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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. 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 Friday videos — email me at [email protected].
10. The Relic Bond by Jasper Alden and D.K. Holmberg
This is the first of six books in The Lost Riders epic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each but they’re all in Kindle Unlimited. The sixth book is scheduled to be released early next month and is available for pre-order. This is Jasper Alden’s first time on our top ten list, but D.K. Holmberg is not only a regular but also a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.
From Tim McHugh:
This book takes place in a fantasy world. We don’t know the geography yet but it seems the Malarsan Empire rules over a lot of the land. This world is filled with sorcerers, queens, and dragons. I love high fantasy, it is far and away my favorite genre, so I’m the target audience for this one.
The prologue starts with General Kolass, a leader of the Malarsan Empire in its war against dragons. We don’t know why they are waging a war against dragons, just that Kolass is a dragon slayer. The prologue shows him in a one-on-one battle with his third dragon, which is a record amongst the army. He uses his experience and skill to kill the dragon and is worshipped by his troops.
The next few chapters follow a relic hunter, Hal, who works for the queen of Malarsan. His job is to find powerful relics that will help in their war against dragons. These chapters move at a relatively slow pace as Hal and his mage-protector find a relic deep in a jungle and bring it back to the queen. I stopped here but Hal will eventually find a relic that awakens a power within him and will become an important piece in the war.
As a reader, I don’t usually like the war against dragons trope because they follow the same plot. I often find that the wars are unnecessary, they could’ve just left the dragons alone, but to be fair, I don’t know the reason yet for the war in this book, so maybe it’s justified.
I also have a problem with the writing in this book. The descriptions branch off into tangents that lead to info dumps about things that have nothing to do with the chapter. The characters don’t seem dynamic to me so far. I don’t see a unique plot forming in this book, it might be a fun story about dragons and magic, but nothing that a reader can sink their teeth into.
I don’t want to dissuade readers from a book after only reading a few chapters, so I will say that there is potential for a good story to come of this. Hal might have to come to grips with a great power, he might discover something about the kingdom, or about the queen but from what I’ve read so far, I’m not going to finish this one.
9. Glimmer of the Other by Heather G. Harris
This is the first of seven books in The Other Realm urban fantasy series. The other books are $1.99 each to $4.99 each but they’re all in Kindle Unlimited. The last two books are scheduled to be released this May and this June, respectively, and are both available for pre-order.
From Maria Korolov:
The book starts with our protagonist up in a tree in someone’s back yard, doing some discrete surveillance.
Just from the first paragraph, I can tell you that I am exactly the target audience for this book and will probably stick with it this weekend — and may well read the rest of the series.
After she gets the extremely compromising photographs, Jinx heads off to meet with her client, and we find out that she’s single, has a dog, and has been a private eye for seven years. Oh, and she can tell if someone is lying to her.
Then she goes home to her Great Dane. Her parents are both dead, murdered. She lives in their old house, though she painted over the blood stains.
On the way from walking the dog, something spooks it.
The next day, a rich old lady hires her to find her granddaughter.
I like Jinx. She’s professional and organized. She shows up on time to appointments and is appropriately dressed. She gets a deposit up front for her services. It’s so nice to read about a private eye who’s not a total idiot at actually running their business.
I like her a lot. Even if if this was a standard cozy mystery story, I’d stick with it. But the glimmers of strangeness we’ve seen so far — mostly around the dog — and Jinx’ supernatural truth-sensing abilities are a nice bonus. Plus, judging by the cover, things are about to get a lot more supernatural.
8. Blood and Feathers by Beth Revis
Set in a world that has been divided by a powerful wall created with blood magic, we follow the story of Sine, the princess of the Bloodlands.
The Bloodlands created and have maintained the magic wall for hundreds of years to protect themselves from the huge and scary monsters that live on the other side. They believe that only monsters, and nomadic tribes almost as savage as the monsters they share the north with, live beyond the wall, but is that really all there is on the other side?
I am a fan of young adult epic fantasy and fantasy in general, but I just couldn’t get into this one. I read the first three chapters and there just wasn’t enough world building or context for me to understand what was going on.
