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Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for Oct. 1
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. Metal Angels by D K Girl
This is the first of four books in The Facility Files series of sci-fi romance. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
The book starts right out with Kira, the protagonist, kicking a male prostitute out of bed. She’s profane, but she tips well. Oh, and she’s a miracle of bioengineering. Her sister, a genius scientist, used alien technology to bring Kira back from brink of death, and a lot of her — including her heart — is made of metal.
When she’s not drinking and sleeping with male whores, she’s a co-owner of a bar and occasionally fills in as a bartender.
She lives in the near future. Cars are fully self-driving. Which is a good thing, since she ended up nearly dying last time she drove and caused a car accident. She also has a stake in the Facility, which is providing housing to a secret group of aliens. One of those aliens is a hot guy named Eron whom Kira has a crush on.
Then we switch to Eron’s point of view. He’s been sent to Earth with his brothers on a religious mission and flubbed one of his duties so he could sneak out of the Facility and go partying with Kira.
I’m confused by the whole religious mission. It’s very convoluted, with multiple gods, mystical space rivers of energy, and weird creatures.
And I’m not a fan of romantic plots told from both the male and female points of view. The book is readable. If I was trapped in a bed-and-breakfast for a weekend and this was the only book on the shelf, I’d happily read it. But given today’s other choices, I don’t think I’ll be coming back to this one.
2. The Fiera Princess by Emilia Finn
This is the first of three books in the Inamorata Series series of romantic fantasy. The other books are $4.99 each but have not been released yet. The second is due out later this month, and the third is due out in February.
From Maria Korolov:
The Lumea empire is more than three million years old, and its people live for hundreds of years. Four hundred years ago, a war with the Xeo killed millions. When Tully King turned eighteen she became a soldier in the Lumea army — and then is destined to become the queen. She will need to learn to control her power to create fire, and to track down any living descendants of the opposing forces and kill them before they kill her.
The book kicks in when Tully is 25. It’s told in the present tense, which is a common style for young adult novels, but which always takes me a little while to get used to.
She’s still getting her military training — she’s learning to fight hand-to-hand, with weapons, how to track, and how to use her powers. She’s also getting a second type of training, in how to be queen, including deportment and history and military strategy and how to use poisons.
The book starts out slow, with a lot of back story and a lot of training, but I’m having trouble figuring out the setting. It’s not a traditional fantasy world — Tully mentions helicopter parents and STDs in the first couple of chapters. But they use hawks for messages and swords as weapons. So I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe Tully wasn’t talking about literal helicopters?
Tully’s grandmother, the current queen, takes an army of ten thousand out into battle, and they get ambushed and everyone is either killed or captured. Now it’s up to Tully to lead her people and save the captives and defeat the enemy. But first, her oldest friend since childhood professes his love for her. I’m annoyed by the relationship drama, by the fact that I’m confused about the setting. I’m also not particularly enthused by Tully herself.
But if you like coming-of-age stories with strong romantic elements, you might like this book.
3. Faite Books by Mary E. Twomey
This is the first three of 14 books in Faite Falling romantic fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 to $5.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Rosie Avalon likes going out to play pool with her best friend Judah after her soccer games. She has scoliosis, dyslexia, and a lazy left eye and a bad case of acne on top of that. She’s in college, and has finals coming up. Also, she can talk to animals.
Then, when leaving the bar after winning a game of pool, she loses the locket that is the only thing she has left of her mother — and which her aunt insists she must never take off.
When she loses the necklace, her eye fixes itself, her acne disappears, the hump on her back goes away, and her flat chest suddenly grows a giant pair of boobs that break her bra.
All of this creates some inconveniences.
She’s sitting under a tree, talking to the squirrels, when a stranger shows up and tries to grab her — and says that she’s the Lost Daughter of Avalon. The squirrels, and Judah, help her fight off the attacker, then two other strangers show up and join the fight. And one of the newcomers kills the first attacker. Then, instead of staying and calling the cops, she accepts a ride from the new guys. They claim that her aunt sent them and tell her that her aunt is Elaine of Avalon. Rosie just knows her as Lane Avalon. And they tell her that the first attacker was sent by Morgan le Fae. And that Morgan le Fae is her mother. And that she’s still alive, and rules over the whole of Avalon, and has been searching for Rosie for evil reasons.
Then, instead of taking her to her job at the pet shop like Rosie expected, they drive her to the gate to Avalon. So when the car slows down, she and Judah open the car door and roll out and start running. They hide in a bookstore and Rosie calls her aunt, who tells them to stay there and hide until she can get there. Then the two guys who tried to kidnap her show up again and grab them.
They talk to her aunt on the phone, and they come to an agreement. The new guys are going to take Rosie to a safe place in Avalon, and the aunt will meet them there.
It’s a strong beginning. I like both Rosie and Judah. The book is extremely readable. Will I come back and finish it? Maybe. It’s a coming of age type of story, and it’s not my preferred genre.
4. Dreck by Alex Grass
From Maria Korolov:
The book is set in a post-apocalyptic future. There’s been a war, and plagues, but civilization is rebuilding, in various weird ways. Frank works as a coroner, when a creepy man-creature is brought in, one that looks like the mythical being the Dreck.
Someone from a governmental agency calls him up. They’ll be by to collect the body once a storm passes. But before the storm is over, someone from the local mayor’s office shows up and says something about jurisdictions and sovereignty and asks Frank to not release the body to that first governmental agency.
Okay, so, the book is awesome. Like, genuinely good. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins a bunch of awards. It’s also very creepy and gruesome. The writing reminds of a bit of China Mieville. It’s philosophical and literary and visceral.
I’m going to come back to this book and read it a lot more carefully, and will probably write a longer, stand-alone review, and see if I can get the author in for a chat on our YouTube channel.
5. Embrace of the Shade by Amanda Muratoff
This is the first of ten books in Pantracia Chronicles fantasy romance series. The other books are $3.99 to $5.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
And now we’re back to more typical fare. Kin is a fighter in the fantasy world called Pantracia, looking for a book about magic ley lines at the Great Library of Capul — but the librarian refuses to let him see the book.
While he’s trying to figure out how to get into the restricted area and find the book himself, someone else comes in, also looking for a restricted book. Amarie is looking for a rare first edition and will need to fill out forms to request permission. While the librarian goes off to fetch the forms, she heads off for the restricted east tower, and Kin follows her.
She spots him, and decides to let him join forces with her. She’d previously stolen a magic key that lets visitors into the forbidden area.
They flirt with each other as each steals the book he or she was after, then split up to make their escape.
Escape is not a foregone conclusion — once they take the stolen books out of the restricted areas, the alarms go off.
It’s a fun action scene, and a fun setting. I like both of the main characters, and am not put off by the romance. I think I’ll keep reading.
6. Dark, Witch & Creamy by H.Y. Hanna
This is the first of seven books in the Bewitched by Chocolate cozy paranormal mystery romance series. The other books are $5.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited. This is the second time the book has made the top ten free ebooks list. We previously reviewed it in June.
From Maria Korolov:
Caitlyn was an abandoned baby, adopted and raised by an American family. As an adult, her search for her roots takes her to a little English village where she meets a handsome local aristocrat, rescues a kitten, and is dragged into a murder investigation. And, oh yes, she’s a witch.
If you’ve been reading my reviews here, you’ll probably know that I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries, so this series is right up my alley. The only thing making me hesistant at all about getting too much into the books is that, at $6 each, I’ll be shelling out $30 to read the rest of the series if I get caught up in it. Is it worth it?
It starts out with Caitlyn and her cousin Pomona eating scones at a tearoom, discussing Caitlyn’s plans to visit the village where she was found, Tillyhenge. But there was just a suspicious death in the village — it’s all over the news — and the local gossips are saying that it’s murder, and that supernatural forces are afoot. Pomona believes in the supernatural, and says she has a bad feeling about the whole thing. Caitlyn poo-poos her and gets in her rental car. Just as she’s about to leave, a old man shows up — he looks to be about a hundred — and tells her that he’s her vampire uncle, Count Victor Drakul. She thinks he’s someone who wandered away from a nursing home, especially when he tries to show her his fangs and they fall out.
But instead of finding someone who can help the delusional old man, such as someone back inside the tearoom, she just drives off. Not cool, Caitlyn. He clearly needed help. Especially because he insisted that he could turn into a bat.
Anyway, Tillyhenge doesn’t show up on GPS, so Caitlyn has to follow a paper map, and trying to find the right turnoff gives her a headache. When she finally gets to the village, she doesn’t know what to do. Turns out, she’s got no plan. Is she going to find a local historical society? The library? A town clerk? The local medical professionals? Nope. Her new plan is to get a room for the night and then wander around randomly talking to people.
But before she can do that, she’s accosted by a photographer. She suspects he’s a paparazzi. Her mother, who just died in a car accident, was famous. She ducks into a shop to get away from him, one of those touristy places that sell various herbal things. Of course, they don’t carry aspirin. The clerk offers her a soothing balm, or some willow bark tea, or maybe a magic spell. And Caitlyn the pushover lets her do a spell, thinking it’s going to be something harmless, but it grows leaves in her ears. The clerk tries to undo it, and instead gives Caitlyn a unibrow. Then the clerk’s mother, the shopkeeper, comes in, and does another spell that fixes everything. Why is Caitlyn agreeing to all these spells? Who knows.
Then the shopkeeper offers her some tea, which Caitlyn drinks before asking what’s in it. Of course she does.
It turns out to be willow bark tea, and it instantly cures her headache.
I don’t like Caitlyn. She’s a pushover. She doesn’t plan ahead. She’s got no self-confidence and no common sense. Maybe over the course of the book she’ll get all of those things, but I don’t have the patience to stick around and find out. Especially not when the rest of the books in the series cost money.
From Amira Loutfi:
So the cover already made me laugh. The title is funny. There is a cute cat next to a witch’s hat on the cover. In the first few lines, we’re already seeing words like “pretty blond girl,” “fresh baking,” and “tea room.” What else do you need to know?
OK, let’s read further.
Caitlyn is dissatisfied because she doesn’t know who her real mother is. All her life she believed that Barbara was her mother. Barbara was a wealthy singer, who adopted her on a whim and then lost interest when the novelty wore off. So Caitlyn was mostly brought up by a nanny. When Barbara died in a tragic accident, Caitlyn received a letter that broke the news.
But it didn’t answer who her real mother was. She has only two clues — first, her mother admitted in the letter that she found her in Tillyhenge in a stone circle, and second, her rune necklace matches some of the carvings on Stonehenge. How are they related? They are both stone circles.
So Caitlyn wants to visit Tillyhenge.
Her cousin, Pomona is the pretty blond girl mentioned above. She believes in the occult and tells Caitlyn some pretty important things during their meeting at the fantastic-smelling tea room bakery. Pomona insists that a man had just been murdered in Tillyhenge. There there is a magical connection between all the stone circles. And that Caitlyn’s life will change if she goes to Tillyhenge.
Caitlyn wants to go anyway.
Tillyhenge is a weird village, Pomona insists. It doesn’t show up on satellites, GPS can’t guide you there, and its weather behaves independently from the surrounding areas. She then reads Caitlyn’s tea leaves and says that she can see a tall, handsome stranger and a bar of chocolate in her future.
In chapter two, she meets a strange-looking old man. Caitlyn isn’t even in Tillyhenge yet, but just studying the directions. The old man says he’s her “vampire uncle” and then starts complaining about kids these days. Goodness. I hope I never become like that. But anyway, he tells her that vampires have special responsibilities as “ancient guardian protectors.” He wants to get in the car and travel with her. She says she can’t bring him to his nursing home. And he is horribly offended. I like his response. It made me laugh.
Anyway, so there are two laughs I got out of this book already. I’ll be back.
7. Deus Ex Mechanic by Ryann Fletcher
This is the first of five books in The Cricket Chronicles space opera series. The other books are $2.99 to $3.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited. The last book is scheduled to be released next March.
From Amira Loutfi:
For some reason, I seriously doubt that a deus ex machina will occur in this series, but I am only reading the first chapter today, so… I guess you can tell me if you read it all the way, right?
This starts off with a fun scene — Alice is a Coalition mechanic working in a boiler on a ship that seems to have seen a few fights. She’s been working with captain Augustus on his trade ship for decades. The ship is full of new military recruits. They are currently in a dangerous area, and they want to get the ship fixed up sooner than later. There are pirates and other troublesome folks prowling around.
Barnabas, her best friend, starts giving her advice on how to become “hot.” He’s gay though, and so is she. She should probably consider his advice because Alice is a shabby dresser. She resists the conversation, claiming she is too busy working on Augustus’ ship to think about love. It’s the fastest, apparently.
So it’s a big, fast ship, full of soldiers. Very unlikely that any rebels or pirates, etcetera, would attack. Alice is making this exact point when, suddenly, the radio gives a shrill warning to “prepare for impact.”
I like that! I think I know what this book will be like — fun battles, tons of sci-fi world-building, chick-flick dialogue, and I assume that Alice will probably find herself in love with someone within the next two chapters.
It’s very cute, and it’s clear why others like it. I probably won’t be back, though.
8. The Seventeen Collection by AD Starrling
This is the first three of six books in the Seventeen Series of urban fantasy billed as a cross between “Highlander” and “James Bond.” The other books are $2.99 to $4.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
9. The Immortals by S.M. Schmitz
This is the first of four books in The Immortals Series of romantic urban fantasy. The other books are $2.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
Colin and Anna are demon-hunters who work for an angel. They made a deal with the angel — and I don’t know all the details, but I do know that part of the bargain was that the two of them would get to be together. Then, one night as Colin and Anna are just getting home, they are stunned to find the very same angel sitting in their living room. She says she needs something from them. She insists they will still get to be together, they just have to act like they don’t know each other.
She can’t explain why that is. But she does tell them to leave for Baton Rouge that very night. Goodness.
They have been pretending not to know each other for the past 3 months in Baton Rouge, and it’s making Anna and Colin really sad. They have no idea how long the ruse must go on. Even though they act like they aren’t in love, they still work together with a bunch of other demon-hunters. So they’re busy battling demons together — a nice allegory for relationships in real life.
In the aftermath of just such an outing, something unusual happens. Anna, Colin, and a coworker are alarmed by the strange demon corpse left over. Usually, the demons turn to dust or something after a hunter kills them, but instead, this one is more solid. Something weird is going on in Baton Rouge, for sure.
I can see why people like this. There is heartbreak, action, mystery, paranormal stuff, and neat world-building.
10. Lipstick and Lies and Deadly Goodbyes by Jodi Vaughn
This is the first of four books in The Vampire Housewife Series of cozy vampire mysteries. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
This is part of the Vampire Housewives series. Sounds like fun to me. But it starts with Jones, a beautiful 35-year-old housewife living lavishly with her husband, Miles. He is in surgery and she planned a few surprises for him on the night he arrives. The first thing is a sports symbol in their front yard.
She pulls up into her driveway that evening and is horrified when she sees what her landscaper did to her garden. It’s pretty funny, but awful at the same time. It kind of reminds me of the silly things going on in Stars Hollow. When the garage opens, she sees her husband’s car is there — surprise! Back early. So she preps her second gift for him, which is herself. She puts on nothing but a red bow, like a human present. And that’s where we get the plot twist — she finds him cheating on her with her best friend!
There’s a lot going on in this first chapter. Goodness, gracious!
She jumps into her car and drives recklessly, sliding on ice and almost killing herself. Then she gets out of the car and finds a mysterious animal — then a mysterious voice warns her to get away from it. She’s still wearing her red bow outfit, even when she awakens. She finds herself in a dark room with a strange, huge man. And she can’t move her body.
So I can certainly see why people are so into this book. It’s been climbing up the top hundred free sci-fi fantasy book list on Amazon for a while now. It’s funny and fast-paced.
Do you have other free books for us to check out? Email me at [email protected].
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
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