Apologies up front how long it has been since the blender last got an update. I had a hell of a year last year, and had to focus on my work and my health. I hope to be much better going forward about making regular updates to the blender, to make sure that not only do new titles get added but I continue to add older titles that exemplify interesting blends.
Since the last update, I have added over 200 titles, mostly published in 2015 and 2016. Here are some of my favorite titles among those newly added to the database. The bulk of what I tend to add seems to trend toward science fiction and fantasy blends. One reason for this bias is that I read those genres for review, and just come across the blends most often. But I also think some of the most interest blends are happening in the speculative fiction genres. These are genres that just naturally like to take narrative risks. But there are plenty of blends of all genres that are new to the blender.
Historical mystery is one of the most popular blends, to the point where it is usually considered a genre of its own. There are plenty of historical mysteries published every year, but I have included a few that were very well-reviewed and brought something new to the genre. Two that I would draw attention to are The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter, set in 1930s India, and Girl Waits with Gun set in 1914 New Jersey. There’s also the bonus blend of A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain, which adds a time-traveling FBI agent.
Another blend that takes up a sizable market share of its genre is historical romance. Regencies still dominate the historical romance scene, and I’ve added a few great ones, including The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean. But there are other eras to explore, like the Gilded Age New York setting of Joanna Shupe’s Magnate. I also beefed up Romance/Adrenaline (aka romantic suspense) with titles like Virtue Falls by Christina Dodd, an example of a book that is not new, but new to the blender.
Horror edges into other genres in interesting ways, bringing its monsters and its sense of dread. A couple of good historical horror novels got added, notably Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff that looks at a family in the Jim Crow-era South and their encounters with the occult. And If you like your horror with the excitement of a heist thriller, I offer up The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp and promise you will thank me.
There’s a lot of ways to mix it up in SF. One of my favorite ways is to add a mystery, and there are a few new SF/Mystery blends in the blender, including The Ark by Patrick S. Tomlinson (locked room-type mystery on a generation ship). Depth, by Lev A.C. Rosen brings the noir to a drowned New York, and The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel offers a murder on a colony with a bonus romance. If you want SF with the pacing of a thriller, I highly recommend The Fold by Peter Cline about a man looking into a research team who claim to have figured out teleportation or Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel about the discovery of an alien artifact.
Oh so many fantasy blends. If you like it historical, try the regency set Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho or Prohibition era A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly. A bumper crop of weird west have been added like Silver on the Road by Laura Ann Gilman. And if you want mystery mixed in (and it is my biggest category), you could sample some great urban fantasies like Borderline by Mishell Baker or a rural take on an urban fantasy with Charlaine Harris’s Midnight Crossroad. Epic fantasy can get blendy too, as evidenced by the terrific City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, which combines great worldbuilding and a mystery.
Of course there is plenty more to explore, with the blender now topping 725 titles. I hope it continues to be of use to those who like their fiction mixed, crossed, bended, and blended. Enjoy!