Little Willow: Welcome to the roundtable discussion of Lips Touch by Laini Taylor, which was our featured book for October. Many thanks to all of the roundtable participants. Today, I'm joined by readergirlz divas Lorie Ann Grover and Melissa Walker as well as Enna Isilee from the blog Squeaky Books.
Lorie Ann Grover: Oh, it's a delight to host Laini and discuss Lips Touch! Almost as fun as her funky Laini's Ladies. Have you seen them? Mine hangs in my kitchen! But okay, let's get to her collection of stories!
Little Willow: Lips Touch is a collection of three stories: Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses, and Hatchling. What was your favorite scene or character from Goblin Fruit?
Melissa Walker: I loved the description of Kizzy when she was introduced, and the reasons why the goblins wanted her and knew she was easy prey. I was instantly mesmerized.
Lorie Ann Grover: I loved her grandmother, trying to warn her! Listen, Kizzy!
Little Willow: I wanted to warn Kizzy as well. I thought this story was a great way to kick off this collection, and I liked the fact that each story took place in a different time and location. Goblin Fruit took place in current times. If this story had been set in Victorian times instead, how would it have been different? What might have stayed the same?
Melissa Walker: I thought the story was pretty timeless. I loved that it was set now, because it has an ancient feel to it but seemed perfectly modern, too. It was a nice combination.
Lorie Ann Grover: I think the modern setting made it so accessible. It acted as the bridge to this intriguing, mysterious fairy tale. Maybe it would have been a tad longer bridge if it had been set in the 1800s.
Little Willow: Are you impulsive? Do you often - or ever - give into temptation?
Enna Isilee: I used to be. Before I had a job I would fritter away every meager penny that I earned. Now that I have a steady income I'm actually more careful with my money (I have to be). I've never been impulsive with love. I'm very square. I don't think I've ever had a lustful thought. Always the good girl.
Little Willow: There's not an impulsive bone in my body. I'm extremely cautious, and I tend to overthink things. No matter what, whether it's a decision that has to be made in an instant or something I have more time to consider, I trust my gut. If my gut tells me not to do something, I don't do it. Period.
Melissa Walker: I was very, very good in high school, but I broke out of that mold in college and acted impulsively on too many occasions. I learned a lot from giving in to temptation, and I'm glad I learned it young.
Lorie Ann Grover: Are we talking chocolate here? Because I cave for chocolate. :~)
Little Willow: Lorie Ann, here's a healthy granola-and-chocolate bar for you. What's the difference between being tempted by something and wanting something? Where or how do they overlap?
Lorie Ann Grover: I think a desire can be honest, good, and right. While the word "temptation" lets you know that the desire is likely unhealthy, not to your ultimate benefit or another's.
Little Willow: Are any of you superstitious?
Lorie Ann Grover: Not a lick.
Enna Isilee: I'm EXTREMELY superstitious. Mostly when it comes to numbers. I hate the number 3, love the numbers 7 and 2. I always stop the microwave at 4 seconds, so that it never gets to 3. As for curses... I certainly believe in mental curses. If someone tells me I'm going to have a bad day, I probably will because I believe it. Then again... maybe that's how magic works. ;)
Little Willow: Maybe so, Enna! I love numbers, and though I have my favorites, I don't have any I utterly dislike and won't use. Does anyone here believe in curses?
Lorie Ann Grover: Nope.
Melissa Walker: I don't believe in curses, but I do believe in positive good luck... I've never thought about that before, how one-sided my superstitions are!
Little Willow: I believe in sending people good luck and good thoughts, too, Melissa. The power of positive thinking! What was your favorite scene or character in Spicy Little Curses?
Enna Isilee: Estella. I just felt for her so much, and admired her for her life's work. I can't think of a harder job than the one she had.
Lorie Ann Grover: Here, here, Enna.
Little Willow: Are any of you singers? I am. In fact, as I type this, I'm warming up for a performance I have tonight!
Enna Isilee: I wish I was. However, my courage when it comes to singing is nonexistent. I keep it in the car. *sigh*
Lorie Ann Grover: There's actually a joint in the vocal chords, so rheumatoid arthritis doesn't permit me to sing anymore. That is sad.
Little Willow: I'm so sorry, Lorie Ann. Words fail to capture how sorry I am.
Melissa Walker: I'm with Enna. I sing a lot, when I'm alone. Also, Koreatown karaoke is always good for a Saturday night, but I won't be auditioning for a musical reality show any time soon.
Little Willow: Think of something you are passionate about doing - singing, writing, crocheting, playing soccer - and consider whether or not you would be able to give up something you loved doing if merely doing that would kill people, as her voice would in this story. I would be hard-pressed to give up anything I love doing, such as acting and singing, so if I were cursed with that curse, I would be an utter mess.
Enna Isilee: For me that would be reading. Could I give it up? Well, I would try. But I would probably slip. Just like she did in Spicy Little Curses, I'd forget myself, or stop believing in it, or go ABSOLUTELY INSANE. So as long as my will held out, I would resist. After all, I do hate killing people.
Lorie Ann Grover: Great last line, Enna! I would give it up and secretly find a new passion...
Little Willow: What was your favorite character in the third story, Hatchling?
Lorie Ann Grover: We have to cheer for Esme, right?
Little Willow: Right. Do you like shapeshifter stories or myths?
Enna Isilee: I do enjoy them when done well. For example, I LOVE Cremer's Nightshade because it was very detailed in the different aspects that went into shifting from wolf to human. Or the Animorphs series I read as a child, which described the terrible bone-crunching sounds of changing shape. When shapeshifters can just magically shift back and forth with no consequences then I get a little skeptic. But the good authors can pull even that off.
Little Willow: I highly recommend the Prowlers novels by Christopher Golden, which we've named recommended reads this month at readergirlz. Prowlers is an action-packed four-book series about a young man named Jack who has to face the shapeshifters who killed his best friend, Artie. The books are engrossing page-turners and have everything you could ever want in an empowering modern-day supernatural series: good guys, bad guys, action, romance, twists, turns, the works! Come to think of it, if you like the TV show that's called Supernatural, then you'll love Prowlers, too. Maybe if I can convince you all to read the books, we could have a roundtable discussion of that series.
Lorie Ann Grover: I love the shapeshifter archetype, the character you believe is one person and then discover he is completely different. There's such a rush in the "Luke, I am your father!" moment.
Little Willow: Agreed. I really like well-told supernatural stories and myths.
Enna Isilee: I have ALWAYS loved myths, and so I was familiar with those already, but I always love learning new ones. I wasn't familiar with any of the Lips Touch stories...and you know, before the slew of supernatural stories that have recently come out I would have said yes, but now that there are so many to choose from, I actually have some ability to be picky. I do like the majority of the supernatural stories that I read, like Lips Touch. However, I've run into many that I would now consider sub par.
Lorie Ann Grover: These stories were all new to me - and fresh! Supernatural stories are not what I reach for first. Laini's language though was so delectable I was caught eating her goblin fruit whole.
Little Willow: How do you feel about short stories in general? Do you like them? Do you seek them out?
Enna Isilee: I have a very short attention span. Because of this, you'd think anthologies would be perfect for me, but it's actually the opposite. Getting into an entirely new story is HARD for me! If I finish a story, I have a hard time re-tuning my brain to a new plot. That's why I actually prefer novels to anthologies. I think that's also why I preferred the longer stories in Lips Touch to "Goblin Fruit."
Lorie Ann Grover: I do prefer a novel. I want the relationship to continue for a long journey.
Little Willow: I must praise the book's beautiful illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo. In the pages proceeding each story, full-page illustrations tell the story wordlessly before you turn to the actual text, then one final illustration appears as the end of each tale. Do you feel as though the drawings aided the storytelling, or did they spoil things for you?
Lorie Ann Grover: No, it didn't spoil it at all. The design was amazing. I think every time I flipped back to reread Jim's illustrations when I concluded the stories. The palette completely suited the atmosphere of the collection.
Little Willow: Jim chose to employ certain colors - mostly black with shades of rich, rosy reds and deep pinks - and I thought this palette, especially with his style, was quite striking. My favorite illustration appeared in Hatchling, when the younger version of Mab is surrounded by fairies.
Enna Isilee: I love the picture of young Estella kneeling in front of the gravestone at the beginning of Spicy Little Curses. I was instantly invested in the story when I saw that picture. My heart just went out to her.
Little Willow: Which illustration was your favorite, Lorie Ann?
Lorie Ann Grover: Oh, I don't know! I'd have to go compare them all. Would I even be able to choose just one? Nope.
Enna Isilee: Did anyone have a favorite out of the three stories? I'd have to say mine was Spicy Little Curses because I love how the demon's curse came around to bite him! Karma!
Little Willow: Karma is a boomerang: you get back what you give out.
Lorie Ann Grover: Goblin Fruit hangs with me most vividly. *shivers*
Little Willow: When we asked Laini to tell us her favorite place to write, she informed us that the café where she wrote her newest book had closed its doors that very day without warning. Where do you go to write, or to be alone?
Enna Isilee: I have a room. It's a beautiful room with no TV, a piano, a HUGE bay-window, and a green armchair with matching footrest. That's MY room. I love it.
Lorie Ann Grover: I'm more like a cat. The favorite place moves about the house as time passes. Right now, I'm loving the sun patch that falls right onto my black leather couch.
Little Willow: Three cheers (rather, meows, purrhaps!) for your cat-like ways, Lorie Ann! All right - our time is up, and we've got to wrap up this roundtable. Any closing thoughts?
Lorie Ann Grover: Laini is a jewel, and we are honored to hold her words, think of them, learn from them, and host her at readergirlz. Here's to our friendship, her family, and the next work from her hands. xox
Read the October 2010 issue of readergirlz.
Watch and listen to Laini reading part of Lips Touch at the National Book Awards at the New School.