Well, it’s that time of the book cycle again:  The days after releasing a book when the busy hamster that powers my brain is still churning his little legs frantically, but there’s a big sadistic hand preventing the hamster-wheel from turning. 

My poor brain-hamster dashes up the side of the unmoving wheel only to plop unceremoniously to the bottom and start all over again, panting and wheezing. I wish the stupid little rodent would just give up and stagger over to curl up in the shavings for a snooze.

But, no.  During the day I rocket from one task to the next, trying to catch up on all the things I left undone during the final publishing push.  I’m tired and ready to sleep by the end of the day; but unfortunately, hamsters are nocturnal. 

As soon as my body gets horizontal, the hamster-wheel in my head accelerates to warp-speed, spitting out to-do lists and urgent reminders of upcoming deadlines both real and imagined.  (I’m pretty sure that’s what’s been causing the squeaking noise I hear in my head at night.  Or possibly I have bats in my belfry.)

But Book 16 should be released in paperback sometime in the next week or so, and I’ll start to recover from “hamster-brain”. And my usual spring gardening frenzy should ease off in a couple of weeks, too. Then I’ll take some time to rest and let my starved brain gorge on some new reading before I start plotting Book 17.

Which means… I NEED BOOKS! 

Any suggestions? My ideal binge-read would be a thriller series with humour in it, but I’ll read just about any fiction if the characters are likeable and it gives me a chuckle.  (And no killing off the good guys!) Thrillers, mysteries, cozies, sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, mashups of any of the above; you name it, I’ll read it.  I’m not big on horror, mostly because “funny” and “horror” rarely overlap. Romance, women’s fiction, and chick lit aren’t really my thing, either; but I do occasionally read in those genres.

So if there’s a book (or better still, a series) you love, please mention it in the comments below. I’d appreciate any recommendations you can offer!  (Book recommendations and/or advice on how to wean my brain-hamster off its addiction to exercise.)  😉

65 thoughts on “Hamster-Brain

  1. Sorry, no help at all from me. The book review I just published on my blog is not your style at all, though I hope others read it. My Librarian daughter helped me edit it and said it sounded so good. I offered to buy her a copy but she said she has 24 books piled on her night table and 12 more on the floor. I know the feeling tooo well. Looking for more pictures of your garden and flowers soon.
    Hamster-brain plagues a great many people. I hope you get some sleep. What dreams may come…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’ve been slowly winding down this week and sleep is becoming my friend again.

      I had to chuckle at your daughter’s ‘24 + 12′ situation. If I only had 36 books in my to-read pile, I’d be feeling anxious because that’s only 9 – 12 days of dedicated reading for me. Mind you, I rarely have a chance to just sit and read all day; but still, it could happen. And if it did…

      NEED… MORE… BOOKS…! 😉


  2. Hi, I’ve been a happy lurker here for quite a while; I love your gang of correspondent fans, and I love your novels. I can second many of the earlier recommendations here, and I’ve a list of new authors to try too, thank you!

    I just can’t resist recommending any series by the author Amanda M. Lee. https://smile.amazon.com/Amanda-M-Lee/e/B00B522Z32?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1622258791&sr=1-2
    I started reading her Wicked Witches of the Midwest series, then the Aisling Grimlock series about a family of grim reapers. By this time I’ve read most of her series: Mystic Caravan, Covenant College, Charlie Rhodes, and a bunch more. Actually, here is her website: https://www.amandamlee.net/ You’ll see she is prolific—she started as a newspaper reporter. She keeps me entertained and laughing while I’m waiting for you and Jana DeLeon to come through. 🙂✨

    My garden in Seattle is blooming too. Are we lucky or what? Love from your admiring fan, Marcella

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marcella! It’s always great to ‘meet’ a happy lurker. 😉 I love all my commenters, too — the comments are the best part of my blog!

      Amanda M. Lee sounds awesome, and I’ll definitely check her out. Nothing makes me happier than a prolific author with great work, especially if she’s funny.

      And I agree we’re incredibly lucky to be West-Coast-ers. I was thinking that very thing as I was drinking my morning tea outside this morning, smelling the perfume of flowers on the breeze. Thank you so much for your book recommendation, and for taking the time to comment!


    • I’m a Robert Asprin / Patricia Briggs fan, too! And I’ll definitely check out Anne Bishop, Faith Hunter, and RJ Blain. I’m so excited to have so many great book recommendations — thanks! 🙂


  3. Diane I can imagine your brain is a whirring blur after working so hard to get #16 to publishing. I do hope you get to the point of relaxing. Have you read The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aaah, the busy brain! I think it’s called “monkey brain”. It’s so annoying that it can’t just go to sleep at night, I agree. And, when our bodies finally do fall asleep, the brain is still causing havoc in action-packed dreams. Never a dull moment. I guess that’s good for something.

    I can recommend a book for you, Diane. It’s a bit different than what you mention in your list, but I do think you’ll enjoy the read as it is written in a compelling way that pulls you in and makes you keep turning the pages. Not much humor, per se, but there are ironic and sarcastic moments. I suggest you check out the blurb and read the first three chapters for free, if you’re still in doubt.

    I’m talking about my own travel memoir: Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary. I realize it might not be your thing, but other people I know – who never read memoirs – have been pleasantly surprised by this one and loved it. 🙂 many reviewers also state that it reads like fiction. Just a thought.

    I’ll give you the landing page on my blog, which has more information: https://www.roamingabout.com/about-plunge/. The book is available on Amazon Canada as well, but for some reason, I don’t see the eBook version on there. Sigh.

    Happy weekend!


    • Hi Liesbet! I’m so glad you’re getting positive responses to your book — that must feel really good after all your hard work of writing and publishing.
      Congratulations, and a happy weekend to you, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As well as being an ardent follower of your books, just love Ayden and all her quirky side thoughts, I have also enjoyed BV Lawson’s books. There are two series, one featuring Scott Draco a detective and former concert pianist who has an unusual way of solving crimes – he has synesthesia which adds another dimension to the routine police procedural processes. The other features Beverly Laborde who is an headstrong ex con who lands in Vermont ready to set right some wrongs but when she meets policeman Adam Dutton, things don’t go to plan with some funny and twisted scenarios. Bless, Adam doesnt know whether to arrest or kiss her at times – Steal Away is the first in the series.
    Love JD Robb books and the In Death series set in slightly in the future, started re-reading her books whilst waiting for my favourite authors (ahem) to release their new books.
    LJ Ross, a local author bases her books in Northumberland in the UK, which features a handsome policeman Ryan (think John Kane) who unravels many weird plots and keeps you guessing until the last few chapters, first book is Holy Island.
    Try a glass of something scrummy before bed, it may help to oil your hamster wheel 🙂


    • Ah, there’s a thought. And even if it doesn’t help me sleep, at least I’ll be lying there with a smile on my face. 😉

      Your recommendations sound really cool — I love anything with a bit of a twist. Must go and check them out now! Thanks!


  6. I tend to read history books, so that might not work, but you might try two, “A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World,” it’s got a great plot twist at the end.
    My wife just finished reading, “The Thursday Murder Club.” Given the laughs I hear from her, it might be worth it.

    and if you want to shut your brain down, I recommend heavy lifting. I find when my back hurts enough I don’t think about anything else.
    my other go to is rereading Milton’s Paradise Lost and actually try to understand it. Fries my brain every time.


    • The Thursday Murder Club sounds like a good one — I’ll check it out!

      Heavy lifting is one of those things that seems like a good idea at the time; and it works as long as I don’t do it too late in the day. Otherwise, it just revs me up so I can stare wide-eyed at the bedroom ceiling while my brain-hamster runs laps, instead of lying quietly with my eyes closed while my brain-hamster runs laps. It’s a small distinction, but an important one.

      But I definitely think you’re onto something with Paradise Lost. If you’ve read the whole thing even once, you have my undying respect.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It has been a long time since I have read these books and I only got to read a few in the series but I quite enjoyed the Arly Hanks Mystery Series by Joan Hess. The protagonist, Arly Hanks, is a police chief in a small Ozark town with a lot of oddball characters. I think there are 16 books in the series.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hey. I feel for your hamster brain. Let help you exhaust it.
    Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, about another layer of London fire those who fall thru’ the cracks of this one. Or anything by a favourite author.
    Lyndsey Buroker. Her Dragon Blood series is a particular favourite. Arrogant dragon, sassy swords, magical people. Great characters. There are 8 in this series I think and a following series about a new set of characters, mostly. Set 3yrs after the first series.
    Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness is the 1st of a 3 books. It’s about how Creatures; Vampires, Witches and Daemons live in plain sight of us humans and has a Romeo and Juliet tale at its core. Or it’s about racial prejudice and genocide, depending who’s telling you. Made into a fabulous 3 season series TV show (but the books are still better.)
    If asked I would have said I was a witch, but Harkness has proved without a doubt, for better or worse, I’m a daemon. Oh well. Which creature are you?
    My recommendations for what they’re worth. Happy reading, whatever you land on. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome — thank you! Coincidentally, I just picked up the first book in Lindsay Buroker’s Dragon Blood series, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ve read and enjoyed other books by her, so I’m looking forward to it. And now I have to go and find out which of Deborah Harkness’s creatures I am! 🙂


  9. Jana Deleon and Jodi Taylor. Both hilarious to the point of laying down the Nook to recover. One has a kick ass CIA assassin hiding out in a small town in LA. The other is time travel British style. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Have you tried Jana DeLeon? I love her stuff and the Miss Fortune series makes me laugh out loud and I get strange looks from my husband. I also have her Ghost-in Law series also very funny. JD Robb for great reading and there are about 53 in the series and every time a new one comes out I start from book 1 again, I also do the same with yours and a few others. You can take away me sweets, crisps, chocolates and coffee but touch my books, well you better run and hide and really really hope that I don’t catch you.

    I hope your spring is warmer than here in Scotland where it is much colder than is normal.


    • I LOVE the Miss Fortune series! The instant Jana DeLeon releases a new one in the series, I gobble it up. I loved her Ghost-in-Law series, too. And I completely agree with your stance on books: I’m pretty easy-going most of the time, but don’t touch my books! Or my tools. Those are off-limits, too. 😉

      We’ve been having a lovely spring so far. We’ve only lived on the West Coast for four years, so it seems as though this was an unusually early, warm spring; but for each of the previous three years, the locals have told us that the weather has been unseasonably cool. So fingers crossed — maybe this was a “normal” spring. Our baby rhododendrons are putting on a show!


  11. Obviously I love a good series. However, after reviewing my library offerings, it’s amazing how many of the books/series I read seem to fall under the “chic-lit” category. Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series, Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden Series, Karen Marie Moning’s Faefever series(the first five books), JDRobb’s In Death Series, Debra Webb’s Faces of Evil series…. it’s also interesting that, of the strong female leads in these books, most of them are involved with men who are, physically, very like John Kane, lol! Oh well. Good luck on the book hunt! Looks like you have some great options offered up so I hope it encourages your hamster to take a few nights off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, MIchelle! I didn’t realize Stephanie Plum and JD Robb counted as ‘chick lit’ — if that’s the case, then I like a lot more chick lit than I thought I did. I sometimes get a little frustrated with Stephanie’s terminal lack of a character arc, but I still enjoy the books. Lula and Grandma Mazur are the best!

      I’m looking forward to checking out your other recommendations, too. Hmmm, maybe Never Say Spy should be classified as ‘chick lit’…? 😉


      • I think I need to start re-reading what I type before I hit “post”. Of everything in my library, these(along with yours) are my favorites and I don’t consider them chick-lit. But I do have a penchant for Regency Romance/Mysteries that fall firmly in that category and I keep forgetting how many of them I have. Definitely a guilty pleasure of mine, lol.


  12. My life lately feels like I’m in a three-legged hamster horror film! OK maybe not quite so bad, but it’s like we get a break with some warm weather and I’m finding more tasks to complete outdoors. Then my hamster-sized brain thinks it wants me to buy another project car (or truck) to work on, when I already have two daily drivers and a spare car, along with kiddo’s car, that need various items done.

    There’s this one book series about this Canadian redhead who gets into some sort of brainwave-driven network and…naaah, forget it, you’ve probably heard about that one already.

    But there were two cop/sci-fi series I read that your books reminded me of. You may have even read one of them. One was William Shatner’s “Tek” series of books. I need to reread them to remember the exact plots, but part of the premise is similar to the brainwave-driven network. In his novels, Tek is an illegal, mind-altering technological “chip” drug that creates a virtual reality in the person’s mind. The protagonist was a former cop who was sentenced to the “freeze” due to being caught with Tek, but revived by a detective agency to work on a case. (Going from rusty memory here.) Tekwar and Teklords are the first two in the series. And Shatner surprised me at how good he could write fiction. These should still all be relatively easy to find.

    There are two other books I read that were authored by Mel Odom, untypical of his other works. These two were technically not part of a series, but the second book makes reference to the first, and the environments and premises are similar. They’re both “cop” novels (each one has a different protagonist cop), but part of the crimes take part in cyberspace. I haven’t read them since the 90s either, so I remember them being exciting reads but don’t remember the exact details of the plots. Part of the premise was that the cop had a chip inside his head that he used to communicate, which was also how they hopped into cyberspace to track down the antagonists. All I saw on Amazon were used paperback copies of both of these books.

    Back in the 90s, I also was reading a few Fantasy series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. There was the Rose of the Prophet series, the Death Gate cycle (7 long novels!), and Margaret Weis’ Star of the Guardian series (which also mixed in a bit of sci-fi). The Death Gate cycle almost got a bit tedious to read, but the imaginations of both authors left my mind reeling. Makes me wonder what kind of drugs it would require to make up imagery like that! 😁 The first four or five set up the back stories of four or five individual worlds (which had some sort of device that linked them together), and the remaining novels tied these worlds’ stories together.

    Most everything else I read these days are biographies. I’m working through one right now that is so packed with dates, places and people that I can only read it in small chunks before I have to take a break.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, the biography sounds like quite a project. I have enough trouble keeping my own family tree straight; I wouldn’t like to have to wade through somebody else’s. 😉

      I used to read a lot of the Star Trek novels William Shatner wrote, but I can’t remember reading Tek. Now I’ll have to go and look it up. Thanks for the other recommendations, too – they all sound promising!


      • The biography is for an article series I’m writing, and seeing it’s about a musician, there are dates of gigs, recording sessions, record contracts, numerous personnel changes in the various bands, all covering a span of nearly 35 years. And the writing is kind of dry on top of it. Very long chapters, with no section breaks. (Although I wonder how much of that is Kindle formatting.) There’s a lot of information I never knew, but if I had to take a test on it, I don’t think I’d get very high marks on it. The author obviously had access to a lot of recordkeeping. The second edition of this book was expensive enough on Kindle ($35-ish…that’s like $600 Canadian?), as the print run was only 150 copies. I can’t say the book has directly affected what I’m writing (I’m not rewriting a bio, in other words), but some of the personnel and recording dates are helping with what I’m working on.

        One bio I could recommend for you would be a book by Stan Cornyn–it’s a crazy account of his years working in promotion at Warner Brothers Records. Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group. He began by writing some humorous liner notes for some of the records in the 60s. I normally wouldn’t recommend a bio, but he is such an entertaining and often hilarious author, with a cast of characters that many of us know (I mean, how can we resist an account of Freddie Mercury and Brian May of Queen fighting over eyeliner? 😁) that it makes for a great read.


        • Oh, that sounds hilarious! I occasionally read biographies, too. I really enjoyed Pat Benatar’s ‘Between a Heart and a Rock Place’. It was a fascinating look at her life and the music scene, which was not kind to women in the 1970s (nor ever, I guess; although I hope it’s improving these days).


          • That reminds me…the late drummer from Rush, Neil Peart, was a good author as well. He’s written a series of travelogues, one of which was about his coming to terms with the deaths of his daughter and his first wife–Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. I believe Traveling Music was about a Rush tour, and his motorcycle journeys between the appearances, as another of them may be. If you visit his site, neilpeart dot net, look under News for a series of blog posts he made–very much in the same style as his books. (There is a “Select a Story” bar near the top where we can choose which item to read.) The two posts about the Lemon Slug are especially good since it covers his two appearances at the 24 Hours of Lemons (basically described by its founder as “a thick scrum of crapcans”…basically, junkers on a limited budget in an endurance race, with some ridiculous rules and an even more ridiculous trophy). He’s a descriptive writer, which is what I like for this type of topic.

            BTW, one of my bucket list items is to take part in the Lemons Rally, a spinoff of 24 Hours of Lemons–it’s not as budget-limited, but involves taking older (possibly decrepit) cars on a journey. One rally this year, the Rust Belt Ramble, is passing right through my area. If I could get my old ’97 turd roadworthy again, it’d be a perfect candidate…even though I’d be docked points for having a Japanese vehicle (see, they’re too reliable to be in this type of race 😁). I think it’d be fun, if only my kiddo could join me as a relief driver. And it’d make great fodder for writing up as an article of my own…


            • I just spent FAR too much time on Neil Peart’s site. What an interesting guy!

              The Lemons Rally would be an absolute blast! If I still had my beloved ’98 Saturn, that would be a perfect outing for it. Sadly, I gave it to a relative four years ago, and shortly thereafter it committed suicide by tranny explosion. I still feel guilty about that; not because of the inconvenience to the relative, but because my poor little car died alone after serving me faithfully for 18 years. I shoulda been there with it at the end. *sigh*


              • It’s funny how we get attached to cars. I’ve had this ’97 CR-V since new. It’s well past its sell-by date, and rust has really done a number on it, but I’ve had so memories that it’s hard to get rid of it. But I figure that rather than sell it to a salvage yard (the automotive equivalent of an organ donor), some parts and elbow grease could get it moving on one last heroic run. It wasn’t as sad as my ’92 Civic, which was cut short on life after eight years at the hands of my ex. (Got rear-ended two blocks from our neighborhood.)

                Peart’s writing is addicting! I knew he wrote all the Rush lyrics, but his writing style is very colorful. I have to see if I’ve missed any of his books. Glad you enjoyed his site…and *I* am glad it’s still up there!

                Liked by 1 person

  13. For humour the Matchmaker series by Elise Sax, Lexi Graves by Chamila Chafer, Charlie Davies by Clare Kauter. Drama-Sydney Rye series by Emily Kimelman, Sydney Brennan by Judy K. Walker. SOOOO many more-if you like paranormal check out PWF category-midaged women with extra powers-Shannon Davies series is really good or KF Breene

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Diane If you like historical spy fiction, my favorite go to for WWII era Eastern European stuff, it’s hard to beat Alan Furst. He is in the Eric Ambler/Graham Greene mode. If you like hard-boiled detective stuff that will occasionally make you laugh out loud, try the Amos Walker series by Loren Estleman. Keep smilin Duane (aka Uncle Dewey)

    Sent from my iPhone



  15. I adore anything written by Fredrik Backman. The latest of his that I read was Anxious People. A very serious topic (suicide) with splashes of humour and lashings of charm.
    On the mystery front? Laurie R King’s series focusing on Sherlock Holme’s wife. Or any of the Miss Seeton series (thinking an elderly yoga practicing gentlewoman whose artistic talents assist Scotland yard…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Try Apocalypse du Jour by Richard Jurmain. He describes it as a techno-thriller, I add with a sci-fi overlay and plenty of humor. Strong female characters, especially a couple of older women. As I read your list of qualifications, this checks most of your boxes. (Warning – I can’t stand the cover, but loved the book.) https://smile.amazon.com/Apocalypse-du-Jour-Richard-Jurmain-ebook/dp/B07MYM9DQM/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Apocalypse+du+jour&qid=1622050278&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Liliana Hart’s 8 book Addison Holmes mystery series. Laugh out loud funny, two gorgeous men competing for her, bumbling investigator, outrageous friends, 90 year old aunt a spy who fought Nazis, etc. Just re-read the whole series. Reminded me of your Spy series in many ways and just as well-written and enjoyable!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. My favorite book of all time is “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller. The first time I read the thing was in 1962 while I was still in the Navy, flying as an aircrewman on the P2V-7 Neptune warplane. As I read it I could match many of the characters in the book with people in my squadron. Hilarious.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. The inspector montalbano series are great, Italian cop but no mafia crimes. There are 28 books in the series, unfortunately the author dies last year but I love his books.

    Sue grafton the alphabet series unfortunately again she died before we got to z. But there are 25.

    I’d recommend another author I love but I’m not sure you’d want to read them, somehow reading your own books might not be the break you want.

    I recommend the above three if anyone is ever looking for a good read.

    Oh also m c Beaton as well she wrote Agatha rasin and hamish macbeath I guess she is more cozy crime than thrillers

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, BIG series, woohoo! Thanks for those, I’ll check them out. I just love getting into a long series with great characters!

      And thank you for the compliment, too — you’re right, reading my own books isn’t quite as relaxing. 😉


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