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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. Legion by Tia Didmon
This is the first of six books in the Dragon Rules urban fantasy romance series. The other books are $2.99 each, and the sixth book will be coming out May 4, 2023. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Romel Madray:
The book opens with a prologue. Ten years ago, Legion, and Adara meet. Legion is a dragon and Adara is a druid. Adara tells Legion that this is the last time he will see her in her current form and Legion needs to be on his toes if he wants to defeat the dark dragons, as she won’t be around.
Then Adara drops the bombshell that she was supposed to be Legion’s mate and Legion is heartbroken.
The writing style is fast-paced, but the beginning prologue is a non sequitur. I had trouble understanding the backstory and had to pick through the prologue to figure out what was going on and the world setting.
I still don’t fully understand the backstory, but from what I can gather, Legion killed Adira. Adira was supposed to be Legion’s lover and mate, and she has been reincarnated-ish in the form of Mara.
Of the characters, Mara seems the most realistic, but the backstory lingers like a bad cough. The backstory just leaves things up in the air that I can’t figure out. The book also requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief, especially in the reactions of the characters, which makes it incongruous with the realistic setting.
The idea seems interesting, but I can’t figure out why certain things are happening. For hardcore paranormal romance fans willing to stick it out and familiar with the tropes or this author’s writing style, this may be an easier read, but for newcomers, it’s confusing.
9. The Grave Diggers by Chris Fritschi
This is the first of six books in The Grave Diggers dystopian science fiction series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Alex Korolov:
If you like action-packed post-apocalyptic zombie stories, I definitely recommend you read this one.
I only read the first chapter, and I’m already hooked.
Staff Sergeant Jack Tate is leading his squad of soldiers on a patrol to find out what happened to a mobile operations post — which can also be described as a cargo container dropped by a helicopter so soldiers can hide there and look out for zombies.
The author does a great job introducing the different soldiers in the squad, and building up tension within the group as they approach the operations post.
Without spoiling what happens, I’ll tell you I like the way the zombies behave. The older more rotting ones are slow and clunky, and the fresher zombies are fast, agile, and hungry for human flesh.
I’ll warn you that the violence in this book gets graphic fast, starting with chapter one, so this book might not be your thing if you’re squeamish about blood and guts.
I for one enjoy the fast pace of the story, but relish that the author takes the time to introduce the characters so you really sympathize with them, even if they’re about to become zombie food.
8. Born in Fire by K.F. Breene
This is the first book in the eleven book Demon Days, Vampire Nights World series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. K.F. Breene has been on this list before, we reviewed the first eight books of their Demon Days, Vampire Nights World Series back in July, 2021.
From Maria Korolov:
Reagan is a New Orleans bounty hunter. She wears black army boots and black leather pants, has a gun strapped to her leg, and a sword on her back. She’s a bad mama-jama. And she’s literally my favorite type of main character.
She’s got a magic power that she’s keeping secret from the local supernatural community, and the local pack of shifters is following her trying to figure out what kind of magical being she is. This annoys her, because it gets in the way of her bounty hunting. Her targets get skittish when there’s were-beings around.
See, the weres are the local representatives of the magical realm here on earth, policing things to make sure that the existence of supernatural creatures stays secret.
Meanwhile, Reagan works for the human authorities, a secret government agency that is also working to keep that same secret, but the two groups aren’t playing nicely with each other.
She’s after a vampire dealer today, and some other vampires showed up from the other realm, also looking for the same guy. She bags him first. Of course, she does. She punches him out, throws him over her shoulder, and heads out. But the other vampires catch up to her, there’s a big fight, and they grab the dealer away from her.
She needs that dealer. Badly. She wants to buy an air conditioner and was really looking forward to that paycheck.
I totally sympathize with her motivation. Plus, she must be really hot in all that leather she wears. I feel her pain.
I love love love this book. Reagan reminds me of Mazikeen, the demon bounty hunter played by Lesley-Ann Brandt in the Netflix show Lucifer. I love that show so much.
I first reviewed this book in the summer of 2021, and, as soon as the day’s work was done, I went back and finished it. And I can tell you that the novel moved well, the setting was rich and compelling, the characters fun to be with, and the big reveal about who the main character really is was very juicy. I wish there was a little less vampire romance — just once, I’d like a main character who says that she’ll never sleep with that horrible evil vampire and actually means it. I mean, is it so hard not to sleep with horrible evil vampires? I haven’t slept with a single one. It’s super easy.
But anyway, that quibble aside, there’s a lot of shooting, stabbing, and other types of killing in this book. Oh, and Reagan also makes a point of kicking in her boss’ office door when she visits to complain about something work-related. She’s kicked a lot of doors off their hinges. I love that about her.
After finishing the book, I went on to the other books in the series and I expect that you will, too.
The series reminds of Laurell Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, though with less sex and relationship drama. To be honest, as I got further into the Anita Blake series, there was less and less killing and more and more of Anita trying to maintain the peace between all her boyfriends. See, this is why bad-ass killers shouldn’t do long-term relationships, especially multiple long-term relationships. It seriously cuts down on your killing time. That’s definitely my plan for my next career as a hot, leather-pants-wearing international assassin. In fact, just to make sure I don’t get tied down and have all the goopy stuff get in the way, I’ll just kill everyone after I sleep with them…. and there’s the plan for my next book series. Give me a sec while I go draft some outlines…
Okay, I’m back. Other series that Demon Days, Vampire Nights World reminds me of include Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series, Eileen Wilks’ World of the Lupi, Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series, Jane Estep’s Elemental Assassin series, Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus series, and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.
So once you finish Born in Fire and the other books in this series, and want more, go check those out.
7. Pestilence by Laura Thalassa
This is the first of four books in The Four Horsemen fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
The book opens with a prologue in which the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death — show up and destroy the planet. Machines break when they ride past, the internet crashes, planes fall from the sky. The world slid into darkness, the Age of Man ended, and the Age of the Horseman has begun.
Then the story really gets going in year five of the horsemen. Sara is at the fire station. She’s a former firefighter. She and three fellow firefighters and drawing straws to see who stays behind and who gets to go. The one who stays is going to die. They have a plan to kill the ungodly sonuvabitch. Maybe she’s talking about one of the horsemen?
And Sara draws the short straw. Well, technically, they’re drawing matchsticks, and she gets the burned one.
The rest of the town evacuated earlier in the week, along with Sara’s entire family. She was supposed to meet up with them at her grandfather’s hunting lodge, but that’s not going to happen now.
The three other firefighters leave, and she’s alone with her survival pack and her shotgun. She might be doomed to die, but she’s going to take someone down with her.
The television still works — barely. She turns on the news and hears that Pestilence is moving through British Columbia, headed for the Pacific Ocean. Disease follows him his wake. She turns off the TV and heads out to the highway, to set up camp along the route he’s the likeliest to take.
She knows right away that he’s coming, because wolves begin the howl and the birds take flight, followed by raccoons, squirrels, and other animals. Then she hears the hoofbeats.
Pestilence is riding a white horse, and wears golden armor. She raises her shotgun, but hesitates to pull the trigger. Then she thinks of her family, of everyone she knows, and shoots. She fires at Pestilence then, once he falls, she shoots at the horse, in case it’s the horse that’s spreading the disease.
The shotgun doesn’t kill him. So she douses him in lighter fluid and sets him on fire. He dies slowly, burned alive inside his armor.
She goes to her camp, and tries to get some rest. The injured horse wandered off, but she doesn’t have the strength to go after it and finish it. She’ll do it in the morning.
But in the morning, Pestilence is there. She wakes up with his hand around her throat.
Turns out, lots of people had the idea of killing him. But he doesn’t enjoy being nearly killed. And he’s going to make her suffer.
I really like Sara and am getting caught up in the book. Except that I have a suspicion that she and Pestilence are going to get together in the end. Okay, it’s more than a suspicion — I read the book’s description. And it says that in order to save the world, Sara will have to sacrifice her heart.
I hate that. I wish she’d just be able to kill him, without any mushy romantic stuff getting in the way.
But I might look past that and keep reading, because I like the writing style very much, and Sara is a kick-ass character.
6. The Endless War by D.K. Holmberg
This is a collection of the first three of five books in The Endless War coming of age fantasy series. All the books are in Kindle Unlimited.
