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. What the Heart Wants by Kelli McCracken
This is the first of six books in the Soulmate paranormal romance series. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
The story begins with Dylan McBride, one of our two main characters, having a weird dream about Armageddon, an angel, and a girl that might as well be the love of his life. He’s basically transfixed in her beauty and realizes that his feelings and desires for this angel are stronger than what he’s ever felt for anyone before. The only downside? She’s not real…or at least he doesn’t think she is until we move on to the first chapter of the story and meet our second main character.
In the first chapter we get to meet Heaven, the angel from Dylan’s dream. She and her sisters Faith and Hope are on a plane to Los Angeles for a friend’s wedding. Just like Dylan, Heaven wakes up from a weird dream with a strange guy she can’t stop thinking about. What’s interesting here is that it’s not the first time these strange dreams have happened. Her sister Faith starts teasing her about it and wondering just how hot the dude from her dreams is, starting a small fight between the sisters that makes Heaven question her life choices. Which is a great way to show us the competitive dynamic between the sisters.
Once they’re in Los Angeles, they go meet their friend Chelsea–the one who’s getting married–and go to the wedding boutique to try their dresses on. By the end of this little interaction, Heaven discovers that she will be paired with one of Chelsea’s fiance’s best friends, reminding her that no matter who she met he wouldn’t be the guy from her dreams. In the third and last chapter I read, we go back to Dylan, who’s back in Santa Barbara, the beach where he grew up. There, he interacts with his mom after months of being on tour and discovers that the weird dreams he’s been having about his angel aren’t new. Apparently, he’s been having those dreams since he was a kid, which makes things a lot more complicated.
At the end of the day, the first three chapters of this book were okay but I’m afraid I’m not the target audience for this book. I don’t really care about the fated mates trope — at least not in a modern day setting — and I just didn’t really care about what’s going on with the main characters. In other words, I’m not interested enough to continue reading this book so I won’t. But if you’re into slow, fated-mates romance books then this might be right up your alley!
4. Safe Haven by Christopher Artinian
This is the first of 11 books in the Safe Haven zombie apocalypse series. The other books are $0.99 to $4.00 each, but the series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Alex Mueller:
Safe Haven is a grim piece that hits just a little too close to home in this age.
The story begins in a dark and depressing manner; with our leads, a brother and sister duo, watching their step-father slowly die. That’s bad enough on its own, and unfortunately, it’s something that I feel a lot of people can relate to.
But then it gets worse.
The step-father isn’t dying of cancer, or kidney failure, or even old age. Nope. The poor man’s come down with a zombie virus. He’s going to die, and then he’s going to do the typical zombie thing by coming back to life and going on a murderous rampage. That means they’re going to have to kill the poor man again. And that’s exactly what happens.
People don’t get to let their loved ones pass away gently. No. They need to shove a needle into their skull to make sure the dead stay dead.
Literally no one in this story is having a good time, and this isn’t even the worst of it.
Naturally, the story’s beginning is just one example of what’s going on in the world. Zombies are never isolated incidents. Where there’s one, there are going to be more. Billions to be exact.
Interestingly, the situation hasn’t spiralled into an ‘everyone for themselves’ senario. Society is more or less intact, and there are measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus. It’s grim, but things could get better. A lot like real life these last few years.
But like real life, there is always the possibility that things can still get much, much worse. And again, they do, because we find out the brother in our protagonist duo might be infected.
Safe Haven is certainly an interesting take on a zombie apocalypse, taking place just before the apocalypse itself. While it’s interesting to see society slide towards its inevitable collapse while desperately trying to claw its way back from the point of no return, it’s still a little two close to reality for my liking. While lovers of zombies will certainly get a kick out of this book, I myself do not intend to continue with it.
3. Steamborn by Eric Asher
This is the first of seven books in the Steamborn Series of steampunk books.. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Terrence Smith:
Sixteen-year-old Jacob lives in a desert city, in a dystopian world that borrows elements from steampunk and Westerns. Anyone who is familiar with the steampunk genre in general will find themselves right at home.
The city in which Jacob resides is divided into the Lowlands, which was once the main city, and the Highlands, where the privileged now reside. The city has built walls to protect itself from the giant insect-like creatures that often try to attack. While the Highlands have a high stone wall, the Lowlands on the outskirts of the city have their walls in a much flimsier state, leaving the struggling class residing there more vulnerable.
Jacob comes off as a likable character. He often steals at the market, but it is to help his employer and eccentric scientific mentor, Charles, as well as to care for his ailing father. Jacob is also kind to a spider-like creature that ends up on his shoulder, protesting to his mentor that it is not poisonous. Jacob also has a friend, Alice, who gets irritated with her, but nonetheless loves him, so long as he does not step on her toes at dance rehearsal.
Once the Lowlands are ravaged by the invaders, Jacob will have to go on an adventure that will include uncovering a dangerous conspiracy.
The main character and the steampunk setting is reminiscent of Disney’s criminally underrated animated film, Treasure Planet, which sees protagonist Jim Hawkins go on an adventure to help his own family. The rebellious youth with a secret heart of gold resembles Jim, and his relationship with his mentor also gives me Marty and Doc Brown vibes from Back to the Future. Great Scott!
I was almost immediately drawn into this world, and the title will be on my ever-growing “To-Read” list.
2. Stalking their Mate by Tamsin Baker
This is the second of five books in the Perfect Pairs paranormal romance series. The other books are $3.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. We reviewed the first book in the series, Prowling their Mate, this past June.
From Maria Korolov:
I don’t want to review the second book in the series, so as not to give away any spoilers for the first, so here is my review of the first book:
As I frequently explain in this column, I’m not a fan of romance. I have a cold, cold heart. I’m particularly not a fan of books where the woman has multiple guys. That just seems like so much work. And so much drama. I hate drama.
When this book starts, Tyler is at a dance club with his non-identical twin brother and his sister, depressed. He’s tired of meaningless sex. He’s 32 already, and he should have found his fated mate by now and had a family.
He’s a mountain lion shape-shifter. His whole family is. And they live in a small town at the base of the Canadian Rockies.
Oh, and since his brother is his twin, they both have the same fated mate. They’ll have to share a woman. Which sucks, since he and his brother hate sharing anything. Except they still live together. And Brandon, his brother, likes to bring girls home.
Then we switch to Laura’s point of view. She has to go pick up her sister from Brandon’s house.
When she gets to the house – which is big and expensive looking — she meets Tyler in the driveway and sparks immediately fly. Literal sparks. Then she goes inside to get her sister and meets Brandon. And more sparks fly.
Anyway, she cleans up her sister and takes her home.
Then we switch to Brandon’s point of view. He’s figured out that Laura’s their fated mate. And he’s not happy about it. He’s not ready to settle down.
Oh, the drama. It’s too much drama for me already. And the book has barely gotten going yet.
It looks like the plot of the book is going to be trying to convince Laura, a human — and a vet — to go out with both of them, and to get her used to the idea that they’re shapeshifters.
Fortunately, Tyler’s mom’s dog has had a run-in with a coyote, so Tyler has an excuse to go visit Laura at her office. He shows up without an appointment at Laura’s clinic instead of taking the dog to see its regular vet. I hate it when animals become pawns in personal dramas.
I’m not sticking with the book. But, as you can probable imagine, it’s very readable and promises to get very sexy very fast.
1. Desolation’s Diary by Colton Lively
From Maria Korolov:
I’m not a fan of EMP survival books, so I’m not looking forward to this one.
The book features Mindy and Nick, twins who suddenly find themselves in a work without modern conveniences because an EMP blast took out all electronics.
This is a very popular genre on our Free Friday list, but it kind of hits a little to close too home for me these days.
When the book starts, Mindy and Nick are 23, and have recently lost their parents. They’re now at a beach in the Florida Keys. They’re finishing up a two-week vacation and plan to fly back to Michigan the next day. Their farm needs them. Specifically, their twin foals are about to be born.
In the next chapter, Mindy gets a call from their property manager, whom she has a crush on. And they discuss politics. Something weird is happening in Russia.
Oh, no. One of the things that can cause an EMP blast is a nuclear attack.
I don’t like where this is going.
But no. It turns out that Russia has been suffering a series of blackouts that have affected much of the country, and they’re blaming one of their international enemies. Nick and Mindy discuss what they would do if a power outage like that happened to them. Mindy thinks they’ll be fine, because they have generators and solar. But Nick thinks that society will collapse.
Then the blackouts start hitting the United States, starting with Alaska, then moving on into Canada. It doesn’t sound like nuclear weapons are the cause. In fact, nobody knows what’s causing this.
In the fifth chapter, they get in their car and start driving home. Because of Nick’s paranoia they get cash and stock up supplies and gas just ahead of the crowds.
This is a very readable book. I can see why it’s at the top of Amazon’s list today. But it’s not for me. When I read for fun, I want either light, escapist fluff or fun, cartoony escapist violence fluff, not things that sound like they might actually happen any moment.
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: