typical faeries, I really enjoyed being immersed in a whole new mythology.

The book itself is also very well put-together, with some very nice illustrations. I had borrowed this one from the library, but I went out today and purchased my own copy. I'll be seeking out other books by this author as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous Loves and Dark Spells and Curses., April 14, 2010
By 
April (L.A., CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
Here are three separate stories linked by themes of love (dangerous and strong) and magic (also dangerous and strong) create major turning-points in the lives of the characters (for good and ill), and by a series of enchanting illustrations that are like a mini graphic novel at the beginning of each tale.

"Goblin Fruit" is about temptation and desire. Kizzy is from a bizarre family, so she tries to be as normal as possible at school, but wants so much more. Her family from the old country would know that she is exactly the kind of girl that goblins would seek out in order to steal her soul away. Kizzy would know if she paid attention to her grandmother's story, if she even believed that goblins were possible...

"Spicy Little Curses" is set earlier in the 20thC in a British enclave in India where an Englishwoman is Ambassador to the Hell ruled by Yama and tussles for lives and souls with the demon Vasudev. In return for twenty lives she agrees to curse one: Anamique, the daughter of the British Political Agent. She is forbidden to speak, ever, for her beautiful voice will kill all who hear it. Of course the demon wants death and souls and works hard to make her believe that the curse is nonsense...

"Hatchling" starts with a mother fleeing the cruel, soulless beings who kept her captive, trying to protect Esme, her fourteen year old daughter from a similar fate.

Love and beautiful boys tempt them all. Is it worth the risk? You'll see.

I starting reading this after falling in love with quite a different book ("Beautiful Creatures") so I had a bit of a hard time getting into it, despite the fantastic writing and the quick pacing... and the beautiful tempting boys (what's wrong with that?). But the author is good at weaving spells (and curses), and I eventually fell under it. I particularly like the last story. They are all different, but all very full of strange magic, like a dark Grimm's tale. The whole book, with it's illustrations and design, is a wonderful artifact in itself. Definitely worth a look!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous stories, gorgeous illustrations, gorgeous writing, April 12, 2010
This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
I am familiar with YA literature enough to know how horribly, horribly wrong a collection of short stories about kissing can go (see, for example, The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire). Let me tell you, "Lips Touch" is not that kind of book. This book is simply magical.

Laini Taylor grabs your attention with the first lines:

There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave. You could walk across a high school campus and point them out: not her, not her, her. The pert, lovely ones with butterfly tattoos in secret places, sitting on their boyfriends' laps? No, not them. The girls watching the lovely ones sitting on their boyfriends' laps? Yes.

Them.

The goblins want girls who dream so hard about being pretty their yearning leaves a palpable trail, a scent goblin can follow like sharks on a soft bloom of blood. The girls with hungry eyes who pray each night to wake up as someone else. Urgent, unkissed, wishful girls.

Like Kizzy.

How can you possibly resist this gorgeous writing? I know I couldn't.

The book consists of 3 stories, or rather, fairy tales based on Irish, Hindu, and Zoroastrian folklore. Each tale is about a kiss, the kind of kiss that changes lives, turns the world upside down, a kiss that can kill or bring you back to life.

The writing is superb, the descriptions are gorgeous and the mythologies Laini creates are unique and enchanting. There is passion and love and tenderness in these stories. I remember shivering and smiling at the end of each one.

The book is also beautifully illustrated. The fairy tales are preceded by short graphic stories which do not reveal the content on the tales themselves, but serve as sort of pre-stories whose details are revealed in the main tales.

My only complaint about "Lips Touch" is that there isn't more, otherwise the fairy tales are irresistible and delicious as the kisses they are about. This book is definitely one of the best I've read this year so far.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kissing with a Bang!, January 20, 2010
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This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
Or for the love of holy Hannah do I hope this husband and wife continue to team up on books! I recently posted about Silksinger, and this is a book by the same duo. There is a major difference though: this is a collection of three short stories about kissing (hence, the title!). Before you go, ewww or YAAAYYY, let me tell you, these are some fascinating accounts of first kisses.

Illustrations appear at the beginning of each story and I had a hard time turning the page to look at the next one. Then I would go back at various places in the story to see what I missed on my first perusal. You will miss something! They are all done in shades of black and red and are just impeccable.

The first story is titled, "Goblin Fruit." Taylor pays homage to the originator of the tale, Christina Rossetti, in her modernized re-telling of the story. Kizzy is a modern girl living with a family who remind me a lot of the Roma (and that is probably inaccurate, but it's my personal identification and that's all that matters. Yours can be different!) Others find her family strange or weird, and Kizzy has a hard time with her outsider status and accepting her family for who they are. That being said, she also heeds their traditions and understands the things she is doing. The only question that remains to be answered for you is, `what did she decide?"

The second story, "Spicy Little Curses Such as These," was fascinating to me. A mortal woman is put in charge of bartering with a demon, Vasudev, who lives in Hell. They barter for the souls of the seemingly innocent (mainly children). So many innocents are to be saved and she and her friend and helper, Pranjivan, give names of the evil (or very bad people) to Vasudev to exchange. When we meet Estelle, she is bartering for the lives of 22 children killed in an earthquake. Vasudev has a nasty streak and he likes to spice things up with curses, but Estelle has to agree. Vasudev puts Estelle into an impossible situation, which she survives by placing a curse on an innocent baby. Did Estelle do the right thing? Will Vasudev win? (By win, I mean the curse coming true. And it's a doozy!)

Last, but definitely not least, is, "Hatchling." I finished it on my lunch break and all I can say is, "Love!" You have to read it.

Notes on the Cover:
Ohhh! I think I know who she is! The ice blue eyes, the dark hair, the luscious red lips...and no, I am not telling! I love the face, I love the title, I love the flames, Love, Love, Love!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, June 2, 2010
This review is from: Lips Touch: Three Times (Hardcover)
Gold Star Award Winner!

Do you remember your first kiss?

Three supernatural tales of first love (or lust) and that first kiss that can change you or overpower you. In "Goblin Fruit" goblins prey on young girls - and not the pretty popular ones - the ones that want to be them. In "Spicy Little Curses" a young woman is cursed with a voice that will kill anyone who is nearby to hear it. Can she risk telling her love the one thing he wants to hear? In "Hatchling" a young girl finds her fate intertwined with demons and secrets kept by her mother.

Dark, dangerous, and delicious! This collection is an amazing work of fiction - and it's addicting. You won't want to put this one down! I don't always enjoy short stories, but this collection blew me away.

Each story is wonderfully written and the characters are well-developed. I was transported to each new world and it's hard for me to pick which one I enjoyed the best - they were all fantastic. The artwork by Jim Di Bartolo is gorgeous - I would love to have prints of these pictures framed. (And the red dress in the first picture for "Spicy Little Curses" - I want that dress!)

Even if you typically shy away from fantasy or paranormal romances, give this one a try. It's compulsively readable and the fantasy elements are weaved in to the stories in such a way that you won't even realize you're reading fantasy. (And I mean that in a good way.) These are stunning stories that will stick with you long after you finish reading.

Laini Taylor is an author to watch for. I will be picking up her DREAMDARK series after reading LIPS TOUCH. I need more of her storytelling.

Reviewed by: Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen
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Lips Touch: Three Times
Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor (Hardcover - October 1, 2009)
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