D.K. Holmberg is a regular on this list. Earlier this month we reviewed his Elemental Academy series. In November, we reviewed The Teralin Sword, a box set of the first three of six books in The Teralin Sword epic fantasy series. In September, we reviewed his The Lost Prophecy box set. We reviewed The Cloud Warrior Saga box set back in July, and, later that same month, Path of the Flame, the first of five books in The Dragon Thief coming of age fantasy series. This past May, we reviewed Unbonded, the first of five books in the First of the Blades epic fantasy series. Finally, in April, we reviewed The Risen Shard, the first of eight books in The Chain Breaker epic fantasy series.
From Maria Korolov:
I’ve read other books by this author, and I’m a fan of epic fantasy — though not as much of coming of age books. I have no patience for young people and their drama.
The first chapter features Jasn, a magic-wielding warrior who’s lost his true love and is now looking for death in battle. But no matter how much time he spends on the front, he’s still alive. Then a friend from his past, who’s now in a leadership position, asks him to leave the front and take on another assignment. A very different assignment — and one that might help him learn why the woman he loved had died. That’s a promising beginning, and I like the fact that Jasn isn’t a child.
But then, in the second chapter, we get Ciara’s point of view. She seems to be a child or teenager or maybe a young woman with the magical ability to sense water. And she’s one of the people that Jasn has been leading the war against. Her village is constantly at risk of being destroyed by Jasn’s people. The land is a dry desert, and they’re also short of water. There’s a drought, and the rains aren’t coming. The land to south is even drier — it’s called the waste for a reason. But Ciara suspects that there’s water beyond it, if they could get across. If they don’t go, the entire village could die, but her father, the village’s leader, won’t let her go.
I like both of the main characters. I like the setup of the story so far. It’s atmospheric, and the world is fully realized. I’m getting pulled in, and may well come back to it this weekend.
5. Sin & Chocolate by K.F. Breene
This is the first of six books in the Demigods of San Francisco urban fantasy romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. K.F. Breene has been on this list before, we reviewed the first eight books of their Demon Days, Vampire Nights World Series back in July, 2021.
From Romel Madray:
Alexis Price is in luck — she has found a bargain Burberry bag in one of the shops in the dual society zone. The dual society zone is where non-magical and magical people interact, and it’s not a good part of town. Only derelicts and those hiding from the magical government spend time there.
Unfortunately, she can’t afford it, as she has two wards to support and can’t afford to dream big. She has to be content with dreaming small. In a world of magic users and non-magic users, Alexis is at the bottom of the magical users’ social ladder. To make matters worse, she does not have any outward signs of being a magic user, such as wings, fangs, or fur. She leaves the shop and crosses the road nonchalantly, but a car is approaching fast.
Keiran is the one driving the car, and it isn’t just any car — it’s a Ferrari. He isn’t just any playboy with a Ferrari, he’s a demigod. Kieran is driving in the dual society zone to meet up with his crew. He notices Alexis and decides to teach her a lesson about jaywalking.
He stops his car just short of leaving her as roadkill because he remembers his dead mother as he’s about to run her over.
Alexis is fuming mad and when she looks at Keiran, she leaves his soul bared open and vulnerable. He has never felt anything like the strength of her magic.
Alexis gives Keiran a telling-off about pedestrian right of way rules — and we find out that Alexis doesn’t know that she has magic. So that’s why she sticks around in the dual society zone.
Alexis goes to a non-magical bed and bath shop, where she is pondering getting a blanket for Mordecai, one of her wards. She notices that someone is following her and quickly buys the blanket and races back to her car. Keiran is the one following her — Alexis tries to mace him, but the bottle is empty. They have a bit of banter, and she is wondering if he will catch up to her later to kill her.
It’s hard to get oriented in this book. I had difficulty understanding what the setting meant, and there is an inconsistency in the characters’ actions and thoughts.
I like the female lead but I can’t get a read on the male character, other than that he’s the tall dark handsome stranger. For paranormal romance, I would give it an average rating
4. Wicked Moons by Ruby Raine
This is the first of four books in the Wicked Good Witches paranormal urban fantasy series. The other books are $9.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Christina Brown:
The story focuses on three sibling witches who duty it is to protect their community and keep their magic safe, living in a mansion on Demon Isle. One is half werewolf and trying to keep the family together. The sister is riddled with anxiety and her desire for her vampire friend. One of the brothers is ready to ditch town because he wants a real life and he’s super sexy and everyone is in love with him, how annoying.