My interest was piqued after we’re able to see another point-of-view from a character from the other side of the wall — the side where the monsters live — at the beginning of the story, but the whole thing with the scary birds attacking the royal family while they’re performing some sort of ritual kind of lost me.
I don’t know if it was the mess with the wall and the monsters or how rushed that beginning felt, but I’m just not interested in continuing this book. It wasn’t intriguing or interesting enough for me to want to keep going, it was just confusing.
7. A Werewolf, A Vampire, and A Fae Walk Into A Bar by Karpov Kinrade and Evan Gaustad
This is the first of three books in The Last Witch urban fantasy series. The other two books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I like urban fantasy, especially snarky urban fantasy with strong female protagonists, so this is right up my alley.
Bernie is pregnant, back in her home town in Massachusetts after some time away, working as a bartender in her grandmother’s Irish pub. It’s Tuesday night and just the regulars are at the bar. Also, it’s winter, and a blizzard is on its way, when the bar shakes — something has hit it. A rock with glowing metallic veins. For some reason, even though the rock is warm and possibly radioactive, Bernie pries it out the wall and brings it outside.
She’s about to close up for the night early and send the regulars home when three hot guys walk into the bar. They all look like them came from a cosplay convention. Despite the fact that she’s sworn off men until the kid is in college — and that she’s about to go into labor — she’s interested in all three of them.
All the regulars go home, leaving just the three new guys, when she goes into labor. There’s no way to get to a hospital now, not in the blizzard, and she asks if one of the guys would happen to be a doctor. And, as it so happens, one of them is. Well, a healer, anyway. And he claims to have delivered many babies.
Apparently, the three guys all showed up at the bar independently, and just happened to come in at the same time. Because they’re all following the same prophecy. Apparently, they’re old enemies.
But they put their differences aside long enough to help deliver the baby and then clean up everything while Bernie is sleeping. But then, when she wakes up, they go at each other’s throats. Each of them wants to take the baby to their own realm. Oh, and they’re a werewolf, a vampire, and a fae.
It’s definitely a fun — and unusual premise. And I can see a love triangle — rectangle? — evolving here, unless it turns into one of those reverse harem books where the girl gets all the guys.
Am I going to stick with it? No. It’s definitely readable and enjoyable, but there’s too much romance in it for me.
6. Beauty is Sleeping by Smokey Moment
From Maria Korolov:
The book opens with Alice talking to a deputy. Her three-year-old daughter has disappeared. She last saw her the night before, when she tucked her into bed. The window was open — Alice cracked it a little at night when her daughter complained of being too hot.
But there’s only one set of footprints under the window, small ones, so the kid might have crawled out the window and walked away on her own.
This book badly needs copyediting. Normally, by the time books get to the top ten list, they don’t have any major issues. But here, there are no paragraph breaks when one person stops speaking and another person starts, so it’s hard to figure out who’s saying what without going back and re-reading.
The parents are crying when the cops come back. They found the kid, four miles deep into the forest, all alone.
Now that she’s back, the child is acting strange. For one thing, she eats dirt. Her mother does research and can find no studies about this.
I don’t know how the mother did her research, but I just Googled it, and it’s called pica, and a tenth to a third of all kids under six have it. It’s a pretty common compulsive eating disorder.
Now, I don’t expect my fiction novels to be necessarily well-researched, but I do prefer it when the author bothers to do the minimum.
Then there’s more stuff about the parents dealing with the aftermath of their daughter disappearing and being found again, and backstory of how they met.
The next weird thing happens as Alice and her husband are driving with their daughter on the way home from a carnival and a large branch suddenly falls across the road and a creepy, menacing-looking rabbit hops across.
A few other cars pull up behind them, and it takes several men to move the branch. It’s a lot heavier than it should be. And, that night, they see a creepy light in the forest. The next morning, Jake goes out to get some firewood for their fireplace. He picks a small tree to chop down, but his chainsaw can’t get a grip on it, even though the blade is brand new. He can’t even cut through the bark.
It’s definitely creepy.
I don’t like creepy books, or stories about children going missing. But I also have problems with books that aren’t edited. As someone who edits for a living, I keep wanting to stop, pull out a red pencil, and start making corrections. So I’m not going to stick with it.
5. Ignited by A. M. Deese
This is the first of three books in the Dance of the Elements epic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each but they’re both in Kindle Unlimited.
This book is a young adult fantasy full of politics, palace intrigue, and secrets. As we follow seventeen-year-old Jura, heir to the First of the Thirteen council members, we’re introduced to the Republic of the Sand Sea and get to see how decisions are made by the council. Instead of being boring, the politics and the council’s action actually end up being intriguing enough to keep you wanting to know more about them and the provinces they represent.
Yet what’s interesting about this story is that Jura has been forced into this position after being attacked by her father. No one knows that one of their guards died protecting Jura from her father, nor that he’s currently tied up in a cellar after Jura found a “blood chain” on his wrist. A blood chain is a magical relic that basically makes her father someone’s puppet, and Jura will stop at nothing to discover who did this to him.
As the story moves on, we’re also introduced to another character known as Ash, who is a powerful Fire Dancer who fights in an Arena to prove himself. He’s a pretty interesting character but since it’s only the beginning of the story we don’t really get to see enough of him. Now, this isn’t a terrible start to the story since it gives you enough context and introductions to make you feel interested in the world and its characters. Let’s just say that the beginning of this book was a little too slow for my liking and I just wasn’t a fan of the new conflict that starts rising by the second chapter.
In the end, I probably won’t continue reading this but I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a heavy fantasy book with magic, secrets and dragons.
4. The Third Storm by Liz Hambleton
This is the first of three books in The Storm Series of dystopian romance. The other books are $0.99 to $3.99 each, but they’re both in Kindle Unlimited.
From Melody Friedenthal:
After reading one page of The Third Storm I was sighing. And not in an “Isn’t-this-dreamy?” kind of way. More of a “Hey author! Hire an editor, next time, ok?” way.
But I shall read on, because the book might turn out to be interesting, despite the awkward sentences and grammar mistakes I found at the very beginning. And I promised that I would give this book the old college try.
Rowan is aunt to identical twin nephews, Lewis and Beau. The twins’ mother is deceased. Rowan is grappling with raising the boys herself. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of epic storms – in fact, the book opens with a flood so bad that the air mattress she and the boys are sleeping on has floated to within a couple of feet of the ceiling of their home’s basement, where they’ve taken refuge.
Rowan plots how she is going to get the trio to some ship, where Dean — her friend? lover? enemy? — has promised them a spot.
Is this a sailing ship, or a modern ocean liner, or maybe a spaceship? I’ll read on…
The boys seem unable to talk. Oh, wait a moment, one of them finally says something, albeit one word, in a whisper.
Rowan refers to the boys as a unit, BeLew. Not being a twin myself, I wonder if they resent the conflation.
Along the way they find a man who isn’t quite dead. When Rowan puts their own safety ahead of saving this guy, the boys show their disgust with her.
They make it to Dean’s house and steal his Jeep. Then she goes back for the injured man… who turns out to be handsome and well-muscled.
They arrive at the shipyard and Rowan remembers the extensive instructions Dean gave her: to take on the persona of a dead woman, to pretend she’s ex-military, to ask for him over and over. I was buying all this until he tells her to get the boys to “fake sleeping.” I don’t know any six-year-olds who can do this and not giggle or wiggle.
Rowan tells the gate guards that the unconscious man is her husband and BeLew her children. They’re allowed to pass. The ship is not a spaceship – all the ships are out to sea, so they need to wait.
This story has possibilities and I’ll probably read a bit more before making final judgment.
3. Sword of Secrets by S.M. Schmitz
This is the first of four books in the Heroes of Asgard urban fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. Schmitz has been on our list before. We reviewed The Immortals, the first of four books in The Immortals Series, back in October of 2021.
From Maria Korolov:
Gavyn, our protagonist, is just a guy. He’s a little neater than normal, and likes weak beer and football, and the most interesting thing about him seems to be that he lost his mom to cancer when he was 12.
The book starts with him and his buddy hanging out, watching college football, when the game is interrupted for breaking news. Some terrorists somewhere are claiming to be Sumerian gods and blow something up, live on camera. They’re demanding that the heroes protecting the Earth give themselves up to be slaves or else humanity will pay.
Gavyn is pretty annoyed that the television station broke away from the football game for this nonsense. He’s complaining about the interruption when there’s a knock on his door.
An old woman and a hot blonde are there, and they demand that Gavin come with them. Apparently, he’s one of the heroes the terrorists were talking about. Obviously, he refuses to go. Or believe them.
So they drag him out, and when his friend tries to stop them, they drag him out, too. They’re pretty strong, these two women.
I don’t like Gavyn. I don’t like the fact that whenever there’s a woman around — the journalist on TV, or the two women who show up at his door — the first thing he thinks about is how hot they are and whether he would sleep with them. I don’t like the fact that he readily admits that he spent his college years partying and has no idea how he managed to graduate. I don’t know whether he’s supposed to have a redemption arc eventually, or whether we’re supposed to find him sympathetic, but I don’t want to spend time with this guy.
Oh, and I also don’t like that his name is spelled with a “y.”
Anyway, the two women take Gavyn and his friend to the airport, where they just happen to have passports for them and are joined by other men. And Gavyn whines and complains about the fact that they’re being kidnapped, but doesn’t actually say anything to airport security. So not only is he a jerk and stupid, but he’s also a coward afraid of making a fuss.
You know what? I don’t want this guy to have a redemption arc. I want him to be killed in a gruesome and unpleasant manner by the supernatural beings who are showing up all over the place.
But, since the book is told in the first person, I doubt that he’s going to be killed off any time soon.
So, not for me.
But, other than my little quibbles, I do have to say that the book is readable, and that it reminds me a bit of the Percy Jackson series, but with a slightly older protagonist.
2. Death’s Door by April White
This is the first and, so far, only book in The Immortal Descendants: Baltimore Mysteries time travel series. This book has won a ton of awards. However, it’s a spinoff of the six-book The Immortal Descendants series, which is all in Kindle Unlimited, and you might want to read that series first.
From Terrence Smith:
On paper, this book should be an instant recommendation from me. It has Edgar Allen Poe time traveling to modern-day Maryland.
Going in, the story’s protagonist, Ren, finds Edgar Allen Poe walking into her bar one night, and she instantly recognizes him as the one and only Edgar Allen Poe. Immediately one asks, how does she recognize Edgar Allen Poe if he is from a different time period?
Her narration and the story hint that they are both Clockers, people who have the ability to jump between time periods. Implying that there is something supernatural about Ren as well at the very beginning of the story is a little bit jarring, as she seems like a regular person initially.
The whole story of what Poe is doing in the modern-day and seeing him interacting with society is something that I find intriguing, but I do not anticipate myself returning to it.
1. The Last Haven by Marie Wilkens
This is a standalone book of EMP survival. However, the author has been on this list before — a lot. In fact, she was on this very list last week, with a box set containing her book They Come at Night. We also reviewed her book The Harper Pier Homestead in March, Outrun the Night in February, The Last Homestead in January, The Hartford Homestead last November and Final Light last October.
From Alex Korolov:
This is an EMP book, but I don’t know when it actually gets around to the EMP part of the story.
An EMP — electromagnetic pulse — is a type of event that takes out all electronics but leaves living things unharmed. It can be caused by a solar flare, a nuclear blast, an EMP generator, aliens … you name it.
I managed to get through the first three chapters, which are good for learning about the characters, but not much in terms of post-apocalyptic disaster action.
We meet Jane in the first chapter. Jane’s an author who writes thrillers and she’s currently at a writer’s retreat in Aspen with a handful of other authors. She’s enjoying the retreat and is enjoying the time away from home. Jane’s a single mother with a fifteen-year-old son. Her new best friend at the retreat is a gay man named Gary.
In the next chapter, Jane and some of the other writers have a little party. Then, in the chapter after that, Jane has a video conference call with her family back home. Her son’s fine and her parents who are taking care of him are doing fine too.
Anyway, that’s as far as I got. This story’s a little slow, so I’m not going to read anymore. I like my apocalyptic EMP books with a little more excitement from the get-go.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria discuss all ten books on YouTube in the video below: