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on December 4, 2010
Sometimes you need someone to ask all the right questions to coax all the right answers out of you. Sometimes you need someone to ask the embarrassing questions you would not want to answer or the questions you are uncomfortable knowing are out there. Sometimes you need someone to lead the conversation to keep you on track. Sometimes you need to be tempted and the right questions can push you over the edge.

Susie Bright's guided sex journal "Love and Lust" asks some of those questions. She puts those questions out there to help you to dig down into your big box of sexual secrets (or not-so-secrets) and write about it.

Some of the questions, like "Have you ever had sex with a person you didn't know at all - a stranger?" are so personal that you may not want to know the answer yourself or you might relish in each time you had a steamy romp with someone you whose name you remember as "feathered hair guy" and would never see again.

Others, like "What was your first sexual experience with another person?" might cause fuzzy, dreamy somewhat awkward memories of a first love or memories you might prefer not to remember and have remained hidden.

But that is what a journal is for! A journal is for those secrets that you want to tell yourself and either celebrate those secrets or simply get them off of your chest. A journal is to hide your deepest innermost dirty secret thoughts in. It is to let loose and to write all those thoughts, ideas and fantasies you have been aching to get out of your mind, through your fingers onto the pages for your own personal fulfillment.

Or to "accidentally" leave for a lover/potential lover/in-law/law-student roommate to find and ogle and sigh over.

And for the latter this is a most tempting journal... The lovely red and black cover and binding draw your eyes directly to it and the tiny lock and key is pure temptation to those who might need a little tempting. The pages are lovely and thick, creamy of texture and ink sinks into it like a warm finger sinks into butter. Your fingers are drawn to the journal because it looks like something tempting. It looks like a piece of chocolate sitting on a pillow in a fancy hotel. It looks like a vintage Porsche sitting unattended with the keys in the ignition... And, if you have somewhat of a perverse, exhibitionistic personality like I have, you may want to leave it out on the coffee table for all to see.

For those that need a little help with getting your thoughts straight in order to write them down, Ms. Bright's thoughtful, insightful and sometimes silly questions will help provide some of the guidance that you may need in order to just happily write in your journal and get a better idea of who you are sexually or to open your smut writing floodgates and become the next Pat Califia or Earl de Rochester or Jerry Stahl or D.H. Lawrence or maybe even Susie Bright.

My only worries it that there is not enough room at the end where the journal leaves blank pages for you, the writer, to fill in with your own thoughts. I am not sure there is quite enough pages...
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on November 30, 2010
The lock and key reminded me of my first diary; a magical place where I could write my thoughts. I always attributed my journals to possess a special kind of power because somewhere in my life, the written words manifested. Sometimes I wondered if it were the pages my words were written on or something much bigger.

Susie Bright's Sex Journal stretches the sexual boundaries for the first timer as well as the experienced journal writer. The sensual prompts take those who haven't been in the sexual arena to a new place of discovery and for the experienced, allows for a time of reflection and perhaps - sexual revision.

The quotes within the book originate from influential people across all mediums such as Mae West and Gypsy Rose Lee. Susie Bright does an excellent job in strategically placing the sex positive quotes throughout the journal. Each quote or saying is meant to elicit a response from the recesses of the sexual mind. Each prompt sent my mind to the exact time and place of what I was doing. Some places I revisited with pride, while others took me to a darker place. Oddly enough, a few of the writing prompts allowed me to wrestle with some old demons and healing began. And just when I thought I had done just about every sexual activity out there, Susie's prompts asked some questions that got my sexual creative juices flowing.

There is one caveat: the Sex Journal will transform you in unexpected ways. Before I encountered Susie Bright's work years ago, I keep my sexual thoughts to myself. After I read a few of her works, I felt brave enough to step out into the mainstream. Now a decade and several dozens of sexual experiences later, the journal allows me to connect with feelings and emotions I've struggled to own or simply have long forgotten.

The Sex Journal is for the person from all lifestyles that want to add a squeeze of sexual excitement to their lives. This journal is for the teenager who wants to explore new shades of their sexuality. For the single person who wants to stretch their boundaries and taste a new life. For parents who find themselves in a sexual routine and want to learn more about their partner (after all, it is secrets that make you more mysterious). And, it is for those who have already done every sexual activity to reminisce a life they once had.
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on December 4, 2010
I've loved journaling all my life, and I still have my 101 Dalmations lock and key diary somewhere in my childhood house. Susie Bright's "Love and Lust" journal immediately reminded me of those days, answering silly questions that surreptitiously provided an insight into who I was. The biggest difference was that this journal feels like an adult journal. The outside cover is a beautiful floral pattern of black on red, and there is even a lock and two keys; perfect for keeping your secrets to yourself and maybe even one special someone.

Inside the journal is a welcoming note from Susie, followed by beautifully printed pages of fun questions and memorable quotes from characters such as Alice Walker and Zelda Fitzgerald. I chose my favourite pen, and jumped headfirst into journaling. Some of the questions immediately brought up old memories and were easy to answer; "Who was your first kiss?" and "What's your favorite go-to fantasy?". Others were more difficult, or I decided to come back to them later when I was in the right mood; "What's a sexual secret you've never shared with anyone?". I left a few for much later, since I had no experience to draw from to answer the question.

While I thought about skipping around the entire journal, I ended up answering most of the questions in order. They're grouped into related sections, which made it quite difficult to skip pieces without getting confused about the next question's references. Even so, I enjoyed moving through this journal at my own page. It's perfect for reminiscing about old flames, mistakes and triumphs. I kept it by my bedside so I could write in it each night before bed.

I only had a few qualms about this journal. Firstly, a significant portion of the questions require the writer to have a bit of a colourful sexual history. I couldn't answer questions about having multiple partners in one year, sex with a person who became `well known', sexual partners who had other sexual partners at the same time, or sex with a stranger. It made me sad to skip so many of these questions, so I may go back and write my hypothetical thoughts instead. Susie mentioned that she may later write a `virgin' journal, which I look forward to comparing to this one. I have a feeling I fall somewhere in the middle. The other piece of this journal that irked me was the lock - there weren't any directions so it took me fifteen minutes to figure out how to use it, and the plastic hits against the page edges and is damaging them over time.

Overall, I would recommend this journal for those who love being prompted to write their thoughts. "Love and Lust" would be a cute gift for a girlfriend who could use a little more introspection, or to share with a group of friends during a sleepover or hen's night. Keep in mind, however, that some of the questions may be more extreme than the sexual history of you and your buddies. No worries, though; have fun discussing "what ifs?" and see what they think!
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on December 1, 2010
Susie Bright Journal Review

The "Love and Lust" journal cover kind of reminds me of an Edward Gorey book. On the inside, however, is nice quality paper with really wide ruled lines, and writing prompts about your sexual history, your sexual ideals, your sexual goals. Some of these are quotations from figures as disparate as Rumi and Mae West.

Other prompts are direct questions to the holder of the journal that ask, in frank, plain language, what you've done in the past, whether you liked it, whether you'd do it again, and what you'd like to do in the future. My first impression is that this is a book for a fairly young woman with a fairly long sexual biography. There's a bit of the Cosmo Quiz in these questions, but without the judgmental answer key.

You know how I can picture this journal being used? A woman writes in it, furtively, quickly, always hiding it behind a pillow when her lover walks into the room (it's a man in my fantasy here). He'll ask what she was doing, and she'll say, hot and flushed, "nothing!" I'm sure he can't help but notice, however, that whenever he catches her doing nothing, she's a bit of a tigress later that night.

One day, however, he walks into her bedroom, and there is The Red Book, the one he always thought he saw her hiding. Should he read it? Well, it's got a lock, and it's unlocked. (Or maybe she left a post-it note saying, "Well, here it is.")

So he sits on the edge of the bed, and reads. Is he enthralled? Intrigued? Flummoxed? Flabbergasted? Ready to pounce on her? Ready to give her back her apartment key and walk off, alone, into the sunset?

This could be pretty hot, or it could be kind of passive aggressive. Why not just tell him how many lovers you've had, or had in one day? Maybe because you're embarrassed to mention it to yourself.

I couldn't find any questions that specifically have to do with healing old wounds, of abuse or mistreatment or assault. Whether in spite of, or because of this, I think this book would work, gently and perhaps unexpectedly, as a way toward sexual healing. I can also see these prompts being used in an essay-writing class specifically geared toward women who want to open their hearts (and their other parts) again after a period of inaction, chosen or imposed.

You can flip around in the book so as not to try to ask the questions in order, but many of them are grouped by theme without being obvious, and it's not always clear how much space is dedicated to what, so I found myself getting slightly put off by the combination of too few and too many instructions. But on the whole I think this book would make an excellent gift for a young lady who is just coming into her own (and tell her it's not a book to write in a hurry). It might also make a welcome gift for a woman making a fresh start later in life, or what the hell, for a grandmother who's always talking about writing her memoirs and never seems to pick up a pen.
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on December 9, 2010
Come with Susie and she shall show you the way. Susie's guidebook-like journal or diary is a turn-on and literally unlocks (the book has a lock and key) your love and lust reflections, enjoyments, horrors, mis-steps, and all the rest of it. I know that I'm supposed to scribble down my thoughts in this book - and maybe someday I will - but, for now, I'm keeping the neatly-lined spaces below the questions and prompts blank - undefiled pages somehow have a way of letting my imagination run wilder and more chaotic whenever I chance to pick up the book.
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on November 27, 2010
One of the things I loved about Susie Bright's last book, Bitten, was how beautiful it was. That's even more true of this new "guided sex journal." It's a beautiful book. It's just the right size for reading or writing with an eye-catching red cover and a lock and key to keep it private. The interior pages are nice too. The graphic designer in me wholeheartedly approves of the typography (Caslon is one of my favorite typefaces), and the layout of the pages is ideal for writing. Although most of the book is prompted by questions from Susie or from quotes she has selected, there are a bunch of pages at the end for whatever you want to write, be it recipes for sexy food or slash porn or whatever. The guided pages are what make the book special, though, since they prompt the diarist to think about sex in ways that may not occur to her otherwise. Some of them are questions I'm not sure I want to answer, but others got me thinking about my own sexual history in ways that were particularly arousing. Susie knows her business. This is primarily directed at women, but anyone interested in writing and thinking about sex (and doing it, for that matter) can get something out of it. Because I'm trans, I'm having to adjust my own answers to the book's prompts to accommodate my unusual sexual history, but this isn't impossible or even particularly difficult. Mainly, this has me itching to write erotica, and anything that makes me want to write is a good thing.
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on December 10, 2010
This gem of a book looks deceptively empty at first. It's filled with thought and memory provoking questions, designed to get you thinking about your loves and lusts, and the good times past, present, and future. You can open it anywhere and this guided sex journal will have something for you to think about: what do you know about your family's sexual secrets? who was your first love? your first experience? your go-to fantasy? The author clearly (this is Susie Bright, after all!) comes from the viewpoint that sex is natural, healthy, and fun. I found myself happy and pleased at the sex-positive angle the questions come from, and that got me interested in writing more than I expected. It asks questions that, if you want, can inspire several jottings. I'm still mulling over questions - what exactly is my favored this or that? I'd never thought about it before.

The book itself is beautiful, well bound, with border graphics on most every page. But the lock and key are just for show. They close the book but don't actually lock it. I loved the idea of a lock on the journal, the illusion of privacy that a small diary lock with a flimsy key provides. While I don't need it, I miss it.
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on December 9, 2010
My first reaction to this journal was discouragement. So I read through the questions and pondered the reasons for my reaction. I came up with 2 possibilities. Some of my sexual history is sad or boring. The other is that I have been in the habit of censoring myself because of men. It has more than once that a man will tease, or critisize me for either my sexual personality or my sexual past.

So..I changed my approach. I gave myself persmission NOT to write in the journal. I read a couple questions a day and just thought about it. What fun. Susie Bright is a funny, positive guide. It is liberating to take off some of the restrictive layers of (thought)clothing I had been wearing. I am Ok!! Just as I am.

I have read erotica in the past, and I think it would be fun to write a few stories of my own. Now, I feel I have a little entryway into my personal erotic world. Susie's questions reminded me that I do have positive memories and I am powerful and creative enough to have a rich sexual future. This journal can encourage you and build up your confidence. I love the idea of sharing this journal with others...maybe someday.
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on November 29, 2010
I am a journal junkie, I admit, and have been since I was a kid. I particularly like those sort of fill-in-the-blanks type of journals, the sort that ask you a question and get you thinking. This journal takes that to a new, saucy level with fun questions about your own sex life, sex life covering everything from first times to fantasies and all that fun, messy stuff in between. I love how sex positive it is, handing you a sturdy frame to talk about any and all things sexuality, good and bad, recent or long ago. I think I'm going to send this one to all the lovely ladies on my Christmas list! I wonder if they've been naughty...or nice? (I rather hope it's naughty and that they write it down in their new journal!)

I'd read only Susie's How to Write a Dirty Story before, which I also loved, and find I really want to go ahead and catch up with her stuff that I've missed.
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on December 10, 2010
Love and Lust tells you right up there on the first page: "This is your sex story - no one else has lived anything like it". To my knowledge, no one else has ever put together a book anything like this either. Once you've decided that you want to (or even want to try to) write about sex, this will be the first and last page that you will need to read in sequence.

First off, this is a beautiful book. The pictures don't do it justice. For those of us whose lives have become so electronic, it's a chance to pick up a special pen (or find a previous favored one - mine was packed away with the mementos of my pre-email letter writing materials). It _looks_ like it should be a book about sex. So make it one. It's going to be my go-to gift for some of the more daring women in my life...and some of the more reserved ones as well. I'm not sure which group will enjoy it more.

This is a "guided" journal. For people who have never journaled before (or people like me, for whom it has been many many years), it's a lovely place to start. For experienced journalers, I think the setup will provoke well different writing than the proverbial blank book. And that's what is so lovely about the way the journal is formatted: you can dip your toe in with some of the more gentle questions ("Who did you kiss most recently"?). These can be answered as briefly or in as much detail as you like - there is plenty of room to write, even for the questions that could be answered in few words. Or you can dive right in to some questions that will likely take reflection ("You run into 'The One Who Got Away'. You've got the next four hours, and no one else knows where you are or what you're up to. What happens"?).

If you haven't written about your own sexuality before, you can take a moment after answering your first question, sit back and say yeah, I've done it, I just wrote about my sex life. I promise, that feels really good.

For extra credit, I would recommend two of Bright's other books as companions - Full Exposure: Opening Up to Sexual Creativity and Erotic Expression; and How to Write a Dirty Story: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Erotica. One of the things that has made me the happiest about getting to go through the writing process in Love and Lust is feeling like it's something that has come full circle through these three works.
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