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Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for Sep. 24
By Maria Korolov and Amira Loutfi
Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books?
The list changes constantly — authors set their books to free temporarily to promote their work, and, of course, books move up and down in the rankings. But are any of the books actually worth reading? Well, I read the first few chapters of each to find out, so you don’t have to.
This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So if you’re a fan of free books, it looks like there are going to be new things to read all the time.
I’ve noticed that if you try to open the list on a mobile device, it will take you to the listings that cost money, instead. I’ve found that by switching to the “desktop site” in the mobile browser, the free list comes up.
Oh, and if there’s a book that catches your eye, grab it quickly, since the books are often free for only a short time. And, Amazon allows you to lend your e-books, for free, to your friends. Even free e-books. Here are the instructions.
Most of these books are the first book in the series, and in each case, I’ve checked to see whether the rest of the books are free as well, or whether they’re in Kindle Unlimited. Learn more about Kindle Unlimited here.
The list is accurate as of the time of writing but may have changed since the story was posted.
1. Super Colossal Reacher Universe Bundle by Jude Hardin
This is a giant box set of books set in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher universe. Jack Reacher himself isn’t in these – they focus on some new characters, and some supporting characters from the original series.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of the Jack Reacher books. They’re total wish-fulfilment: a guy with no ties and a very special set of skills travels around the country by bus, carrying nothing but a toothbrush, sleeping with beautiful, capable women, and killing everyone who gets in his way. What’s not to like?
Okay, Child’s books can be a little problematic, when you think about them too much, but you can’t deny that the stories are intense. You can’t put them down. I read each new book the minute it comes out.
So why is this box set on the list? The original books, after all, don’t really have any sci-fi in them.
But one of the things this box set contains is seven of the nine books in The Jack Reacher Experiment series, which are about a guy who’s a clone of the original Jack Reacher.
Okay, so spin-off series by different authors are rarely as good as the originals. But I’ve got to say, I like Jude Hardin’s writing style. It’s a little cheesy, but then again, so’s the premise of all these books. They’re a little more over-the-top compared to the original Jack Reachers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I’m keeping this whole set at the top of my Kindle.
2. Royal Factions Box Set by W. J. May
This is the first three of six books in the Royal Factions series of young adult fantasy. The other books are $3.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
In this kingdom, the queen has her royal guard kidnap the most beautiful teenagers from the provinces around the capital. The book is reminding me a little of the Hunger Games, with its cruel dictator, kids being ripped away from their families, and a dramatic divide between the wealth and magic of the capital and the extreme poverty in the countryside.
Except here, instead of being forced to fight each other to the death, the young people are claimed as sex slaves by the ruling classes.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like the kind of book that would appeal to me, but the writing is extremely compelling and I quickly got caught up in the story. I care about what happens to the protagonist, and the other youths who were kidnapped along with her.
3. When the Red Wolf Runs by Kody Boye
This is the first of five books in The Red Wolf Saga paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
The book is set in the near future, the early 2030s, and there are no more wolves in Texas, at least according to Oaklynn’s high school presentation.
The book cover gave me big Twilight vibes, and the opening scene, filled with high school drama, didn’t put my mind at ease. Just to be clear, I don’t like Twilight.
If you like Twilight, you might like this series.
But I’m finding it a little problematic. First, the last thing I want to do with my free time is spend it back in high school. Second, the protagonist spends a little too much time worrying about things. Also, she’s clumsy and awkward. Then she sees a red wolf while walking home, but doesn’t believe her eyes. And a hot young guy moves in across the street, and she immediately falls in love.
So she annoys me a hundred different ways.
The only thing I want to do is wave my old-lady cane at her and yell something about getting off my lawn.
4. A Defender Rises by T. R. Cameron
This is the first of eight books in the Magic City Chronicles urban fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Rube is back home from college, she just finished a master’s in engineering and magic. She’s visiting her home town in Nevada, where her elf parents own a casino. She’s spent her life pretending she doesn’t have magic when she witnesses a robbery and steps in to protect the innocent.
She uses her magic, and her martial arts skills. I like her interactions with the casino employees and the cops that show up afterwards. She’s capable, is careful not to do too much damage, and smart.
And the setting is fun. Ely is a town not far from Las Vegas where magic is in the open and there are all kinds of cool magical artifacts around. Plus, there’s a mystery — why did Ruby’s parents want her to hide her magic, when the other elves don’t?
I like this book very much, and look forward to reading the series.
5. Alpha Wolf by Emma Dean
This is the first of five books in The Blue Mountain Wolf Pack paranormal romance series. The other books are $2.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited. The last book is scheduled to be released next May.
From Maria Korolov:
The book starts right out with a sex scene, right in the first sentence. Dirty, dirty sex. Then Amelia, our female protagonist, kicks the guy out.
Yes! Use them and lose them, that’s my motto. Or maybe, grab them, then stab them. Maybe I should talk to my therapist about that.
So, when not picking up guys in clubs, Amelia works in a publishing house in Portland. She likes going to cafes and drinking expensive coffee. Then, a few days later, that same guy from the club shows up at the cafe. Again, she sends him packing.
Then he shows up again at a bookstore. The guy is stalking her, following her via her social media posts. She tells him she doesn’t want to date him. She tells him that she’s not attracted to him. But he talks her into having dinner with him.
Stick to your guns, woman!
And she gets on the back of his motorcycle. No!
Okay, I can’t keep reading the book if I have to stop and scream at her every two paragraphs.
6. Starshine by G. S. Jennsen
This is the first of 17 books in Amaranthe space opera series. The other books are $0.99 to $5.99 each. The eleventh book, Exin Ex Machina, is also free. The last book is scheduled to be released this October.
From Amira Loutfi:
This one has 4.5 stars and over a thousand reviews … So I wonder if this is actually fantastic or if the author just has a thousand friends willing to support her? Some people are like that, you know.
From the cover, this looks like a space opera. The author’s website sports anonymous reviews claiming this author is bringing change to science fiction … hmmm …
The first scene is in an Earth Alliance building. A man is asking an alien about the end of the world and a woman who seems to have threatened the alien. He offers to kill the woman. The alien refuses, saying her death would only draw more attention. The “Senecans” are also causing a complication. They are sending out “others” to investigate … something. I don’t know, it’s still not clear at this point. I’m only on page two.
Guests are arriving. For what? I don’t know. But there is a garden on the bottom floor, and the two conversing can see it from up above. Kinda cool structure they are in. Can I assume they are in a spaceship?
He seems like a bad guy, telling the alien that he can “stall them,” likely referring to the Seneca. And that all of humanity will be distracted.
Humanity and distraction? This just got real.
The alien warns him that “preparations” are underway. And I still don’t know what they’re talking about. Just that they seem like the bad guys. So like maybe this scene means that one of the leaders of the Earth Alliance is in cahoots with a bad alien. And the alien has secrets to keep from humanity, the Seneca — and especially that woman.
I did not entirely enjoy that prologue. Maybe it was too much mystery for my taste. But it was still fun, and certainly created an interesting world.
Alex arrives at a port in her ship and an old friend of her parents greets her. He immediately thinks she looks a lot like her father. He came out to bring her a message from her mother – which is just a request to visit her. Alex is resistant, but goes anyway.
She has an ocular implant which shows her messages, and there are self-driving skycars.
While they’re on their way to see Alex’s mother, Richard tells her that there is a Trade Summit coming up between the Earth Alliance and the Senecan Trade Director.
The story is great so far. It’s clear why others like it so much — the sci-fi world-building is strong. I also feel curious about the mother and how Alex will prove relevant to the story. But I won’t be back.
7. Luxure/Kadedus by E. L. Haining
This is the first two of four books in The Cardinal Brotherhood paranormal romance series. The other books are $.99 to $3.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited. The last book is scheduled to be released next June.
From Amira Loutfi:
This author also has books out called “A very Fumbling Merry Christmas” and “Mustang Christmas,” and “A Christmas to Remember.” I think that’s unique? Most people I know don’t write books about Christmas.
I like a powerful opening, and this one is pretty cool —
In the Uitare plane, time means nothing to me. I can manipulate it to suit my desires, and anyone who knows me knows I always suit my fucking desires. I don’t give a shit about anyone else.
Woah! The point of view character in this prologue is one of the seven deadly sins! He says that the seven deadly sins are a “cover up” for something. And “the truth” is that the seven deadly sins are demon brothers who wreak havoc on the earth. I like how quickly the author just lets us figure out what’s going on.
The point of view character is Luxure, aka Lux, aka Lust.
He is trying to transport out of danger with his girlfriend, who seems like a real sweetie. And then he lost her. Lucifer took her! So he confronts Lucifer who insists that his girlfriend had to go because she betrayed the team and she was making him weak. He needs Lust to be a strong servant.
Lust refuses and then Satan sics his “Vollstrecker” on him — I’m not sure what that is but they are dangerous! Lust does his magical transportation thing again and vows to avenge his mate.
This story is fast-paced and fun. I like it. I probably won’t come back, though.
8. The Fire Prophecy by Megan Linski
This is the first of six books in the Hidden Legends: Academy of Magical Creatures series of romantic young adult urban fantasy. The other books are $7.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
There is a character with a rare disease in this book. I wonder how that ties in. The cover looks like a lot of fun — a gorgeous young girl with an electric orb about her, a feline-looking creature peeking out of her right armpit, glowing purple flecks, a castle, and two dragons! That’s a lot for one cover!
It’s another magical school book.
Liam comes from a magical world with dragons and elemental magic. He’s angry. He has water magic, but lost interest in it. He says he’s on the brink of life and death. He is different from how he used to be — ever since the thing occurred. There is a lot of mystery in this prologue.
Sisters Sophia and Amelia are hiking. Amelia just graduated college and got a job on a cruise ship and Sophia is about to start college. She doesn’t know what she wants to major in. It’s getting a little dark and suddenly, Amelia gets spooked. She grabs Sophia without explaining.
The two sisters make a mad scramble for the car. In the car, Sophie doesn’t explain anything, but then suddenly decides to stay instead of run away. She gets out of the car and yells out to someone named “Naomi.”
It’s a giant cat.
It attacks Amelia. Sophia fights it. A burst of fire shoots out of her. And they both run back into the car. That’s how we find out that Sophia has fire magic.
Amelia tells Sophia that their parents always said that she was adopted — and that she was human. The rest of the family has water magic.
Liam walks around the magic school castle, and meets the dean, who has a giant dragon familiar. Ah, and now we learn that the giant cat Naomi is the familiar of Madame Doya, one of the deans.
I’m guessing that the elder sister went to this school, upset Madame Doya, and is not really going to work on a cruise ship.
Why were the parents trying to keep her magic from her? Clearly they didn’t want her going to magic school, right?
The viewpoint character switches between Sophia and Liam, so I’m guessing they will fall in love. Or else it’ll be some variation of a buddy-cop movie!
There is a prophecy about a powerful fire witch who is hidden. Liam is charged with going to find her. This will help his social standing with the other elemental magicians. It also might explain why there had to be so much secrecy in Sophia’s family.
I can see why others like it. It’s cute and uses a lot of elements from the first Harry Potter book.
9. Rebirth by Christopher Russell
This is the author’s first full-length novel, the first epic fantasy in what promises to be a series set in the Divinity’s Twilight world.
The book won the Ozma grand prize last year for fantasy.
From Amira Loutfi:
We begin with a battle scene where everything is burning. There are powerful folks above who watch. It takes place in a medieval fantasy world, Lozaria, which has six sentient races. One of them is Terran.
Darmatus and Rabban are Terran brothers. They are fighting within the Alliance of Five. Rabban says that Darmatus should be king after they win the battle since they are defeating their other brother. If Darmatus doesn’t accept being king, then the other races will start fighting over power.
I say Rabban himself ought to go for it.
Darmatus has a temper. He refuses to be king. In the middle of this battle, while his soldiers fight against horrible monsters, Darmatus, Rabban, and his servant discuss whether or not Darmatus should take the throne.
I like this enough.
Darmatus is afraid he’ll become exactly like Sarcon if he takes the throne. He wants to punch his servant in the face.
A heavy magical pressure suddenly hits everyone on the field. It’s hard for Rabban to breathe and many of the men collapse. But then Darmatus handles it with some fire magic. He’s able to wield every type of elemental magic. Now I see why he’s the boss.
Suddenly they see that one of their enemies started some magical process and Darmatus orders the men to stop it. They don’t even know what it is.
This is pretty awesome. It’s sucking me in. I think I will be back.
Personally, I don’t think that Darmatus has to be king, but he should instead support Rabban in being king. That’d be ok with me. But I get a sense that he’s going to become king anyway. I have no idea what will happen next in this story.
10. Rebel Dragon by Steve Turnbull
This is the first of five books in The Dragons of Esternes epic fantasy series. The other books are $2.99 each. All are in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
Kantees is trying to sleep and her animal, Sheesha, keeps bumping the floorboards. They live in a Ziri tower in a castle. Sheesha is a Ziritack, a large feathered man-eating beast. Kantees is a slave and has masters.
Sheesha keeps prodding her to wander down the tower and through the castle. She peers out one of the windows — ah, this is what Sheesha was trying to say. They are under attack and all the guards have been killed, leaving the slaves and everyone else in the castle vulnerable. But it’s still weird to me that the Ziritack wanted to first show Kantees the situation. He could’ve also just flown away with her.
She’s never ridden a Ziritack before. And now he will let her ride him so they can both survive. He can’t fly away without her help. He needed her to open the doors.
So they fly away. And she struggles to control him.
Her goal now is to ring the bell so that the whole castle can wake up and face the attack.
When she lands, they meet a soldier who asks if she is with “Dunor.” He soon realizes she is a slave.
They are both still scared of the Ziritack, but Kantees bluffs about having control over Sheesha, earning herself some influence over the guard. She rings the bell.
This is a good story, but it’s not for me.
Do you have other free books for us to check out? Email me at [email protected].