Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books? The list changes constantly — authors and publishers set their books to free temporarily to promote their work, and, of course, books move up and down in the rankings. Read on to find your fun free read for this weekend! And grab the books quickly because they don’t always stay free for long.
This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So if you’re a fan of free books, there are going to be new things to read all the time. If you want to get this list in your inbox every Friday afternoon, subscribe to the MetaStellar weekly newsletter.
There are a lot of books to go through, so this week I’m being helped out by a couple of other members of our MetaStellar community. If you’d like to join me in doing these reviews — and taping our regular Free Friday videos — email me at [email protected].
5. Darkness Of Light by Stacey Marie Brown
This is the first of five books in the Darkness Series of young adult paranormal romance, and has nearly 7,000 five-star reviews. The other books are $3.99 each, and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list. This USA Today bestselling author has been on our Free Friday list before. In June of 2022, we reviewed Savage Lands, the first of six books in the Savage Lands paranormal urban fantasy series.
From Tim McHugh:
This book is a coming of age urban fantasy story that follows a high school aged girl who is learning that magic exists. This type of story is not usually what I reach for. I prefer high fantasy with dark characters or space operas on different planets, but I think I can still judge fairly.
The story starts with our main character Ember and her outcast friends at a high school dance. We see the typical run-ins that a reader can expect from a high school drama. Ember nervously speaks to the popular star athlete and gets told off by the beautiful mean girl. In the middle of her fight with the popular girl, odd things start happening that are clearly tied to her emotional state — light fixtures burst and windows shatter, forcing everyone to run out of the school.
Ember does not know magic exists, she has all types of excuses for the odd things that happen, but she feels she is going crazy when in the next chapter she has a hallucination. An odd voice tells her about her mother and hints at her powers. After the hallucination, her friends drive her home from the dance and she goes to sleep, and here we get another short prophetic moment where she dreams that she has dark powers and she uses them for evil.
The beginning of the story didn’t do much to pull me in. The dialogue mainly consisted of surface level comments that could’ve been said by any of the characters and still fit, and all the high school drama is not what I look for in fantasy. I was also a bit bothered by paragraphs of info dumping or character descriptions that seemed to be in random places. Lastly, I felt the set up to the story is a commonly used troupe — the outcast that no one pays attention to has secret powers.
I don’t want people to think it was all bad, so now that I got all my complaints out of the way, I can get on to the good stuff. The author has flashes of wit in the first few chapters where I actually laughed at stuff Ember says in her head. I also think that Ember has a lot of potential as a character — she has a deep connection to her departed mother and a propensity to be a bit dark which adds depth to her. I didn’t get too deep into the magic system in the first chapters but that has potential to be unique as well.
I will not be continuing with this because I don’t think I could get into a story about a modern day high schooler, magical or not. The description also hints that a hot, passionate man will enter the story and nothing disinterests me quite like graphic romance scenes. However, if this is a genre that interests you, this story is worth a try.
4. Dark Invasion by Nathan Hystad
This is the first of three books in The Travelers alien invasion series. The other books are on sale today $0.99 each, and are also all in Kindle Unlimited. The author is a regular on our Free Friday list. In August of 2023, we reviewed Space Race , the first of three books in the Space Race space opera series. In December of 2022, we reviewed The Ancients , the fourth of 21 books in The Survivors alien invasion series. In October of 2022, we reviewed First Life, the first of four books in The River Saga alien invasion science fiction series. And in August of 2022, we reviewed Lost Contact, the first of three books in The Bridge Sequence first contact series.
From Terrence Smith:
This book is set in 1984 on a small island down on its luck across from the big city. The protagonist, Elliot, is a 22-year-old who, three years into college for finance, had to return home to the island, after his mom has a psychotic break, and works in the video rental store part-time.
On the eve of the Fourth of July, he starts seeing strange figures in the middle of a powerful storm, he starts seeing strange figures in flashes, foreshadowing a coming alien invasion. Also, a man decked out in a military uniform makes a long-term rental of a video camera from the rental store.
This book immediately gives off X-Files vibes. Elliot’s mother and uncle both had a close encounter some time ago, permanently changing them. The stormy weather also promises a thrilling adventure. The military character also hints at government involvement. Or, as The X-Files would say, “Government denies knowledge.”
The characters instantly come off as likable and empathetic. Anyone can relate to Elliot having trouble finding direction in his life, as well as having their partner taken by the hunky bully from high school. Elliot’s friend Hank, a punk-embracing rebel, is mad at Elliott for not being in touch while he was away in college, but is still there for him. He even tries to set him up with a pretty waitress right after his girlfriend breaks up with him.
This narrative has piqued my curiosity, and I eagerly anticipate the emergence of additional aliens, eerie small-town intrigues, and government plots in the forthcoming chapters.
3. Stained by Starlight by Sara Ivy Hill
This is the second of five books in the Warrior Kings of Alioth sci-fi romance series by a USA Today bestselling author. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each, but are all in Kindle Unlimited. The fifth book will be released in February, and is now available for pre-order. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.
From Maria Korolov:
As I’ve said repeatedly in previous reviews, I’m not a fan of the sexy-naked-guy-on-the-cover type of book. But the people on our team who do like to read romance aren’t around today, so I’m it.
Now, this is the second book in the series, and I’d normally read the first one so as not to spoil things for me in case I want to go on and read them all, but, in this case, I’ll just jump right in.
Bree is alone, on a stone platform, a creepy alien crowd staring at her. She’s been abducted from Earth and kept in a cell for the past few weeks, and she doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her.
I bet I know. I bet she’s going to be rescued from space slavery by a handsome alien and they’ll be instantly attracted to each other, and immediately start having hot, sweaty sex.
Oooh — twist. Bree was a poker grifter back on Earth. Nice! When she’s sold off and packed off on another spaceship, she passes the time by playing poker in her head. I like her.
Then we switch to the point of view of Thren. The would-be love interest, I presume. His father has died and his brother has taken over as emperor, and Thren thinks it should have been him, and he’s pretty angry about it. Oh, and it looks like his brother had come across a woman from Earth, and wants Thren to find the woman’s friends. I’m guessing that this all happened in the previous book. Oh, no, I’ve spoiled it for myself. (I won’t tell you the rest, though.) Meanwhile, Thren has some local political issues he’s got to resolve.
Then we’re back to Bree. She’s about to be auctioned again. This time, she’s bought by an agent for some alien king, and she’s going to have work for the king until she pays off her debt. Seems she’s not completely a slave — just an indentured servant.
Then we switch back to Thren. One of his people tells him that there’s a new woman — which means that Thren is the king that Bree was sold to. And when Thren sees her, he’s immediately caught by her scent and has to have her. But if he gives in, he won’t be able to follow his brother’s orders.
So, yeah, I was right. There’s a very cheesy plot, and lots and lots of sex. Lots of it. Judging by how popular this author is, I’m guessing that there are a lot of people out there who would enjoy this very much. And I do have to say that the book is extremely readable and Bree is a clever and fun character and I’m enjoying spending time with her. Will I finish this book? Not that I’ll admit.
But, if this sounds like something you might like, I suggest that you start with the first book, Stolen by Starlight, which is $4.99 and is probably well worth it — but is also in Kindle Unlimited, if you have a subscription.
2. Claimed by the Alien Rogue by Krista Luna
This is the first of six books in the Fated Mates of the Zaarn sci-fi romance series. The other books are $0.99 to $4.99 each, but are all in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on our list before. We reviewed her book Possessed by the Alien King , the first of six books in the Fated Mates of the Varool sci-fi romance series, in September of 2022.
From Maria Korolov:
Again, I’m reading this book against my will. What is with all the sexy alien stories on today’s list? Is it because it’s cold outside and people are looking for something to warm up with? In which case… yeah, I can see that.
Cara is waking up from cryo sleep. She’s looking forward to landing on the new planet, so I guess she hasn’t been kidnapped against her will.
No, I spoke too soon. Instead of being greeted by a medic, there’s a creepy alien staring at her that looks like a giant slug. Oh, I really hope this isn’t the love interest.
And when Cara looks around, she sees that she’s no longer on the ship she started out on. Turns out, Cara’s job was peacekeeper — kind of police officer, soldier, and body guard rolled into one. She was supposed to protect a bunch of scientists. I suspect that the slug alien has hijacked the ship and is going to sell her off. There are other cryo pods there. It looks like the aliens grabbed lots of people when they grabbed her.
Then we switch to the point of view of Gravin. He and his people don’t have enough women. Of course they don’t. He doesn’t have a fated mate, so he’s been banished to space, and all he’s got is his ship and its crew. They land on a new planet to buy some replacement ship parts. He’s wandering around the market when he sees Cara being offered for sale — and immediately knows that she’s his fated mate.
I actually like Gravin. He’s smart and competent, not the usual brutish warrior type you see in these stories. And he doesn’t like the fact that the slugs find new species before they’re classified as sentient and sell them into slavery. I bet he’s going to try to free Cara.
Then we switch to Cara’s point of view, who finds Gravin sexy as well. Unfortunately, Gravin doesn’t have enough money to buy her and some lizard alien wins the auction instead. Cara realizes that the aliens that bought her are bad guys, since everyone else is afraid of them. She has to figure out a way to break her chains and escape from them — and go back and rescue the scientists and others from her original ship.
I hate to admit it, but I’m really enjoying this book. I like the fact that Cara and Gravin are both competent, mission-oriented, and focus on doing the right thing. I might stick with it.
1. Taken by Hattie Jacks
This is the first book of the five-book Haalux Empire series. The other books are $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on our list before. In fact, we previously reviewed this book in July of 2021. And we reviewed Fierce, the first of five books in the Rogue Alien Warriors science fiction romance series, in March of 2022.
From Amira Loutfi:
Jayne and Rex are quite a couple here. Jayne is a mouthy snarky human girl who has been abducted by aliens. Rex captured her, while she was high on narcotics, aboard another ship that was trying to sneak past his “quadrant.”
Rex is a huge monstrous alien who doesn’t even know what a human is … and now he’s in charge of one. He’s angry because he feels like he’s been demoted, even though he’s technically the new commander. Jayne is in serious pain when her narcotics gradually wear off. Half her face is covered in bruises and her ribs are broken.
When he finally decides to bring her to the medic, he starts to feel attracted to her in spite of himself.
All this happened in the first two chapters, titled Jayne and Rex. It’s an alien romance where the perspective switches back and forth.
The characters are cute. I like Jayne, Rex, and the medic. And the world-building is good.
So I skipped ahead to chapter 37. Jayne is already calling Rex “my warrior.” He’s in a nasty fight with another huge alien. They are so close. Hmm… Oh, and the word “cock” is mentioned 51 times.
I think I already told you enough about this to help you decide whether or not to read it. If you feel somewhat inclined, I’d say go get it while it’s free.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria and Terrence discuss all five books in the video below: