One way to get your sizzle on in preparation for Valentine's Day is with Fifty Shades of Romance. The audience-friendly question-answer session and panel discussion will star a quartet of area authors whose specialty is romantic suspense the hotter, the better.
Onboard will be Cindy Sample ("Dying for a Dance"), Paisley Kirkpatrick ("Night Angel"), Donna Del Oro ("The Delphi Bloodline") and Dee Brice ("Virtual Murder").
There will be a free drawing for a Valentine's Day gift basket valued at $200.
Fifty Shades of Romance will be at 2 p.m. next Sunday at the Market Place, 1325 Riley St., Folsom (in the Raley's-anchored center, across the street from the Aquatic Center). Information: (916) 984-4220
Top o' the genres
Look at this melange as a grab bag of genres and topics, starting with a pair in recognition of Black History Month:
"Harlem Is Nowhere" by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (Little, Brown, $24.99, 304 pages): The Harlem resident plays "tour guide and interpreter" on a cultural journey into the "mecca of black America."
"Angels of Ascent," edited by Charles Henry Rowell (W.W. Norton, $24.95, 672 pages): More than 70 African American poets gather in this anthology, which moves from the 1950s to the present day.
Seguing to two for animal lovers
"Four-Legged Miracles" by Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger (St. Martin's, $14.99, 288 pages): Dogs lost, dogs kidnapped, dogs swept away by nature, dogs that roam and wander. Happily, they all made it back home.
"True Love" by Rachel Buchholz (National Geographic, $9.99, 96 pages): Color photos and text tell the tales of love in the animal kingdom dogs, horses, ducks, chimps, pigs, lions, donkeys and manatees are part of the parade.
And on to cooking
"Kathryn's Kitchen" by Nancy Ware (Ware-Wolf Enterprises, $24.95, 232 pages; buy it at www. warewolfenterprises.com): Retired schoolteacher Ware of Carmichael has devoted much of her life to traveling the world and finally got around to compiling her collected recipes in one place. They're aimed at beginning home cooks.
In her words, "I would like the new cook to not be afraid; very few kitchens crash because of mistakes."
"Back of the House" by Scott Haas (Berkley, $16, 320 pages): Just what makes an A-list chef tick? To find out, foodie and psychologist Haas spent 18 months in Craigie on Main restaurant in Boston, working with (and observing) James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Maws.
With a stop at a big-buzz title
"Indiscretion" by Charles Dubow (William Morrow, $25.99, 400 pages): Harry and Madeleine Winslow have it all, including a summer house in East Hampton on Long Island. Then, out of nowhere, into their orbit comes young and seemingly naive Claire, and everything changes for the worse.
And ending with some local history
"University of California, Davis" by Dennis Dingemans and Ann Foley Scheuring, and "Colfax" by Jan Westmore (both from Arcadia, $21.99) tell the respective back stories of UC Davis and Colfax through vintage photos and informative text blocks.
Worthwhile reads ahead
When it comes to great reads, Publishers Weekly magazine, the bible of the book industry, knows what's worthwhile. Consider this sampling from its recent compilation of most- anticipated spring titles:
"The Golem and the Jinni" by Helene Wecker (April): Two otherworldly creatures meet 'n' greet in 1900s New York City.
"Red Moon" by Benjamin Percy (May) "Literary horror" occupies a narrow niche; this one's about werewolves.
"Joyland" by Stephen King (June): A college student gets a job as a carny in an amusement park and discovers it has a very disturbing history.
"The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls" by Anton DiSclafani (June) Thea is a troubled teen sent to a boarding school for privileged girls; set in the 1930s South.
"Big Girl Panties" by Stephanie Evanovich (July): The niece of mega-selling romance writer Janet Evanovich debuts with a romance of her own.
"The Secretary" by Kim Ghattas (March): The journalist accompanied Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on missions around the globe for this biography.
"Outlaw" by Michael Streissguth (April): As in Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, who took country music by the horns in the 1960s and 1970s and made it their own.
"The Last Train to Zona Verde" by Paul Theroux (May): The master of the travel memoir recalls his early years in Africa.
"American Gun" by Chris Kyle (May): The ex-Navy SEAL follows "American Sniper" with a look at 10 classic American firearms and how they have affected our culture.
Writer's Brush event
If you want to read your poetry in public, or hear other writers and poets read from their works (and view their art), check out the Writer's Brush open-reading reception, with music by George Sheldon.
Part of the Second Saturday series, it will be 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Sacramento Poetry Center/Poets Gallery, 1719 25th St., Sacramento; (916) 240-1897.
The Sacramento chapter of the California Writers Club is accepting entries in its annual writing contest. This year's theme is "The Most Influential Person in My Life."
The personal essays can be no longer than 750 words. Cash prizes for the three judged the best. Submission deadline March 30. Contest rules are athttp://www.cwcsacramentowriters.org/contests. Information: (916) 684-6077.