Review: Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica

I am a tried and true lover of erotica. Erotica has always been my preference when it comes to getting off – while I definitely love and appreciate (ethically-produced and feminist!) pornography, nothing gets me going like a steamy story. Also, as a new sex blogger, I’m always on the lookout for any kind of product to review. With those two things in mind, you can imagine my delight when I saw this pinned tweet on Cleis Press’ Twitter timeline:

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I immediately e-mailed Cleis Press and was met with fantastic customer service and a copy of Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica already in the mail to me the next day. Cleis Press is known for publishing queer, sex-positive books across a wide variety of genres, so naturally I was super happy for the opportunity to review something from them. Furthermore, the editor of Come Again, Rachel Kramer Bussel, is a seasoned writer, editor, and blogger in the sexuality world. I’ve been a fan of hers a while, making me even more thrilled to review Come Again, which is her latest work.

Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica was only published in March, but it’s already gained a lot of hype in the sex blogging/sex writing community – and for good reason. It’s not too rare to find toy use in erotica here or there, but an entire anthology devoted solely to sex toys? Awesome. Furthermore, before receiving Come Again, I’d heard a general buzz (ha!) about the book’s commitment to diversity and showcasing a range of sex toy experiences. These points were the most important for me – as a queer woman, I crave more than the typical heterosexual pairings most often seen in erotica. Representation is important. Also, while traditional vibrator and dildo stories can be fun and sexy, reading about a Magic Wand a dozen times in a row gets a bit old. Luckily, Come Again definitely lived up to the hype – let’s dive in!

Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica
Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica

Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica features 24 short stories from a wide range of authors. There’s something for everyone here – the sex ranges from vanilla to light kink, and every story included reads in a genuine way. You won’t find any hokey, overly-sentimental euphemisms for genitals or sex acts in Come Again, which was definitely a huge plus for me. Reading through Come Again, Rachel Kramer Bussel’s commitment to inclusion begins to shine through immediately – no two stories are similar, and the collection features characters of many identities and backgrounds. Even though Come Again is much more diverse than your typical erotica, the collection lacked many explicitly stated characters of color, differently-abled characters, and fat characters. One of my favorite stories featured a trans* man of color and another favorite featured a queer woman with a physical disability, but I didn’t see much diversity in these areas beyond those two stories. (I don’t want to assume these characters didn’t exist because they weren’t explicitly stated, but again, representation is important.)

As I mentioned above, for me, this book’s draw comes from it’s inclusion of queer stories and commitment to showcasing non-traditional sex toys. Out of 24 stories, 8 of them featured queer characters, and 9 of them included sex toys you wouldn’t be able to find in any sex shop. Come Again is as intersectional and diverse in regard to queer folks as it is imaginative, which can be a rare find in the erotica world! Most of the queer-focused stories featured queer women; one featured a trans* man and another featured a gay man. (So, keeping that in mind, if you’re looking for queer erotica outside the realm of queer women, this may not be the book for you.) Furthermore, the non-traditional sex toys featured in these stories range from vegetables to an incredibly inventive Simulsphere where the user can create and live out any sexual fantasy in a virtual world. The stories included in Come Again aren’t only sexy and steamy – they’re brilliant. These two factors combined – the queer stories and the inventive and intelligent sex toys featured in the collection – made Come Again extremely hard to put down. After each short story ended I was hungry to see what fantastic new invention or queer encounter was waiting on the following pages.

Reading one of my favorite stories while I was supposed to be moving into my new apartment. Needless to say, I didn't get a whole lot of work done.
Reading one of my favorite stories while I was supposed to be moving into my new apartment. Needless to say, I didn’t get a whole lot of work done.

While I honestly enjoyed each story in Come Again, I truly loved, and was even moved by, a select few. My favorite story in the collection was Gift by Dena Hankins. Gift features two women in their 60’s and 70’s exploring lesbian sex for the first time. They have been sleeping together for a few weeks, but the story focuses on a new toy they test together, leading to a new level of pleasure neither woman has ever experienced. Gift not only turned me on, but deeply moved me as well. In the story, one of the women deals with physical disability and mobility issues. With the introduction of the new toy, she is able to reclaim her sexuality in spite of her limited mobility and engage fully with her lover for the first time. For the first time, my eyes welled with tears while reading erotica – a true testament to the undeniable beauty of Gift and Dena Hankins’ talent as an author.

I also especially enjoyed Vegetable Love by Susan St. Aubin, Lost and Pounded by Zee Giovanni, Bikery by Oliver Hollandaize, The Cure for the Common Lay by Valerie Alexander, Standard of Care by Sybil Rush, and My Life as a Vibrator by Livia Ellis. The stories in Come Again never failed to get me off. I would certainly recommend this collection to any erotica lovers and/or sex toy aficionados. You will not be disappointed!

Huge thanks to Cleis Press for sending me a copy of Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica in exchange for an honest review!

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Real Neat Blog Award!

Last week, three truly lovely people I admire in the sex blogging world – Emmeline Peaches, Miss Ruby Reviews, and Kinky Kitten – nominated me for a Real Neat Blog Award! I was shocked when I received my first nomination, and even more so when I got my second and third. My website has only been up and running for a little over three weeks, so I feel quite honored to be nominated! I’ve been blown away by the truly amazing and supportive community I’ve found since I started my blog and incredibly thankful to all of those who nominated for the Real Neat Blog Award.

For folks who don’t know about the Real Neat Blog Award, it gives you all, my wonderful readers, a chance to know a bit more about me, how I came to be a blogger, and what I envision for the future of my website. A couple of the nominations I received featured different questions, so I’ve tried my best to combine those nominations here while still keeping things relatively short and sweet. I hope you all enjoy!

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1) Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging to give myself a platform to express myself in a way I could never do before. I’ve worked for sexuality-focused companies and written extensively about sexuality and sex education in college, but I never had a safe space (and a brave space) that was all my own before I started Formidable Femme. This desire to carve out my own corner of the internet was borne out of a personal pleasure-based journey I’ve been on for the past year or so in an attempt to reclaim my sexuality after an abusive relationship. I was so inspired by the countless amazing sex bloggers I was reading day in and day out. When I finally realized that this was something I could do too, it didn’t take me long to purchase a domain name and get to work on setting up my site.

2) If your site had a goal, what would it be? How do you feel you’re doing with that goal, right now? How do you feel you’ve done with that goal over all?

Well, as I’ve only been blogging for a little over three weeks, I’m not as far along with my goals as I’d like to be. However, my overall goal is to offer a unique lens on sex toys and sex blogging in general through the lens of my intersectional identities – as a queer femme woman, as a survivor, and as someone living with a mental illness. While I’ve only posted a couple of reviews so far to get started, I want to get in touch with those intersectional identities through not only how I feel about (and use) sex toys, but also in a “Personal Musings” section where I discuss my thoughts about sexuality, gender, and feminism. I love writing reviews, but I’m really looking forward to writing about social justice issues as well. So far I think I’m doing pretty well with my goals considering how young my site is! (I also want to work on building an educational section of my website beyond the content I include in reviews or musings, but that’ll be a work in progress. Ideally, it would be focused on sexuality education as it relates to the intersectional identities I mentioned above.)

3) How has blogging influenced your life?

Again, even though I’ve only been blogging for a short amount of time, it’s already influenced my life in profound ways. On the night I bought my domain name and began to set up Formidable Femme, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. Just having a place to call my own was incredibly freeing, and I felt so comforted by taking that first step. Over the past few weeks, that freeing feeling has only gotten stronger – I feel more empowered than ever before about my sexuality, my queerness, and my femmeness. Having a shareable, interactive safe space is amazing!

4) What is your favorite part of blogging?

My favorite part about blogging is the extremely welcoming, open, and supportive community I’ve found over the past few weeks. Everyone in the sex blogging world is unbelievably helpful and willing to get new bloggers up and running by giving them as many tools, tips, and tricks as possible to help them succeed. There’s no competition here – only love, support, and mutual understanding. I was surprised to be welcomed with such open arms, but I’m so, so thankful that I was, and every day I’m happy to interact with all the lovely humans in this community. Of course, I also love the educational aspect of sex blogging in general and can’t wait to work a bit more on that part of my website.

5) What website on the entire web, besides your own, do you spend the most time on?

Tumblr! I’ve been super involved on Tumblr for the past six or so years and I think it’s a fantastic place to learn, grow, and cultivate new interests. Tumblr helped me immensely with my coming out process and also helped me find a supportive queer feminist community when I hadn’t yet found one in college. (That being said, if anyone would like the URL for my personal tumblr, just let me know through Twitter or e-mail!) I also spend a lot of time on Twitter, especially my account for Formidable Femme, and Facebook.

6) Are you kinky? How did you come to this conclusion?

I’m still trying to figure this one out!

7) What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I grow up, I want to continue doing the kind of work I’m doing now, just on a larger scale. My roots are in pro-choice activism, queer advocacy, and sexuality education, and are all tied to political work and grassroots organizing. My full-time job is in the reproductive justice movement. In a couple of years, I’d like to go to graduate school for a program that combines all of my passions, so I’ll likely end up studying human sexuality or something politically-based with a focus in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. We’ll see what happens after that, but ideally I would love to be senior-level staff for a reproductive rights organization. I could also see myself going on to get my PhD and becoming a professor. Only time will tell!

8) What is the most important thing about you that you want everyone to know?

This is supposed to be about me, but I’m making it about you. I want you, dear reader, to know that I think you are worthy, you are loved, and you are enough. For too long, I was made to feel like I was unworthy, unlovable, and inadequate, and I never want anyone else to feel that way. Along with writing reviews and musings, I also want to provide a safe, brave space for my readers to feel accepted, understood, and heard.

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to nominate other folks for the Real Neat Blog Award – however, I’m pretty sure that all of the bloggers I had in mind have already been nominated! (Also, admittedly, I’m a bit late in writing this post – I’ve been moving into my new apartment and then on a beach vacation – so I’ve had some of these folks in mind for the past week or so.) So, while I think all of these wonderful folks have already been nominated (and some even nominated me!), there’s no harm in posting my list anyway: Emmeline Peaches, Artemisia FemmeCock, Sugarcunt, Miss Ruby Reviews, and Bex Talks Sex. You all are fantastic and so deserving of this award!

If you made it to the end of this post, thank you so much! This was such fun to write, and again, I’m incredibly honored to be nominated.

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Review: Good Clean Love Almost Naked Lube

As an ardent lover of sex toys, I’m always on the search for new, fantastic lube. When I was younger, I’m sad to say that I did not love lube as much as I do now, something I credit to a lack of education through sex-negative, abstinence-only sex ed programs. However, ever since I discovered that lube makes everything sexier and safer, I’ve never looked back, and I’ve been trying to make up for lost time by experimenting with different lubes to see what works best for – and with – my body.

I first stumbled upon Good Clean Love when I started writing for Unbound, an amazing sex toy subscription box company based in New York City. They sent me a lovely care package with some small gifts from previous boxes, and Good Clean Love’s Almost Naked Personal Lubricant was included in the mix. I was instantly drawn to the way Almost Naked felt – completely natural, just the way lube should.

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The Basics

Good Clean Love prides itself on making all-natural, organic lubes that respond to the user’s own body chemistry and natural lubrication. Almost Naked is Good Clean Love’s baseline lube – it doesn’t have a designated flavor like the Cinnamon Vanilla lube, and is different from the Bio-Match line (more on that at the end of the post). It’s also water-based, making this lube safe and compatible with latex and any and all toys.

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Almost Naked’s ingredients are conveniently listed on the back of its tube and include no petrochemicals, no parabens, and no glycerin. It’s edible and marketed as having an “almost undetectable scent”… well, we’ll talk about that in a minute. In addition to being all-natural and organic, this lube is also 100% vegan and not tested on animals, only adding to my love for it.

Good Clean Love Lube in Action

When thinking of how to describe how Almost Naked feels in use, I’m immediately reminded of a quote from Hey Epiphora’s first lube review: “My dream lube would melt with my body’s lubrication so well that I would forget I was using anything artificial.” Well, that pretty much sums up how I feel about Good Clean Love lube. Almost Naked enhances my own natural lubrication and feels invisible during use. Furthermore, when I’m cleaning up afterwards, I don’t feel the urge to immediately wash this lube off or hop in the shower. There’s no filmy or gunked-on feeling left over on my body after use, which is a major plus, and definitely speaks volumes to the naturalness of Almost Naked.

The consistency of Almost Naked is one of my favorite things about it. It isn’t watery or liquidy, but rather comes out of the tube as a gel. This creates a lovely, full-coverage feeling during use, and is especially fantastic with penetration. Almost Naked is also long-lasting (I very rarely need to reapply) and isn’t sticky at all.

Check out this consistency! And it doesn't slide off!
Check out this consistency! And it doesn’t slide off!

My only complaints about Almost Naked are the smell, taste and the slight film it leaves on my toys after use. Almost Naked has a sweet, lemon-vanilla smell, as explained on its product page, but Good Clean Love’s claim that Almost Naked’s scent is almost undetectable is not exactly true. While the smell isn’t horribly overwhelming, it’s definitely there. It’s not too discernible during use, but during application it’s noticeable, and leaves a sweet smell left over on my hands. Almost Naked also tastes sweet and lemon-vanilla-y, but this isn’t a huge issue for me as I’m currently not using this lube with a partner(s). If you use lube during oral and dislike flavored lube, this could be a problem for you.

Finally, Almost Naked leaves a very slight film on my toys after use. While I don’t get a filmy feeling on my own body after use, I find that this lube dries with a bit of film outside of my body. Cleaning up my toys isn’t difficult after using Almost Naked, but may require a bit of special attention to make sure there’s no film left over. Again, this issue isn’t a deal breaker for me, but for others it could be a problem.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I definitely love Good Clean Love’s Almost Naked lube. While I have some minor issues with it, the natural feeling of Almost Naked makes it my number one go-to lube of choice. I would recommend this product without hesitation to anyone and everyone who wouldn’t mind the smell, taste, or slight film the lube leaves outside of the body.

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While I obviously adore Almost Naked, I’d be remiss if I didn’t briefly discuss another kind of Good Clean Lube I’ve tried and found more serious problems with. As I mentioned above, Good Clean Love also has a line of Bio-Match lubes that seek to “mimic the body’s natural equilibrium” and match healthy vaginal conditions. One of these Bio-Match lubes is Restore. While it’s similar to Almost Naked in terms of its gel-like consistency and natural feeling, Restore has a distinctly different smell and leaves much more film outside of the body than Almost Naked. Restore’s smell is almost chemical, and the film it leaves on my toys is a major issue for me. I can definitely see how Restore and Good Clean Love’s Bio-Match products and mission in general could be beneficial for some, but for me it creates problems that are too large to overlook.

You can find Good Clean Love’s products on their website, over at SheVibe, or at Unbound’s online shop.

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Review: Peak Wand Massager

Let me get right down to business here: The Peak Wand Massager is the best vibrator I’ve ever used. I am unashamedly in love with the way it makes me feel, and I’d sing my praises for it from every rooftop in the world if possible. When I recently misplaced its charging cord while I was unpacking from a vacation, I tore my room apart to find it again. Clothes went flying, textbooks were thrown in haphazard piles, and my bag was turned upside down all so I could find a little black satin travel bag with the charging cord inside. (Excessive? Nope. Embarrassing? Maybe. You be the judge.)

I love this vibrator not only for the way it makes me feel, but also for the way it revolutionized my sexuality and empowered me to love myself and my body in new ways. The Peak Wand Massager was the first body-safe vibrator purchase I ever made, and also the first sex toy to bring me to orgasm. As a survivor, this was incredibly earth-shattering – I felt I could finally reclaim my sexuality and my body on my own terms. I’ll always be thankful for the Peak Wand Massager for helping me learn the beauty of my own body, and I couldn’t be happier to share my thoughts about this wonderful toy in my very first review! Now, let’s get to the details…

The Pure Enrichment Peak Wand Massager
The Pure Enrichment Peak Wand Massager

The Basics

The Peak Wand Massager is attractively packaged and comes in a sleek white box with company information, product details, and a 1-year warranty guarantee printed on the back. Inside the box sits the vibrator, a purple velvet storage pouch, a USB charging cable, and an informational booklet.

The wand is 7.5 inches long with a 1.5 inch (flexible!) tip, making the Peak Wand Massager much smaller than most other wands out there. The entire vibrator is coated in smooth medical grade silicone except for the silver strips at the top and bottom of the toy, which are made of ABS plastic. The silicone is very smooth and buttery to the touch, making the wand very comfortable to hold during use. (It even feels better to me than LELO’s silicone!)

The Peak Wand Massager has two buttons – a power button and a button to cycle through the vibrations – and is easy to turn on and off. It has seven vibration functions, including three steady vibration modes and four patterns. The steady modes increase in power – the first is deep and rumbly, the second is a perfect mix of rumbly and buzzy, and the third is a bit more buzzy. The pattern modes are also very strong and include medium and high pulsations with various patterns.

The charging port for this wand is located at its bottom end. The port isn’t obviously visible, and you have to essentially stab the charger into the silicone to plug it in. (Not my favorite method of charging, but it does the job.) A full charge rarely takes more than three hours and provides up to two hours of use. Finally, cleaning this toy with your favorite toy cleaner after use will do the trick!

The Peak Wand Massager in Action

The first time I used this vibrator, I came in less than a minute. (Full disclosure: As I said above, this was the first toy I ever used that made me come, but still. Less than one minute. Pretty impressive.) I just laid in my bed laughing hysterically when it was over – so happy that I’d discovered the wonderful world of vibrators, but also a bit sad I hadn’t found this thing earlier. However, I decided I wasn’t going to waste any more time, and went for round two… then round three. I slept better that night than I had in a long, long time.

The Peak Wand Massager packs the punch of a large wand-style vibrator, only in a small package. (Even though it’s relatively small for a wand, it’s stronger than all of my other vibrators, so don’t let the size fool you!) This wand seems to have found the perfect middle ground of rumbly and buzzy – the vibrations are targeted because of the size and flexibility of the tip, but are also very deep and satisfying. The range of vibration modes are also a huge asset to this toy, and make this wand appealing over others that may only have one or two steady vibration functions. While I’m not a huge fan of patterned vibrations, the pattern modes for this wand feel surprisingly good, and if nothing else serve as a warm-up for the incredibly powerful steady vibration modes.

Yay, flexible head!
Yay, flexible head!

For me, the steady vibration modes are the best part of the toy. The first mode rumbles my entire vulva and just feels lovely. Sometimes I can come from the first mode if I’m super turned on, but usually I use this mode as a warm up for the second. The second steady vibration mode truly exemplifies the rumbly-and-buzzy aspect of this wand. It’s deep and feels fantastic on my clit with a lot of pressure, but can also be very pinpoint. (The flexible head really helps here!) If I need it, the third mode helps push me over the edge, but normally I stick with the first two.

The orgasms this wand give me are explosive. They begin deep in my body and have an amazing buildup, and I can hardly ever have just one! Using this toy always makes me want to use it again, and again… and again. Also, if I’m having trouble getting off with another toy, this one always does the job – it’s definitely my go-to vibrator in times of need.

Final Thoughts

If you couldn’t tell, I really love the Peak Wand Massager. Surprisingly, it’s only available (to my knowledge) at Adam & Eve. I wish more shops carried this vibrator – reading the reviews at Adam & Eve show how big of a hit this toy is! Additionally, the company that makes the Peak Wand Massager, Pure Enrichment, have an excellent customer service department and have helped me out with registering the toy for warranty, missing charging cables, and questions about toy material.

I promise I won’t gush this much in all of my reviews, but this is one vibrator I truly adore. If you want to get yours, head over to Adam & Eve!

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Jumping In

Welcome, everyone! I am so incredibly excited to launch Formidable Femme today. This website started as a small spark in the back of my brain many months ago, and since then has made it’s way to the forefront of my thoughts as I get ready to graduate college and think about what I’m doing next.

As I mentioned in my About page, I wanted to create Formidable Femme as a place where my love for sexuality and writing could coalesce. Sexuality is a source of neverending fascination and wonder for me – as a queer woman and an educator, I’m saturated by discussions of queerness and healthy sexuality all the time, and I’m always looking to learn more. I’ve also had a life-long love affair with writing – since my childhood, I’ve loved writing in any capacity. The only thing missing from the sex toy reviewer equation was the sex toys themselves – and then when I discovered the wonders of my first vibrator, everything fell into place.

Since then, I’ve spent a potentially embarrassing amount of free time reading sex toy reviews, trying to learn the best ways to break into the sexuality writing sphere, and testing out sex toys themselves. I’ve been so inspired by some of my favorite sexuality educators and sex toy reviewers – Hey Epiphora, The Redhead Bedhead, Emmeline Peaches, Bex Talks Sex, Artemisia FemmeCock, Naughty Reenie, Dangerous Lilly, Lorax of Sex, and Apricot Creams, just to name a few – and realized that this was something I could do as well. It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but I couldn’t be happier to get started.

I also wanted to create Formidable Femme as a place where my intersectional identities could come together to help me carve out my own unique place on the internet. As a queer femme woman, a survivor, and someone living with a mental illness, I hope to draw on my experiences to give you all, my lovely readers, an intersectional perspective on sexuality and gender. To help keep Formidable Femme diverse, I also want to draw on the intersectional identities and unique experiences of my friends and invite them to write guest reviews and posts – I feel lucky to have an amazing support system and already have interest from folks who are more than willing to go on this journey with me.

I couldn’t be happier to start this new adventure, and I thank you so much for taking the time to read this introductory post! In the next few days I’ll be posting my first review and continuing to work on expanding the website. In the meantime, please feel free to follow me on Twitter and let me know what you’d like to see from Formidable Femme!

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