The story shifts point of view a lot and it seems to follow the three siblings equally. Michael, the younger of the two brothers is an empath and also has the ability to read death. He lays his hand on a body and can tell how they died. Except this time, in his vision he sees his mother potentially involved, but she’s been dead for a number of years.
It’s an interesting story line with a bit of a Practical Magic feel with an old enchanted mansion in a quaint town, but the shifting point of view is hard to follow and I’m having a hard time finding a character I want to stick around with. I might give this one a few more pages and see where it goes.
3. Something Found: A Coin by Troy Aaron Ratliff
From Maria Korolov:
Todd runs and owns an art gallery in Key West, Florida, and is well-known in the area for being able to find lost objects. We learn about him in the prologue — and about that fact that once, when out looking for things, Todd stumbled across a bloody crowbar — the key evidence in the case against a murderer.
Then, in chapter one, Todd is riding his bike to the beach. He’s got his shovel and fanny pack and metal detector and we find out, in great detail, how he goes about his searching, and why, and his relationships with the people in town.
It’s a very slow beginning, and very atmospheric in a warm, lazy, beachy kind of way. If you’re looking for a cozy book to warm you up this weekend, this is that book.
Then he finds a mysterious coin and decides to make it the center of a new art project.
I like the story. It’s very slow, slower than I usually like it, but it’s so pleasant and engaging that I might stick with it. And, with the winter storm approaching my house this weekend, I can use some sun and warmth, even if it just virtual.
2. Forsaken Kingdom by J.R. Rasmussen
This is the first of three books in The Last Prince coming of age fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. J.R. Rasmussen has been on this list before, back in May of this year we reviewed A Dream of Fire.
From Maria Korolov:
Wardin, 12, is studying to be a battlemage at a magistery. He’s in the yard, practicing fighting with this fellow students, when the archmagister’s dog shows up at the yard. The dog has come to get him. He doesn’t know why. Maybe his father is dead, and he’s about to get the bad news. If it was good news, she wouldn’t have sent for him.
Wardin was right. It is bad news. His father, King Draven, was captured three days ago. He’s scheduled to the be executed — but the archmagister doesn’t know when. Their kingdom, Eyrdon, is no longer a sovereign state. It is now a barony of Harth, and King Bramwell’s oldest son will be its lord.
Next, King Bramwell will have the Eyrdon searched and find and destroy the magistery. Except that Wardin’s father was prepared for this. He let himself be captured near an abandoned mining village that was recently razed and burned — and charred books and one enchanted inkwell were found in the wreckage.
The archmagister tells Wardin that his father must have realized that the war was lost, and did the only thing he could to protect the school — and his son. The school is the last one left in the kingdom, since the others were all dissolved and magic was declared illegal. Anyone practicing it would be considered a traitor.
I like this beginning. I like Wardin, and I like the archmage. I might stick with this, and see how the school is able to defend itself against the tyrant who took over their kingdom.
1. The Afterlife of Alice Watkins by Matilda Scotney
This is the first of two books in The Afterlife of Alice Watkins time travel mystery series. The sequel is $0.99, and both books are in Kindle Unlimited.
From Terrence Smith:
The book follows a woman in her sixties as she apparently dies and wakes up in the distant future on a space station. This is essentially a reverse Outlander. She ends up being awoken by a Doctor Jim Grossmith, who believes her to be a renowned scientist of her time named Doctor Alexis Langley, as Alice apparently resembles her in a new, younger body.
The concept of being transported to the future is nothing new. This will be a familiar premise to anyone who love the animated sci-fi comedy, Futurama. This version is taking itself more seriously.
The story is framed as a recollection of events handed by Alice to her granddaughter, in much a way that the events of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom books are given by protagonist John Carter to his nephew.
Alice has always lived a sheltered life. She was never allowed to even shave by her mother, and was told to beware of any kind of raunchy language, and she believed whatever anyone told her. She married at seventeen and never had any aspirations. Being in the future might give her a second chance to figure out what she wants.
This book is not my personal cup of tea, but I can recommend it to older women looking for a space-faring adventure. The genre needs more stories for this demographic.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria, Romel and Terrence discuss all ten books in the video below: