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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.
There are a lot of books to go through, so this week I’m being helped out by Amira Loutfi, our reviews editor.
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. To The Sky Kingdom by Tang Qi
This is standalone fantasy book. Tang Qi has many other books available, however most of them are not in English.
From Amira Loutfi:
There are eight deserts and four seas and each has its own god-emperor. The Sky Emperor is the leader of them all. The emperors and their courts are immortal, but each member has to undergo serious trials before they are awarded their immortality.
The writing style is a bit bland compared to what I’m used to. The prologue was pretty cool although the majority of it is really depressing.
I probably won’t be back because I didn’t feel that close to any of the characters.
I recommend it if you like metaphysical fantasy with gods and goddesses and strong Asian inspiration and enjoy the bland narrative style.
2. Genesis Sequence by Stan C. Smith
This is the prequel for the four-book Across Horizons science fiction adventure series. The other books are $2.99 to $4.99 each but are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
This book starts nearly 50,000 years in the past, in an area that’s eventually going to become Spain.
Skyra and her sister, both 18, are out hunting ibexes, but they’re both terrified. They lost their mother in a hunt a year ago, and haven’t been able to hunt since.
If they don’t come back with game this time they’ll be banished from their tribe.
They find a leopard that’s just killed an ibex and attack it, and both Skyra’s sister and the leopard are hurt in the fight. Skyra’s sister goes back to their village to get her wounds tended, while Skyra continues on to find the leopard and bring its body home.
In the next chapter, we jump to the near future. Lincoln Woodhouse is 41, divorced, and out of shape. He’s got a plan to regain his fitness, though. It involves running every day for the next two months. The augmented reality glasses he wears project virtual velociraptors behind him, making it look like they’re chasing him.
I could use glasses like that.
But Lincoln does more than design smart glasses. He runs a time travel company. He can send robotic drones back into the past through a time portal. The portal stays open for 19 minutes, during which time the drone can send back images and other data. Then the portal closes, and the drone stays there in the past until it stops functioning, which could be as long as ten years.
The drone can’t affect the past because a new timeline — a whole new universe — is created each time a drone goes through the time machine.
Lincoln and his team send a drone back in time, to the same time and place that we saw in the first chapter.
The drone sees a Neanderthal woman and calls to it, but the woman runs away, so it finishes its assigned data collection.
Then the portal closes and the drone is left behind. It seems that it has a built-in AI that was created to be a conversationalist. Since there’s nobody to talk to, it creates a compartmentalized cognitive presence — something it can talk to but which doesn’t have access to the drone’s motor functions or other critical systems. Then it decides to go see if it can find the Neanderthal woman.
Then we switch back to Skyra’s point of view. Yup, she’s the woman who ran away from the drone, which looked like a hairless wolf to her. She heard it trying to talk to her, but assumed that the voices had come from people hiding beyond it.
She’s attacked by four wolves. She kills one, but the others are about to kill her when the drone shows up and saves her. It tells her not to be frightened, that it just wants to talk to her.
Skyra runs again. The drone catches up to her. Turns out, Skyra can’t understand what the drone is saying. She tries to fight the drone and, in the process, the drone starts picking up a few words of her language.
She can’t hurt the drone, which starts following her around. It protects her against a charging boar, and it starts to develop a relationship with her.
I am loving this story so far. I will definitely keep reading.
3. The Hidden Prepper by Robert J. Walker
This is a standalone book of EMP Survival, however, the author does have many other EMP survival books available, may of which are free.
From Alex Korolov:
An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, knocks out all electronic devices and people are suddenly trying to survive the aftermath.
If you like doomsday scenario books, this one is for you.
This book starts with an MMA fight. Wayne is a young fighter who’s winning the fight, Keith is his older coach, and Ted is Keith’s friend who’s there to watch. Ted receives a call from his doctor in the middle of the match and finds that he has stage four pancreatic cancer – and then the power goes out.
The three now have to escape the arena that’s pitch black and full of confused people who are starting to panic.
These EMP books are like popcorn. You know exactly what you’re going to get — no electrical devices are working and everyone’s freaking out.
I’d keep reading this if I was in the right mood, but it doesn’t seem particularly different from any other EMP book I’ve reviewed.
4. Girls of Might and Magic by K. R. S. McEntire, C. C. Solomon, Amanda Ross, D. L. Howard, Lala Leo, E.M. Lacey, Alice Ivinya, Sudha Kuruganti, Meghan Rhine, Kat Zaccard, C. I. Raiyne, Courtney Dean, Kendra Merritt, Tamika Brown, Ashley Ford, and Nicole Givens Kurtz
This is an anthology by many authors of diverse teen and young adult fantasy stories. It focuses on character with disabilities, characters of color, and LGBTQ+ characters in stories about strength and resilience.
From Amira Loutfi:
I read the first short story in this collection, Heartburn. The protagonist is a shy little girl who gets kidnapped and discovers her magical power when it’s needed most.
Anala’s eyes are a dark green like a cat would have — indicating that she isn’t human. With the help of a girl from her class, one of her teachers and a stranger kidnap her to study her. They put her in a cage. While she is in the cage, her grandmother communicates with her telepathically. And then a strange doctor summons her to an examination room — they have a long talk. He’s not ready to examine her yet, he just enjoys bullying kidnapped children. In this conversation he’s basically just taunting her — insisting she isn’t human and therefore has no more rights according to US law. She argues back that she is human. He thinks she might be a werewolf.
What I don’t get is why this doctor wants to bully a little girl who might be a werewolf. I thought that perhaps he was deliberately goading her into using her non-human powers. But no, everything gets crazy in the end. It seems like he was just being stupid.
It’s entertaining for sure. I had trouble suspending my disbelief though — maybe because the entire premise is absurd?
I will be back because I’m curious about what else is in here and who the authors are.
5. The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan
This is the first of ten books in the Creepy Hollow young adult urban fantasy series. The other books are $0.99 to $4.99 each, and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
This is another coming-of-age fantasy, but set in the modern day. Violet is 17, and fae, and her job is to protect humans from dangerous magical creatures. She’s just two months away from graduation, and she’s got a chance to be the best guardian the guild has seen in years.
When the book begins, she’s on a new assignment. A cute human teenager, who’s being stalked by a serpent woman. Violet fights off the attacker but is bitten during the struggle. And now the boy can see her.
She tells the boy that he must be dreaming, and creates a portal back to Creepy Hollow in the faerie realm.
But as she steps through the boy grabs her arm and accidentally follows her in. That totally ruined her class standing.
The guild wants her to take the boy home, on foot, not through a magic portal. He might not survive a second magic trip. And when she gets him home, she’ll need to give him a potion so that he’ll forget what happened.
It’s a cute story, and a fun read. I probably won’t stick with it, but if, say, I was on vacation in a beach house and this book was on the shelf I would totally be reading it.
6. The Ravenglass Chronicles by Jon Cronshaw
This is a boxset of the first eleven books in the Ravenglass young adult fantasy series. The next ten books in the series are usually available as a boxset for $5.99, however they are currently on sale for $1.99. The entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
So, first, the obligatory disclaimer: I’m not the target audience for coming-of-age books. I have no patience for young adults whatsoever.
Kat, an imperial princess, just had her first period. Her handmaiden sees the blood and will tell Kat’s mother, which can ruin Kat’s plans. So she climbs out her window, along a ledge, down two floors, and jumps to the roof of the servants’ lodgings, where she taps at Hansel’s window. She complains to her friend that she’s going to be married off to some stranger. He tells her that a lot of people have it worse than she does.
Her mother sends for her — a talking wyvern comes to fetch her back. There’s going to be a ceremony that Kat doesn’t want to do. The ceremony involves a toy dog that is the only thing she has left of her father. She sneaks out in the middle of the night and steals the dog back.
But then, like an idiot, she hides it in her room — where her mother’s servants quickly find it.
So, she’s not only whiny, but not very smart.
I’m not going to keep reading. But if you like this kind of thing, the story is moves quickly and is extremely readable.
7. The Pawn & The Knight by Skye Warren
From Maria Korolov:
From the description, this book reminds me a bit of Fifty Shades of Grey. I was not the target audience for that book — I couldn’t get past the first few pages.
Avery James’s father has just been convicted of fraud. She needs to figure out a way to pay his creditors — and to pay for his medical care. For help, she turns to the richest man in the city, Damon Scott. The most powerful. And the most dangerous. And he wants the only thing she has to offer. Her virginity.
Yup. Damon Scott is going to auction off her virginity to the highest bidder. Which could be him.
So, anyway, the whole premise of the book creeps me out.
I’m not sure when the sci-fi or fantasy will kick in — if it ever will — but I’m not going to stick around to find out.
Still, both of the books in this set were on the USA Today bestseller list, so plenty of people did.
