Sharps, Widow’s Web, and The House with the Clock in Its Walls

NEW: SHARPS by K. J. Parker (Orbit, 2012)

If you haven’t heard of K. J. Parker (I, shamefully, hadn’t), it might be because the author does absolutely no self-promotion. Even after thirteen books, Parker is one of the last totally anonymous pseudonyms. No website. No Facebook. No blog. No hints of who Parker really is. In this hyper-connected age, that thrills me. That mystery, along with the pretty fabulous cover, would be enough to make me pick up this book, but his—or her—rabidly loyal fan base tells us there’s a thrilling punch behind this fairly simple premise:

For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighbouring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money…

Now, there is a chance for peace. Diplomatic talks have begun and with them, the games. Two teams of fencers represent their nations at this pivotal moment.

When the future of the world lies balanced on the point of a rapier, one misstep could mean ruin for all. Human nature being what it is, does peace really have a chance?

A tale as old as time, right? Kyle, a community reviewer on Goodreads, assures us, “The plot sounds pretty straightforward, but this being a KJ Parker novel, there’s at least one person plotting in the background, with the details and implications being slowly revealed as the novel progresses.” Kyle also mentioned that this story is set in the same fantasy universe as all of Parker’s novels, but it’s set in an earlier time period than the rest, so this might be a good book to start with. Stefan, another community reviewer, agrees, “Sharps is equal parts personal and political, emotion and reason, humor and tragedy. It’s also simply one of the most captivating fantasy novels I’ve read all year.”

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why this book is so thoroughly considered fantasy by Amazon and reviewers alike because I see no hint of magic or magical creatures. It’s possible Parker’s world is simply a pre-industrial non-Earth that has no more fairies than our own. Do you know? Please tell me in the comments! And I might just have to read this and tell you myself.

An excerpt of Sharps is available on the publisher website. Order it from these popular booksellers:


SOON: WIDOW’S WEB, Book Seven in the Elemental Assassin series, by Jennifer Estep (Simon & Schuster, August 21 2012)

Set in a fictional Appalachian metropolis, home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals—people who can control the elements—like our heroine, Gin Blanco, cook by day, assassin by night. As Michelle, a community reader on Goodreads, put it, over the last six books, readers have “cried with her, laughed with her, cheered as she defeated the bad guys, commiserated with her as she got her heart broken and finally fell in love as she did with Owen Grayson [in the last novel, By a Thread].” In Widow’s Web, in Gin’s own words:

I used to murder people for money, but lately it’s become more of a survival technique. Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town anyway. Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back, she thinks he’s hers for the taking. Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.

Michelle continued, “The Elemental Assasin series is one of my all time favourite series and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories with a strong kick-ass female. I award Widow’s Web 5 Stars and Jennifer Estep remains on my auto-buy author list!” Shelley, another community reviewer, said, “Oh baby what a story! Estep really threw me for a loop with this one!…The battle between Salina, [the villain], and Gin is classic and the outcome really shakes things up for the series.”

An excerpt of Widow’s Web is available on the author’s website. Look for this book on August 21 or preorder:



Lewis always dreamed of living in an old house full of secret passageways, hidden rooms, and big marble fireplaces. And suddenly, after the death of his parents, he finds himself in just such a mansion—his Uncle Jonathan’s. When he discovers that his big friendly uncle is also a wizard, Lewis has a hard time keeping himself from jumping up and down in his seat. Unfortunately, what Lewis doesn’t bank on is the fact that the previous owner of the mansion was also a wizard–but an evil one who has placed a tick-tocking clock somewhere in the bowels of the house, marking off the minutes until the end of the world. And when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead on Halloween night, the clock only ticks louder and faster. Doomsday draws near—unless Lewis can stop the clock.

Edward Gorey illustrates the story, which might tell you something about how creepy it is. Bellairs doesn’t sugarcoat anything for his intended audience which makes it a great read for grown-ups, too.  Brian said, “This book scared the tar out of me when I was ten. I could barely fall asleep at night but I loved it. I used it as a read aloud to my fourth graders and they would BEG each day to hear more.” John said, “as he continued to write for young people, Bellairs settled into a really nice spooky and magical style, but there is something especially witty and bizzare about this first one that sets it apart.”

The easiest way to read an excerpt of The House With a Clock In Its Walls is to Look Inside on Amazon. Order this book (ebook options not yet available) from these popular booksellers:

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