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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 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].
10. Tumbled Tales by Marisca Pichette and 22 other authors
From Terrence Smith:
The idea for this anthology was editor Hannah Terao’s desire for stories that would push beyond the tropes of genre fiction, and as a response to the deluge of sequels that dominate the shelves.
What we have here are a number of fantastical stories that, if not entirely unpredictable, are certainly entertaining. The first story, “The Rules of the Game” by Marisca Pichette, follows a team of gritty adventurers as a hooded guide gathers them. He claims to have found a way to change the course of history using the subway system of late 19th century London. The final solution is a twist that asks what really alters the course of history.
The second story, “Eat Me,” by Mike Morgan, is a fantastical tale of animal exploitation in which giant gelatinous monsters are used to take care of a modern city’s waste disposal. While protagonist Sanele and the monster may at first have echoes of the Rancor and its keeper from the Kevin J. Anderson story in Star Wars: Tales from Jabba’s Palace his reasons for keeping the creature alive in the face of potential decommissioning is not entirely altruistic. The monster is seen as a means to an end, and while it does have a violent and destructive history, the story also reminds readers that it is not entirely the creature’s fault. In a way, it is purer than its human handlers.
Other stories include a mashup of science-fiction and Celtic folklore, a luchador wrestling werewolves in World War II, and a talk show with a vampire, Frankenstein’s monster, and a werewolf.
This anthology is in my to read collection. If you’re waiting in the car for someone or in line at the grocery store, then these are some good quick stories to ingest.
9. Wolf Pact by M Guida
From Maria Korolov:
I started reading Wolf Princess last summer, and found it cheesy but fun. I can’t remember ever finishing that book, but I have high hopes for this one.
Remi is getting her niece ready for her wedding. While she’s telling her niece how beautiful she looks, we get a quick recap of what happened previously. Some king died, some demon wolves had shown up, some relatives have been killed — there’s a lot packed into the first few paragraphs.
I’m thinking that if you want to read this book, you should probably go back and read the Wolf Princess trilogy first. All those books are in Kindle Unlimited.
But I’m going to press on. As the wedding progresses, we get more info about people we don’t know. A dragon with the head of lion shows up for the wedding to protect the bride, alongside the demon wolves. We learn that someone else is in a coma.
The Archangel Michael is here, to officiate the wedding. There are vampires in the audience, as is a fae queen.
We also learn that Remi is a wolf without a home. Her little cabin in the woods was burned down during some battle or other.
Then, at the end of the wedding, her niece, who is now also the queen of something, asks Remi for a favor. She wants Remi to run the Dark Moon Academy. It was corrupted by the previous management and many professors left. The niece wants Remi to bring them back and restore the school to its former owner. Remi had been at the school before it had been ruined.
Remi had been away a long time and no longer has any clout to speak of. She’s also an introvert who has problems being around people. But she promises her niece that she’ll give it a try.
As far as I can tell, Remi has no management skills or any relevant experience whatsoever. Typical nepo hire.
But the new job does have one thing going for it — Remi has a crush on its former headmaster. If she can convince him to come back, the other professors will come back as well.
I have a feeling that if I knew and cared about these characters I would be more invested in the story than I am. But I do have to say that it’s very readable, and the main character is likeable, so if you’ve already read the other books, go ahead and give this one a shot.
8. Song of Echoes by R.E. Palmer
This is the first of three books in the Song Of Echoes, an epic fantasy series. The other two books are $4.99 but are included on Kindle Unlimited. This is the first time this author has been on our Free Friday list.
From Lou Lyons:
This was a little different to the books I would ordinarily choose, but I thought I would try something different. I was not disappointed.
I read the first chapter and really enjoyed the way the writer set the scene, without lingering too long on descriptions and places. It seems to move at a good pace.
The beginning tells the tale of the three maidens, daughters of the gods, and how they venture into a new realm to explore it. However, as they find only chaos, they begin to sing of their desire for order.
The tale goes on to tell us that their singing helped to fill the world, bringing fish, birds, and other creatures to settle in the habitats they had created. But this is corrupted by the evil one, who is said to have committed vile acts so terrible that the tale doesn’t speak of them. I found this was effective at drawing attention into the book, as it creates tension, and the ominous ending to the tale only adds to this as we are told that it is uncommon people can listen to the tale until the end.
Then we meet Jerrum and Toryn, who are trapped in their current location and will be punished if they leave or go into the nearby woods. One option is to join the Archonian Guard. But Toryn is weak for his age and the odds of passing the trial are slim.
I liked the banter between the two characters, especially the differences in opinion about venturing out and exploring the peak that Toryn can see in the distance and the planned journey he makes in his head.
So far, I think the story moves at a good pace, and the possibility of Toryn’s adventure intrigues me. I would definitely continue reading this book.
7. League of Gallize Shifters by Dianna Love
This is the first two of five books in the League Of Gallize Shifters series. The other books are $2.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. Diana Love is a New York Times bestselling author who has been on our Free Friday list before. This past March, we reviewed the Treoir Dragon Chronicles, a box set of the first three books in the nine-book Treoir Dragon Chronicles of the Belador urban fantasy series.
From Maria Korolov:
I don’t like books about werewolves — especially books with bare-chested men on the covers. But, on the other hand, the author is a New York Times bestseller.
We start out with Cole, a wolf shifter on a mission in Metropolitan Spartanburg. He used to be a normal human, and in love with a human woman. Now he’s a Gallize wolf shifter. I get the feeling we’re supposed to know what Gallize shifters are, but I didn’t see any other series set in the same universe on her Amazon author page or on her website. I read through some of the reviews, and it looks like this series might be part of a bigger universe — but I’m not sure how specifically it fits in with the others.
