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. Fangs and Frenemies by Sierra Cross
This is the first of three books in Blue Moon Bay Witches magical mystery series. Book two is $4.99 and is in Kindle Unlimited. Book three will be released in February is available for preorder at $4.99. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.
From Kristin Noland:
Everyone is guarding a magical secret in Blue Moon Bay, even Hazel Greenwich. She failed with the Beige Magic of which her mother and sisters excel, but she’s a natural at Green Magic.
Working at her grandmother’s bakery, she uses magic to bless wedding cakes for successful marriages, but on the eve of the wedding of an old high school nemesis, she’s interrupted by the bride and must attend the wedding to finish the spell. To make things even better, her familiar is an old VW Rabbit with a mind of its own.
Hazel is snarky but well-meaning. She’s the family outcast with her grandmother being the only one who supports and encourages her, and she is worried about her grandmother losing her magical touch and that she will need to run the bakery all too soon.
Though the story is a bit slow at the start, I’m sure when Hazel finds out the mean girl from her past goes missing the story will pick up the pace.
The story is well-written in a humorous style that made me chuckle a few times already. However, I won’t be finishing the book. It’s just too slow for me.
Fans of mysteries with magical twists will love this book.
4. Mystics and Murder by Julia Koty
This is the first of three books in the Darla Damian Paranormal Mystery series. But the other books are not available on Amazon — or anywhere else, it seems. The books’ Goodreads pages have Amazon links, but the links are dead, and the author’s website has no info about what’s going on and nothing on her Facebook page. Maybe the books were published and taken down for some reason. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.
From Terrence Smith:
This book has a couple winning points for me right off the bat. A coastal Massachusetts town? Check. Cats? Double check. A small, hippie book shop? Also check.
These elements made me feel at home as I started Nora’s story. Nora is a psychic-for-hire at new-age shop she co-owns with her best friend, Candace. She is just starting work again several weeks after her husband died. Believing she is responsible for misinterpreting her psychic visions, she has vowed never to use her powers again.
Unbeknownst to her, though, Candace booked for her an appointment with a woman whose husband has gone missing. Nora used her tarot cards, but not her psychic abilities, to help her. Shortly afterward, another seemingly well-off woman comes in seeking relationship advice, and when Nora shook her hand, she got the briefest psychic intuition that something was off about her.
The characters seem enjoyable enough. Candace likes to meddle in Nora’s personal business, but it does come from the right place. Nora’s struggles with her grief make her empathetic. She seems to be holding her head up remarkably well. They also like tea, which is something that will appeal to every tea fiend.
This story seems to have the schmalziness of a Hallmark mystery movie, and you know something? I am definitely here for it. I might continue further with it in the future.
3. Crescent Pack by Jennifer Snyder
This box set of four books is the complete Crescent Pack shifter romance series. It is also available on Kindle Unlimited, in case you miss the free offer. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.
From Maria Korolov:
Let’s get something out of the way first. I love cozy magical mysteries with a little romance in them. But I’ve come to dislike paranormal romance — the Twilight kind, with werewolves and vampires — with a bitter passion.
You’d think they’d be the same thing. But no, they’re not. Yes, both are set in the present day. Yes, both involve magic of some kind. Shapeshifters can show up in both types of books. And there’s romance in both.
I guess what I object to is the Twilight aesthetic and the way the romance is the primary focus of the story. And I readily admit that I’m in the minority here. Plenty of people love it. If you’re one of those people, please take what I’m about to write with a big grain of salt. Heck, a whole bushel full.
In the first chapter, we meet Nadine, fresh from an unpleasant breakup. Now her ex is texting her again. And what does she do? She takes out her phone and blocks his number.
Good for her.
She’s 23, and recently returned to her hometown of Crescent Creek to start over. The first things she does is go back to the local coffee shop, where she used to work — before she left town and got her business degree and wasted five years on her ex. She considers asking if they’re hiring, but decides against it because she’d be working with the same woman she’d worked with before — and it would have been too much. Also, the woman has already heard the gossip about Nadine’s breakup — and thinks the two of them should have stayed together. So does Nadine’s mom. And pretty much everyone else.
Maybe Nadine should have picked some other small town to lick her wounds in.
Then she bumps into another local resident who tells her to apply for a job at the flower shop, instead — and to get the tattoo with her ex’s name on it covered up. And she promises her that things will change for the better. When Nadine looks across the street, there’s a tattoo place there that hadn’t been there before.
Then, in the next chapter — oh, no! — we switch to the point of view of someone named Callum. He works at the tattoo place and he’s a werewolf. And, since we’re in his point of view, it means he’s the love interest.
I know people like this, but I don’t. I’d rather stick with one protagonist, and be surprised by the romance instead of being hit over the head with it right off.
Oh, and Callum is the local alpha. Oh, no again! Real wolves don’t have alphas! It’s a long-debunked myth!
Anyway, Callum also has a troubled past. His brother got drunk one day and pulled a gun on a random driver, got into a fight with him, and shot him. The brother went to prison, and Callum himself, even though he was a teenager, was tried as an adult for attempted carjacking and lost his football scholarship and his chance to get out of town.
Now Callum’s inner wolf is all riled up for some reason, and then a girl walks into the tattoo parlor. It’s Nadine. And Callum’s heart skips a beat and his wolf is now happy. But Nadine is human and from a nice family. And Callum’s family is dirt poor, dad in and out of jail, and mom is an alcoholic. He’s been in love with Nadine since school, but knew she was out of his league.
But he’s very happy to find out that she’s there to have her ex’s name covered up.
Then we switch back to Nadine’s point of view — and she’s also had a crush on Callum for the longest time.
Like I said, it’s all about the romance here. There might be a plot at some point — maybe something related to Nadine finding a job. Or some politics with Callum’s brother’s pack. But that plot seems to be secondary to the romance, and there isn’t much mystery to the romance, either. They’re both young and hot, and are hot for each other, so they’ll get together.
And both seem to have problems that could be easily fixed by getting on a bus and going to another town. Any other town. Nadine can work in a cafe anywhere. Callum can do tattoos anywhere. There’s literally nothing keeping them in the place that’s causing them all this emotional stress. Also, Nadine should probably take some time off from dating after coming out of a damaging, emotionally abusive relationship, and figure out who she actually is and what she wants.
Other than that, the two main characters are sympathetic and the book is very readable, so I think that people who like this formula will enjoy it. Plus, the full series is free! It’s just not for me.
2. Of Murders and Mages by Nikki Haverstock
From Maria Korolov:
And now for another little cozy witch mystery!
Ella has just found out that she’s a witch, there’s a mischievous cat who wants to be her familiar, and her new coworker is cranky but very, very attractive.
I must have read this story a million times already. But, to be honest, I’m going to read it again. And enjoy it.
So, Ella works at a casino, and she just moved into her Dad’s apartment after he’d been murdered. She’s a freelance financial auditor. While she’s working at her desk, a giant cat, the size of a medium dog, keeps bothering her and sneaking into her office. This is a common type of cat in this town, which is Rambler, Nevada. And the cat bites her.
She’s at the casino’s owner office when she sees marks spreading up her arm from where the cat bit her, and thinks she’s been infected by a poison. But the casino owner knows what’s going on, and she calls in witnesses and they do a little ritual. Ella’s now bonded to a cat, learns she’s got some magical powers — her ability to spot financial fraud isn’t just pure professional skill – and the casino owner sends her home with a ton of cat supplies.
At home, she discovers that her dad left her a mysterious necklace, and that her new cat hates dry cat food.
I’m interested. I like the Ella. I like the casino owner. I like the cat. I like the fact that all the other books are in Kindle Unlimited.
This book set is a keeper.
1. Witch and Wolfhound by Kate Moseman
This book is the prequel to the West Side Witches paranormal mystery series. Book one is available for $0.99, and book two is 4.99. Book three is available for preorder for $4.99. These books are not in Kindle Unlimited. We reviewed another book by this author on Feb. 4, 2022.
From Maria Korolov:
Another cozy magical mystery! Yay!
But — oh, no! — Witch and Wolfhound is technically the fourth book in the series. It’s a prequel to the others, but the author recommends that you read it after you’ve read the first book, Spells and Sandwiches.
Spells and Sandwiches isn’t free today, but, at great personal sacrifice, I shelled out the 99 cents so that I can review it, instead, and avoid spoiling things for myself and for you, my readers.
The book starts with our protagonist, Zelda, playing Snow White for a children’s birthday party in New York City. I love the name Zelda. There’s a Zelda in one of my all-time favorite television shows — Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The good, funny one from the 1990s, not the new grim dark one.
Anyway, one of Zelda’s relatives has a business providing characters for parties, and needed her to fill in.
Then she senses that one of the women at a party is a vampire, and Zelda’s long-dormant magic kicks in. The vampire tells Zelda that she used to be her grandmother’s landlord.
You see, grandma ran a sandwich shop before she passed away, but Zelda and her parents were all living in Florida back then so nobody took it over. It’s been boarded up ever since.
The vampire woman has been keeping it boarded up for Zelda. And now that Zelda’s come back to New York, the vampire wants a favor from Zelda. It seems that a mirror keeping the fae out of our world has cracked. Zelda’s grandmother was the one who sealed them away.
Zelda doesn’t know much magic, she barely knows anything about the fae. She can’t do it. But then the vampire offers her free rent for life for the sandwich shop if she just tries. Then throws in a hundred thousand dollars as a sweetener. Plus a magic artifact on to of it.
I like Zelda. I like her relationship with the sexy and rich ex-boyfriend she’s crashing with while she gets her sandwich shop back up and running. And I like her magic powers — though I won’t give away here what they are.
I’m going to keep reading this book, and probably the rest of the series as well. Good think I started with the first book.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!