8. Eden by Darcy Rose
This is the first of four books in the Sacred Hill Rejects paranormal romance series. The other books are $0.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Again, my usual disclaimer: this is a young-adult book, and I’m not generally a fan of the genre.
I’m also not a fan of romance. Or of werewolves. Especially stories with destined mates and alpha wolves.
I know other people like all those tropes. And maybe the book will appeal to me anyway? Let’s see.
Eden’s parents died eight years ago and her pack’s alpha placed her in a new home, where she isn’t loved. On top of that, the other kids at school bullied her for being half-human.
Now it’s her 18th birthday party. Most werewolves get a huge celebration, because it’s the day many werewolves find their mates. But Eden’s parents are tired of having to spend time and money on her. They have to mark the day somehow, it’s a tradition, but they’re not going to go all-out. And few people show up.
It feels more like a funeral to her than a birthday party and nobody talks to her.
She can’t wait for it to be over. It’s not like she’s going to find her mate — she can’t even shift.
And then, right before midnight, it happens. She suddenly feel complete, whole, peaceful. Like she belongs. She hadn’t felt like this since before she lost her parents. And then someone says “Mine.” It’s the alpha’s son, Paxton. But nobody can believe it. They think she had a friend of hers, a witch, cast a spell. Not even Paxton really believes that it’s possible that she can actually be his mate. And he rejects her. In pain, she runs away from the party. But outside she unexpectedly shifts into wolf form.
Eventually, Eden is brought before the pack, forced to take a truth potion, and asked whether she had a witch cast a spell. She tells them that she didn’t, and that she doesn’t want anything to do with the pack. She doesn’t care how difficult it’s going to be to survive on her own. She wants out.
If this wasn’t billed as a romance — if I didn’t know that she and Paxton were going to get back together eventually — I might keep reading. The story really pulls you in.
But I don’t want her to end up with Paxton. I’d rather see her make her own destiny.
9. Cleaver’s Edge by Actus
This is the first book of three in the Morcster Chef LitRPG fantasy adventure series. The sequel, Into the Fire, is $4.99 and in Kindle unlimited. The third book, Best Served Cold, is currently available for pre-order for $4.99 and will be coming out next December.
From Maria Korolov:
This is a LitRPG book, which means that it’s like watching someone play a fantasy role playing video game, but in book form.
I jumped at the chance to review this book, since I’m a big fan of the LitRPG genre. Plus, the books that I myself write are LitRPG-adjacent, being set in a virtual world themselves.
Arek is an ogre in a world in which ogres are typically monsters who have to be killed. He joins up with a group of human adventurers, thanks to his abilities as a cook. But he isn’t just a good cook. He’s an amazing chef with abilities that are far above the ordinary. Plus, he’s got a mysterious past and a secret mission he doesn’t talk about.
It’s a fun, light read. Yes, the characters are one-dimensional. And I haven’t seen any signs of poetic depths, though I’m only a third of the way into the book and it might still happen. But you know what? When I read LitRPG, I’m not looking for metaphors and social commentary. I’m looking for a fun romp through a fantasy world. And with this book, that’s exactly what you get.
I’m definitely going to finish this one, and I’ve already downloaded the second book in the series.
Update: I have finished the book, and it maintained the same consistent style through to the end. It never explained why people in this fantasy world live by video game rules. Maybe the second book may offer an explanation, or maybe it’s just the way the world is.
10. Being Jewish in 2025 New York City: The Dystopian Nightmare by Bert Murray
This is the first of three books in the Being Jewish in 2025 New York City dystopian political thriller series. The second book is usually $4.99 but it’s free today, and the third book is $4.99. All three books are in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
The book is subtitled “The Dystopian Nightmare” and I’m not enthused. I don’t like dystopian fiction — especially something set so close to today.
David Stein lives in New York City, and the totalitarian city government is attacking both Christianity and Judaism.
But he’s still living his life. Since his last breakup two months ago, he’s found a new apartment, got a puppy, and has been doing online dating, hoping to meet a nice Jewish woman on JDate.
Dating just hasn’t been the same since the new government took over. For example, the New York City Department of Health has to approve all online matches. The reasoning? To keep people safe.
He goes on a date with a woman named Sue, who was just fired from her teaching position for asking her students to read George Orwell’s 1984.
This is all extremely politically heavy-handed. I’m not going to keep reading.
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria and Amira discuss all these books in the video below: