Land of Hope, Junying Kirk

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Part of the Land of Hope Blog Tour! (5 – 25 October 2012)

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I interviewed the very talented and cultured Junying Kirk almost a year ago.

Land of Hope is the third and final novel in Junying’s Journey to the West trilogy, which was recently published.

Here’s a book blurb and excerpt!

landofhope

Land of Hope [Blurb]:

Every year, millions of illegal immigrants cross borders in search of wealth, happiness and a life of ease in the Land of Hope. Some succeed. Others suffer unimaginable hardships.

When Jack Gordon, Inspector in the SCS (Serious Crime Squad) hires Pearl Zhang, a professional Chinese interpreter, they join forces to fight injustice in the corrupt underworld of international crime, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Pearl is the voice of broken dreams, translating raw, deranged, and colorful tales of those who cannot speak for themselves. As Pearl gets more and more tangled in the lives of strangers, Jack becomes a welcome diversion, complicated by the fact that both are married. Their trans-continental roller-coaster ride derails when Pearl tumbles into the sinister world of her clients, a world full of secrets, lies, and unspeakable violence — only this time, it’s directed at her.

Can she depend on Jack? Find out in this third and final book of Junying Kirk’s Journey to the West trilogy.

Land of Hope [Excerpt]:

A sudden, cracking sound from the kitchen interrupted her train of thought and made her mutter. “Shit,” came out under her breath. As if by magic, Jack appeared at the door in a flash.

“You all right?” His voice was filled with concern.

He is awfully quick on his feet, she noted, as she knelt down on the now-wet floor, sweeping up broken pieces of glass.

“I broke the vase, but it’s no big deal.” She stood up and glanced at Jack quickly before diverting her eyes, her face burning scarlet, reflections of the red roses.

Before she opened the cupboard to locate another container for the flowers, she heard Jack’s tender yet commanding whisper behind her. “Come here, Pearl.”

An electrical current shook through her as his strong arms reached out and drew her close.

Her back touched his first, before he turned her around to face him. She smelt a faint aftershave, assaulting her super-sensitive senses. His touch was so charged with an electrifying passion that her body responded with an unmistakably earthy desire. Involuntarily, and fatally, she allowed herself to fall into Jack’s inviting, enamoured embrace.

What happened next was beyond her control, as his ardent kisses showered first on her face and neck, then moved on to her mouth, which was already on fire. As soon as his lips touched hers, Pearl’s body started to tremble.

She let out a soft moan under his hot kisses and found herself responding to his fervent touch. Instinctively she pressed her body against his, willing herself to melt. The feeling of being wanted was so powerful that it overwhelmed all her other senses. In one quick movement, he picked her up and carried her towards the bedroom next door.

“Oh Jack,” was all she managed to utter.

Check out Junying’s interview with me, and the other Land of Hope blog tour stops (with Robert Pruneda on 13th October, and Andy Wood on 14th October)!

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Author Bio:

junying

Junying Kirk grew up in the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution. A British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching at Warwick University in 1988, followed by further postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher and cultural consultant.

When she is not traveling to Courts & Police stations as a professional interpreter, she loves spending her time reading & writing books, and traveling the world. Her ‘Journey to the West’ trilogy, ‘The Same Moon’, ‘Trials of Life’ and ‘Land of Hope’ have been published on Amazon.UK, Amazon.Com and Smashwords. She lives in Birmingham, UK with her English husband.

Why You’re Gorgeous, Book Review

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Quick Review of Why You’re Gorgeous (by Katy Gilbert)

I interviewed Katy Gilbert a few weeks ago on this blog. Katy’s latest book is titled Why You’re Gorgeous, a book that’ll leave you “inspired, relaxed, smart, confident, and a hell of a lot more self-loving” (text from official blurb).

I have a print copy of the book. To me, Why You’re Gorgeous is what a mainstream book should really be all about.

It’s a relatively slim, non-fiction book at 147 pages, but there’s very little fluff, so what you get is information that is sincere as well as useful / inspiring (refer to blurb text above to see what you’ll be getting).

Why You’re Gorgeous is divided into 10 chapters, which cover topics such as media and society, sex/relationships, body/appearance, and self-love. The book gets straight to the point in terms of literally reminding the reader why he/she is “gorgeous.” I think this is especially important in a world that’s very much driven by consumer culture, where materialism and external looks are given a lot more emphasis than something that’s more intrinsic and that sustains us from within (genuine self-love, in other words).

What makes the book extra special is the inclusion of contributors’ quotes and perspectives throughout the text. This was a very nice balance to the author’s main text, as it creates a tone that’s both personal as well as social.

Some excerpts:

(Pg 53 — Section on Bullying)

I have a right to freedom of speech!

Yeah, you do, and you’re lucky. What you don’t have it unqualified liberty to be a jerk.

Having the fortunate right to speak your mind does not entitle you to force your opinions on other people, cause physical or emotional harm to anyone in any way, or suggest that other people or their views are worthless. With freedom of speech comes responsibility for consideration, kindness and respect. Exercise it.

(Pg 62 — Section on Style)

Personal style is a goldmine of confidence, respect, creativity and fun.

“It’s not who we really are, it’s type of character we’ve morphed ourselves into because we think it’s right…What happened to ‘personality matters’? That has been completely overshadowed by these ‘clones’.” (contributor’s quote)

(Pg 87 — The fame game, all the same)

When so many celebrities are hand-picked and trained to be a certain size, their entire community appears to be made up of that one size and shape (skin tone, hair colour, etc etc). This presents an entire mini-world that is completely unrealistic but comes off as “normal”, so the lack of variation is projected as the way the world is — not true.

The writing style is suitable for all ages (tween, teen, young adult, older adult). I would’ve loved to have read this book during my teenage years :)

If you know anyone who’s struggling with body image issues, or is trying to develop a genuine/lasting/healthy form of self-love, do consider getting them a copy of Why You’re Gorgeous!

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Why You’re Gorgeous is available in eBook and print formats (at Katy Gilbert’s Website and her Lulu Shop), written by a lovely person with a lovely heart (Katy’s interview link).

Dave Baksh

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* Pic 1 (Dave Baksh) from here; Pic 2 (Sum 41) from here.

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I remember it was exactly 10 years ago that I first heard Sum 41’s “Fat Lip” (the year the song was released).

I was 15 or 16 years old at the time. I really liked that song because the tune was very catchy and the chorus had great lyrics:

“I don’t want to waste my time
become another casualty of society
I’ll never fall in line
Become another victim of your conformity
And back down”
— Sum 41, Fat Lip lyrics

There was a happy pop/punk sound which was exactly what I needed at that age.

Fast forward 10 years and I just happened to be thinking of this song, so I looked for a live vid on YouTube.

The above is a Tokyo live clip of Sum 41 performing “Fat Lip”…and omg, the guitar playing by Dave Baksh is totally insane!

Around the time while viewing the vid, I also read an MTV article (dated 2006) about how Dave found the mainstream music business to be too much of a competition, etc.

Dave Baksh is now with The Organ Thieves (a band whose sound/genre is “LYRICAL-EXPERIMENTAL-SOUL-ROCK”).

I always admire the passion people have for their art/music. The practical survival/money stuff is important, but so is  staying true to yourself and making the most of your talent(s). To me, I’ve always felt that when something (especially music) is too commercial, the soul is gone and it’s just not the same. So this is a quick blog post that reflects my admiration for people with the guts/passion to do things differently :)

After you’ve viewed the above video, you can check out these other links!

(1) Dave ‘Brownsound’ Baksh Says Sum 41 Got ‘Too Dark For The Public’ (MTV article)

(2) The Organ Thieves (Official FB Page)

(3) Last.fm (Organ Thieves’ music)

Erotic and Non-Erotic Updates

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Just a short note about My Inner Goddess (my recently completed Fifty Shades of Grey parody):

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Cover Design by jessINK | Stock photo by dpaint

Short Summary:

When literature student Bell-Ana Steale goes to interview the dazzlingly rich/powerful/handsome Christiano Gaynaldo (i.e. “Big G”), she encounters an Edward Cullenesque obsessive lover who she instantly desires as Her Man.

Cool, cunning, and intelligently amusing, My Inner Goddess is a devious satire that explores how far we’re willing to go to answer the question: Can love really conquer all?

Excerpt:

I inhale his sexy Christiano smell.

And he brings out that gray tie of his that he’s always wearing or has nearby…and wraps it around my neck.

Right now? my inner goddess manages to weakly mumble. Here? OK…

I watch as he pulls both ends of the tie–OMG!–tighter and tighter and tighter.

I flush. This is intense.

More Info: http://jessINK.com/fiftyshades.htm

Review Copies Available (eBook): Send me an email if you’d like to read/review My Inner Goddess ;) [missfeyATgmailDOTcom]

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The above is a promotional freebie eBook on “The Art of Erotic Writing” (where I talk about the themes and inspirations behind my works of erotic fiction.

‘Erotic fiction’ here refers to literature which deals openly and excitingly with sexuality as a part of human experience.

More Info: http://www.jessINK.com/erotic_writing.htm

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OTHER NEWS:

[1] I’ll be working on some genre series in 2013 to gain a wider readership. I’m looking forward to exploring deviant/taboo themes in the crime fiction vein (my type of erotic fiction will always be too complex to categorize neatly). I have some series outlined so it’s mostly a matter of sitting down and completing the project(s). While they won’t be in the “erotica” genre, I don’t intend to sanitize it too much either (I like things raw and realistic). I’ll certainly keep in mind the loyal readers/customers who’ve enjoyed my early work + provocative material ;)

[2] I’m about halfway through with editing The Darker Side of Life (elven trilogy book02).

[3] I’ve been invited to be on a couple of panels for Singapore Writers Festival 2012 (November ’12). More info soon (organizers are currently confirming the other authors involved).

Author Interview, Daniel Clausen

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Interview #65, with the author of “The Ghosts of Nagasaki”: Daniel Clausen!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

Hopelessly romantic coffee drinker.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

Inoue

This is the first paragraph from my upcoming novel, The Ghosts of Nagasaki:

The long backward perspective one gets from the angle of a word
processor some years later is a tricky one. As a connoisseur of
biography and autobiography I know that there is nothing less reliable than someone writing about his or her own past from his or her own perspective. And for the general welfare of those who look for the bare facts of the matter, I am obliged to stamp on the very first page, in the very first paragraph, in bold italics: All fact-seekers beware.

* You can join the emailing list for this book at: ghostsofnagasaki.com

* If you would like a free paperback or PDF version of the excerpt
“Silence” from this book, you can email Daniel at: lexicalfunk@gmail.com

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

Not my favorite book, but one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami.

I actually don’t have any copies of my favorite books, as strange as that sounds. Here is something from Kafka by the Shore.

The massive bank of thunderclouds crossed the city at a lethargic
pace, letting loose a flurry of lightning bolts as if probing every
nook and cranny for a long-lost morality, finally dwindling to a
faint, angry echo from the eastern sky.

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

That’s tough. A great deal of books on book marketing will tell you to begin your writing process with a target audience in mind.
This is counter-intuitive for most writers since most writing comes
from a desire to communicate something deeply personal. In other words, most authors start their books thinking about themselves, not their audience.

Even if you do decide to write something deeply personal, make sure
you get a good editor. Make sure you have an advertising
strategy that is practical and coherent. Make sure your book is the
best physical product you can have. And hopefully, the germ of your
inspiration to write will survive this process…there are no
guarantees.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

I’m not sure what good writing is, but good fiction should aspire to
be more truthful than real life. Good fiction can reach for honesties
not captured by the world most people know.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

There’s no pot of gold, just the joy of doing good work. Doing good
work is difficult, so when you do it, it’s very rewarding.

Ah, diligence :) Your websites/blogs/etc:

ghostsofnagasaki.com

I just started the website, so please join the emailing list. If
you’re not sure how, just email me at: lexicalfunk@gmail.com

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Much thanks to Daniel for stopping by — do visit his website for more info about his project!

Author Interview, Katy Gilbert

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Interview #64, with the author of “Why You’re Gorgeous”: Katy Gilbert!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

katygilbert

Determined, optimistic, individual, creative, caring.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

katy gilbert

From Why You’re Gorgeous:

Blurb:
“Have you ever felt less than utterly delectable?
Ever ruled out the possibility of wearing something that you loved (hello, leopard print Speedos) because you were afraid of what people might think?
Have you ever considered chainsawing your thighs or diving into a cereal diet?
Are you concerned that you can’t be manly if you wear pink?
Have you ever been told that real women are all curvy, or that you need to ‘erase’ your wrinkles?
Confidence lacking? Not believing that you’re exceptionally attractive?
You’ve come to the right place.
Welcome to the world of Why You’re Gorgeous!
It’s time to skip along the path to self-love. It’s possible.
What are you waiting for, gorgeous?”

Excerpt:

“You’re meant to look at your face and your body and gasp in horror. I’m a human being! With skin that isn’t baby youthful for eternity! I have hips! Where is my sixteen pack?! My jaw could do with a bit of chiselling — fetch the tool box! Quickly!

[…]Laughter lines? We can erase them! Hold still, this scalpel here’s just gonna nick into your wallet. Hips?! Unnecessary nowadays, out with them!

[…]Need a more manly jaw? Dahling, haven’t you seen the wonders a painless transformational procedure can achieve? We’ll have you de-deformed in no time.”

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

Oooh, this is so difficult, but what a great question!

I eventually chose Meg Rosoff. This is an excerpt from her book Just In Case:

“Who knows what to expect from a blast of that magnitude? The brain struggles to process information with which it has no experience, races to find an explanation for the searing pain in one shoulder, the awkward bend of a leg folded under and digging into your solar plexus, a leg that turns out not to be your own.

[…]All around are events signalling noise, mouths open in the posture of screams, huge panes of glass splintering from within bent window frames. Everything falls much too slowly and silently towards the ground.”

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

Writing is the love of my life, the publication process is…not so much! No, I’m joking! Whereas being an author is everything to me -– writing is my passion, purpose, the one (when you know you just know, right?!) –- the publishing world is full of dreams and sparkle and you really have to grind away at it to reach them. That’s not a bad thing, though! I’ve self-published two books now, and the publishing side is always a little more stressful than the actual writing. I suppose it just doesn’t flutter around me quite as naturally, but the challenge is an important one! It’s cool to be able to look over your shoulder and know that you achieved it.

In terms of approaching publishers and agents I love the overall experience; I take joy in creating my story. It is very wearing at times; I don’t think you can be aware of the full extent of what you’re taking on until you’re caught up in it yourself. It takes guts to persevere in this industry: you’re constantly offering yourself up for approval, and more often than not you don’t get it. I think you have to relinquish your grip on the personal and let rejection whoosh over your head. Be the sparrowhawk, not the sparrow!

There’ll always be days when it hits you harder than others, but that’s OK. There’ll be one day that turns out to be the best, ever, when everything finally comes together. It’s so exciting to think about a gleam of sun rising on it, and you having no idea what’s falling into place! I mean, that’s exciting regarding any day, let alone one as special as that.

I like that part about how it’s exciting regarding any day ;) What is your definition of “good writing”?

I think for writing to be ‘good’ it just needs passion behind it. If an author is completely dedicated to really putting craft and effort in the end result will have a degree of shine to it. That’s always going to be better than something someone’s thrown together for the sake of money or popularity, for example -– no matter how much talent is involved in either. Love for your baby shows!

Sweet! Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Keep going. You have times when you think ‘God, how much longer is it going to be like this’, then you get up the next morning and you do it again and again.
If you persevere you’ll come through the other side, right out into the bright, sparkling, unicorn adorned light!

And, enjoy the journey! Don’t be so fixated on ‘making it’ that you miss out on what’s just as important, which is getting there. You want your own story to be fabulous, too!

Sorry, that’s two tips.

Important ones, though :) Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.katygilb.com (website)
www.katygilblog.tumblr.com (blog)
www.katygilbert.bigcartel.com (buy / shop)
www.youtube.com/katygilb

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Much thanks to Katy for stopping by — do visit her website for more info about her and her very original/inspiring projects. Stay up to date and win cool prizes with her newsletter too!

UPDATE (2 Sept 12): Here’s my review of Why You’re Gorgeous.

Quality Erotica

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* This post is part of a short series on Quality Erotica:

QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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Jess’s erotic stash / “sex education”

INTRODUCTION:

After reading Fifty Shades of Grey (which was romance/fantasy), I thought of the (high-quality) erotic books I own because all of them gave me a really good grounding with regards to love/sex/relationships (in both fact and fiction).

In the above photo of my “erotic stash,” the first three books which introduced me to the world of erotic literature were:

(1) Edgar Allan Poe Anthology

(2) Anais Nin’s Little Birds

(3) D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover

I got those three books when I was 16 years old (nothing prepared me for the deviant wonder of Anais Nin — LOL!). Poe isn’t exactly an erotic writer (in the “sexual” sense) though one of his love letters in the anthology really opened up my perspective on relationships.

These are high-quality erotic books (what “erotica” should ideally be about) which “deal openly and excitingly with sexuality as a part of human experience” (to quote my co-author on Teen Guide, Matt Posner). Wikipedia (erotic literature) is a good resource if you want to learn more about this type of literature, and find the classics.

I’ve always (1) had a high level of interest in sex, (2) found sexuality to be a fascinating subject matter, especially when it’s intense/raw/realistic/non-superficial.

The books in my stash showed me what “real sex” is all about [as compared to the type of sex that most of the “mass media propaganda” (to quote Dr. Alex Comfort of The Joy of Sex / Part II in this series) likes to sell to consumers].

It really made a difference because I learned (and continue to learn) a lot about the true scope of what love/life/sex is all about. I wasn’t aware of it, but I think this entire stash helped me to understand the importance of developing a happy and relaxed sexuality (another quote from Dr. Comfort in The Joy of Sex).

I hope you find some good reads here ;)

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QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

For now I’ve divided my stash into five sections —

PART 1: Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Non-Fiction
PART 3: Poetry
PART 4: Fiction (Novels / Anthologies)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

[PART 1: Erotic Art Books]

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1. The Kama Sutra Illuminated: Erotic Art of India | Amazon.com

Blurb: Features 200+ artworks, accompanied by excerpts from the Sir Richard Burton translation of the original text. Long treasured as an uninhibited exaltation of erotic and mystical bliss, the Kama Sutra is a sublime gift for lovers — and lovers of beautiful art.

Excerpt:

“Decency, reality, and love;
Personal views and public opinion–
One who knows the Kama Sutra sees through all such things,
And is not programmed by one’s appetites.”

(Kama Sutra 7.2.51)

It was from this book that I directly learned how the actual/ancient Kama Sutra was not a sex manual (as it’s taken to be in Westernized cultures), but as something psychological to enhance a person’s personal/spiritual life. P.S. It’s a HUGE book with very high-quality prints.

Links: Amazon.com | Kama Sutra Quotes

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2. Erotica: An Illustrated Anthology of Sexual Art and Literature | Amazon.com

Blurb: This illustrated anthology presents a collection of the very best examples of sexual art and literature spanning two thousand years: from classical Rome and the ancient East to the novels of D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller. Artworks from Aubrey Beardsley, Henry Fuseli, Gustav Klimt, Thomas Rowlandson, and many others are juxtaposed with literary pieces from such names as C. P. Cavafy, Frank Harris, John Cleland, Anais Nin, Boccaccio, Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, and Casanova.

Excerpt:

Sadly, following the liberalization of the laws governing the publication of sexual material, a great deal of second-rate, ugly and pernicious stuff has also become available. This was inevitable but it does not argue for suppression. Indeed, it makes it vital for good erotica to be published, so that we can see for ourselves the difference between the life-enhancing, and the sordid and destructive. . . (Introduction / Page 7)

Best parts of the book =

1) the blend/presentation of pieces of erotic art, alongside excerpts of the finest literary erotica in the history of publishing/the written word

2) the scope of the selected works (which span over 2000 years of both Eastern and Western cultures)

This book which combines erotic art and literature is definitely one of my favourites in the entire stash.

Link: Amazon.com

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3. Icons of Erotic Art | Amazon.com

Blurb: This intimate, exquisitely produced collection offers provocative insights into what distinguishes the merely titillating from the masterful. Icons of Erotic Art brings together 150 sublime examples of this dynamic, covering nearly every major period on art history: ancient, Renaissance, and Rococo paintings; treasures from India, Japan, and China; Impressionist and Modernist masterpieces; even caricature, cartoons, and Pop Art. The result is a dazzling display of artistic eroticism and a new understanding of how its power transcends time and temperament.

Excerpt:

For the statue’s 500th birthday in 2004 Michelangelo’s David underwent an eight-month cleaning process to remove years of pollution from the marble surface.

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Image from Wikipedia

Working in daily proximity to this erotic icon, one of the restorers was overwhelmed by the experience. She was quoted in the press, saying: “I felt so much emotion when I found myself face-to-face with this giant. My heart was beating too fast. I had to call the doctor.” The ordinary viewer, gazing up at David’s 4.34 meters, cannot fail to be equally impressed, both by the heroic size and the vulnerability of David’s extraordinary body. (“The Voluptuous Male” / Page 18)

Gorgeous book and very informative.

Link: Amazon.com

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4. Art Nouveau and the Erotic | Amazon.com

Blurb: The swirling sensuous forms of Art Nouveau are synonymous with the erotic. This concise, fully illustrated study shows how the idea of the erotic was given visual expression by artists and designers, creating in the process some of the most striking and representative works in the new style.

Excerpt:

Art Nouveau designers created a style they deemed appropriate for a complex modern world. The style articulated widely held anxieties caused by opposing forces within society: nature versus technology, individual versus community, nationalism versus internationalism and — most significantly in the context of the erotic — the physical versus the spiritual. (Introduction / Page 8)

Don’t let the compact size of this book fool you ;)

Link: Amazon.com

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5. Skyscrapers of Oz (Yaoi Manga) | Amazon.com

Blurb: From tailing your lover to walking your dog, no job is too small! Mari and his partner Yoichi are drop-dead gorgeous “Handymen.” But they also have a hidden (and dangerous) other side. Their latest job is, of all things, to sleep with Yu, a beautiful male student! But instead Mari finds himself rescuing Yu from an attack, then sheltering him in his own apartment!

Excerpt:

Click on the second and third images above.

Yaoi also known as Boys’ Love, is a Japanese popular term for female-oriented fictional media that focus on homoerotic or homoromantic male relationships, usually created by female authors. I probably should “expand” my manga knowledge but that was an erotic one I got by chance that I enjoyed (very nice/cool drawings, especially if you find yaoi manga ‘sweet’).

Links: Amazon.com | Wikipedia (Yaoi)

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QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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