JanesGuide Book Reviews:

The first couple of reviews here are for two very different books on the subject of cunnilingus, so if you're looking for that subject read through both. Further on down the page, look for an overview of the new how-to on sex toys by Anne Semans, and a bit of steamy fiction in a new anthology set in exotic places, by Mitzi Szerto.

she comes first She Comes First (the thinking man's guide to pleasuring a woman - Ian Kerner, Ph.D.

This book first came to my attention when I saw it mentioned on a friend's weblog. I don't know how I missed it when it's apparently been mentioned on shows like LoveLine and Oprah's Oxygen Network, and in the likes of Playgirl, but miss it I did. Ian Kerner has a doctorate in clinical sexology, though this book has plenty of personal anecdotes and experience to go along with book knowledge.

It's a well written book, with as many references to writing technique and literature as to sex. Although I enjoyed his writing style, it seemed every other sentence was a quote by someone else. Kerner suggests reading through the entire book, no matter how tempted you may be to skip directly to technique, and it is an interesting read with plenty of opinion as well as sexual research on female sexuality historically and today. One thing I did notice and found slightly irksome was Kerner's almost outright dismissal of penile/vaginal intercourse as an important part of one's sexual repertoire. As a woman who thoroughly enjoys both, I hate to see one OR the other presented as One True Way of male/female sexual relations. Oh, and in case you have not gathered from what I've said so far, yes this book is definitely written from the standpoint of heterosexual sexuality, although that certainly doesn't invalidate the information no matter your own orientation.

Moving on to the techniques section, you'll find an incredible attention to detail, as Kerner waxes poetic on the beauty of female anatomy and sexuality. He really does guide the reader through a step-by-step of sexual technique down to the last lick, stroke or swirl. He also suggests having a game plan ahead of time, and offers work sheets in the back of the book for exactly that. I had mixed feelings, because it does seem to me at some point you need to get a bit OUT of your head when it comes to letting go, and on the receiving end I'd rather have a partner thoroughly enjoying the experience, as opposed to mentally counting the number of strokes before moving on to the next part of the oral menu. That aside, this is a very good book, and I appreciated Kerner's willingness to share his very personal experiences with others. Would that all men were so enthusiastic about going down. - Jane

ReganBooks (Harper Collins), 2004, Hardcover

ultimate cunnilingus The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus - Violet Blue

Now let's move on, from a book written by a man who loves going down on his wife, to a book written by a bisexual woman. As the back cover of this one proclaims, this isn't het-centric but rather "for all women - heterosexual, lesbian, bisexual - and men who desire hot oral encounters."

This book is definitely not so evangelical as the aforementioned one - it's just a happy, healthy and thorough overview without any down play of any other type of play. Health considerations are discussed, as are emotional considerations like getting over worrying about your own taste or odor when you're the recipient of oral sex. The anatomy section was helpful, with the latest research on the internal sex organs. The clit is more far-reaching than most might have imagined. The section on G-spot and ejaculation was up to date with the most recent info on that often debated subject. The only thing I'd take issue with there as a woman who does sometimes ejaculate was the statement about having a partner give a tap on the head of the person performing oral, if they don't want to get wet: many women don't have advance warning when they are about to ejaculate, so that isn't a given in my experience.

Violet Blue is nothing if not thorough, which you'll know if you've checked out her previous titles. She offers advice on everything from pressure points to the use of sextoys to pain play, bondage and anal stimulation in conjunction with great head. There was also a helpful section for continuing education, with suggestions for other books and video. All in all, a concise and easy to digest, very orientation-inclusive guide to the subject. - Jane

Cleis Press, 2002. Trade Paperback

many joys of sextoys The Many Joys of Sex Toys - Anne Semans

Anne Semans, co-author of one of the best basic sex-ed books around (Good Vibrations Guide to Good Sex with Cathy Winks) has a new book out devoted to sextoy how-to and info. I suppose as a woman who is well-versed in her toys, I didn't realize how much information there really was to write about, but upon opening the book I found myself realizing how many interesting toy options I simply hadn't really considered.

The book starts out with a general info section covering such topics as basic styles of toys, body "hot spots", care and safety in using toys, and so on. If the whole subject is new to you, you'll definitely find this a good starting place before you decide to set foot in a store, or click your mouse to an online one.

The rest of the book is devoted to a recipe book of sorts, with various toys and positions to use them in laid out in Anne's warm and friendly way. There are illustrations to go along, variations on each, and in between each few of these you'll find an erotic story featuring a sex toy. The stories are great in an of themselves (incidentally, if you only want stories and want to skip the info, there is an anthology by the same author that is pure fiction starring sextoys, ) All in all, this wonderful book is like a modern day toy Kama Sutra. - Jane

Broadway Books, September 2004. Softcover.

foreign affairs Foreign Affairs - edited by Mitzi Szereto

The goal in this ongoing series (this is book 3) is to be equal parts travelogue, literature and erotica. In some stories that goal is met, in others the travelogue is perhaps lacking, but one thing that is consistent is the wonderful writing. From frigid Colorado ski slopes to Buddha-peppered foreign temples, the stories are infused with the exotic tone of new places, the sometimes-loneliness and melancholy of travel.

In Cheyenne Blue's So Cold the Night I found a surprisingly bittersweet twist. Diane LeBow's The Sex Critic is a delightful romp through numerous cultures and lovers, those that ended up getting a "five star rating". Lisbet Sarai takes us on a journey fraught with spiritual peril in one couples encounter with a Buddhist monk. I have to say, as erotica anthologies go this one did more to spark both my wanderlust and my libido than anything in either genre that I've read lately. - Jane

Cleis Press, September 2004. Softcover.

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