From the pile of books and manuscripts to review on my desk, here are three fascinating ones--passion projects all. If you're looking for gift ideas, any of these would appeal to readers. (Full disclosure, I contributed writing to one of these; the other two are by writers who took workshops from me.) 

Today, in typical spring-in-the-Rockies fashion, the weather pivoted 180 degrees from yesterday's sixty-five and sunny, into freezing rain, mist, sleet, snow, and then steady rain again. When I walked to the Post Office just a few minutes ago, the temperature was hovering just above freezing, and the cloud-blanket was beginning to clear, revealing new snow on the hillsides just above town. 

One of the benefits of a gig as a book reviewer is the excuse to read widely--hence the variety of books in my reading pile in the photo above. (No one reviews for the pay, which is generally nonexistent.)  

Another is that reading with an eye to reviewing means I read more carefully, thinking about voice, language, rhythm, narrative, plot and character (for fiction), and other aspects of writing inform my own work. Each book I review teaches me something, helping me grow as a writer. 

Take a peek at two books from my to-review stack that offer hope for the community of this earth--including we humans:

Over the past few months, three novels by women writers--all set in the greater Southwest--have landed on my reading stack. The three are very different stories, but all feature strong female characters and evocative stories and landscapes. They're all very much worth a read!

Bittersweet, by Susan Wittig Albert

At Kent Haruf's memorial service in Salida a few months ago, the Wyoming writer Mark Spragg told a story he had heard Kent tell that struck a chord with me. I recently found that story again in "The Making of a Writer," a memoir-essay Kent wrote for the magazine Granta.

If you've ever finished a big project of whatever sort, one that took months or years, and required a kind of intensity and focus that left you feeling hulled out at the end of each day, you know something of what I'm feeling after sending my new memoir, the story I call Bless the Birds off to my agent last Monday.

Welcome to my every-so-often mid-week posts highlighting books on my reading stack. Some are books I've sought out, some come to me for review, and others are gifts.

The first one straddles the zone between science writing, nature journal, and memoir. That reach makes for a fascinating read.

When I go looking for a new read, the proliferation of books is sometimes simply overwhelming. So when I discovered these two indie projects by authors I knew through previous work, I wanted to share them with you.

The past week was a hard one—one friend lost her adult son and another friend died suddenly. When life hurts, I am comforted by nature and the community of the land, hence this look at two thoughtful books grown with love—comfort food that nourishes mind, heart and spirit.

The biologist out in the field before being promoted to desk work and people-management. The biologist out in the field before being promoted to desk work and people-management.

The nights are growing longer, the days colder, and in Salida, a three-day snowstorm dropped almost a foot of snow over the weekend. Time to curl up on the couch in front of the fire and read a book! (And to buy books as holiday presents.) Here are two favorites from the to-review stack on my desk:

I've always been drawn to stories of women who chart their own paths, walking boldly outside the lines we draw in life. On my desk are two such books, equally compelling although the stories couldn't be more different. Here's a peak at each:

Sandra D. Lynn and granddaughter Skye Sandra D. Lynn and granddaughter Skye

Last Wednesday morning, on my long drive to Western Washington, I stopped to check email in Spanish Fork on Utah's Wasatch Front, between spearing peaks and sprawling suburbs.

Normally, I'm a voracious and eclectic reader. Right now, with two intense writing projects, plus consulting on the launch of a new program on landscaping for wildlife, finish carpentry at this house and beginning construction of the new one, at the end of my workday, I go to bed.

Still, I do have some great books on my to-read stack. Here are three capsule reviews of three books I enjoyed so much I wanted to share them with you.

Sandhill cranes flying over a marsh, Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado

Two extraordinary hand-made books have landed on my desk recently, one printed conventionally but written in the author's fluid calligraphy and illustrated from her field-journals, and the other entirely hand-made, even the paper.

Rhymes With Orange, Copyright Hilary B. Price