Anyway, we find out that eight years prior, an undercover reporter exposed the supernatural community to the world, and battles broke out everywhere as human hunted the shifters and the shifters retaliated. Then a ceasefire was declared after some powerful mages got involved.
Anyway, Cole is looking for a rogue shifter pack of drug dealers. He’s got two team members backing him up, but are staying hidden. He’s also got a personal motivation to be on this mission. One of his teammates, a bear shifter, is missing. They’d fought side by side for six years, and he’s rumored to have become a murderer and joined the drug dealers’ pack.
Cole suspects that the drug dealers had set up his friend for the murder.
But as he’s getting into position, a homeless person wanders into the warehouse that Cole is observing. Cole breaks away from the plan in order to rescue him. He sneaks into the warehouse, finds the drug, spots the homeless person — and a bomb.
I really liked the beginning. It’s tense, well-paced, and reads like a thriller novel. I might stick with it.
6. The Magni by S. D. Unwin
This is a stand-alone science fiction thriller and it’s the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.
From Maria Korolov:
Art would rather be on his couch, watching TV. He hasn’t worn his interview clothes — a polyester jacket and unironed chinos — in a decade. But here he is, in an office in Seattle’s Space Needle. They reached out to him because they do modeling and analytics of capital markets and think he can be useful somehow. But he doesn’t have any experience in this area.
In the next chapter, we switch to Rox’s point of view. She’s running currency simulations in an office in Seattle and marveling at the fact that she looks exactly like some famous person from history. What are the odds?
Then we’re back with Art. He’s in his hotel now, talking with his wife about the job. She wants him to take it — it’s better than his dead-end boring job in Knoxville. And she’s a math teacher and can teach anywhere.
Then we’re back with Rox, who briefly bumps into a homeless person outside a drug store. She tries to give the woman money, but she won’t take it.
Then back to Art again. He and his wife go to a party that his would-be employer is throwing. And he finds out why the company wants him. A paper he’d written about atomic force microscope design was truly innovative. Nobody else had ever noticed, but these guys did.
Then back to Rox. She gets a mysterious phone call, from that homeless woman. How did she ever get her number? Rox is confused, but the homeless woman hangs up before she can explain anything.
Then we flash back to 1992, where a woman is collecting samples from a cemetery. Tissue samples. Gross.
Then back to Rox. She’s at work again, starting at a picture of Marie Curie. Why does she look exactly like her? Then her boss comes in, wanting to know why she was running facial recognition software, and if she thinks she’s really Marie Curie. Of course, Rox doesn’t. But her boss fires her anyway, with no explanation.
Okay, it’s a pretty tense beginning, and a lot of mysterious things are happening. But they happen very quickly, and I’m not really getting a good sense of the characters, their motives, or what is happening to them. So I’m probably not going to stick with it.
But I think that a lot of people will like this book if they’re into slow-paced techno thrillers.
5. Dragon Shadow by Alicia Wolfe
This is the first of six books in the Reclaiming the Fire urban fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.
Jade is a twenty-five year old half-shifter that lives her days in post-Fae New York as a thief. Yes, you read that right. This story is set in a post-Fae world where the Fae have fully migrated to the human realm and now magic is no longer a secret. The Fae basically rule the world of the rich with their power and it’s very interesting to see how not only their mere presence and power changed the way the human world works but also the artifacts they brought with them.
Through the first few chapters of this story, Jade and her sister Ruby are on a mission. They have infiltrated a rich man’s house in search of a powerful object their client asked for. As a half-shifter, Jade is the one doing all the dirty business pretending to be a bartender and then infiltrating the back rooms when no one is watching. At first she just comes across a few protective barriers but she easily bypasses them. Once she reaches the safe that holds the mirror she’d been looking for, she comes across a set of powerful and mysterious antlers. Curious about their power — and how much she can sell them for — she decides to take them as well and leave, but on her way out gargoyle guards start chasing her. Apparently, what she was stealing was way more powerful and valuable than she anticipated.
With her sister Ruby working as her getaway witch, they easily manage to get away on her broom, but as they’re making their way back home they realize that something is going on with the High Lords of the Fae. First, one of them had been invited to the party they had infiltrated, something that’s not that common. Then, when they were flying across the sky and seeing the Fae castles, they saw a lot of activity there, but why would any of that involve them? They’re just a pair of thieves…but I’m sure they’ll eventually get drawn into it.
Overall, I completely loved the writing style and the fast-pace of the story. I really enjoyed how Jade and Ruby actually feel like real siblings with the way they act around each other, and I would love to know more about this magical version of New York City and I can’t deny I’m interested in discovering what’s going on with the Fae. I’m definitely going to continue reading this as soon as I can.
4. Altdorf by J. K. Swift
This is the first of two books in The Forest Knights historic fantasy series set in medieval Switzerland. The second book is $5.99 and is not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the first time we have seen this author on our Free Friday list.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m a fan of epic fantasy, and am also a big fan of the start of this book. It begins with demons driving a flock of evil spirits and twisted minions over the Alps into the valleys below, spreading disease, insanity, and chaos. It’s the year 1314, and people are hiding in their homes, shutters latched and doors barred. But it’s not really clear to me if the demons are real, or just a metaphor for the winter wind.
Erich is one of the people who’s familiar with the demons’ wind, but as the book starts, he’s not sure what worries him more — the wind, or the mysterious six horsemen who appeared with it.
He’s a highwayman, part of a gang hiding in the woods around the road. And those six men are wearing a lot of expensive armor. Erich has been a brigand for 15 years now. They have their attacks down to a science — first, the arrows, then a rope stretched across the road to unhorse the riders.
But this time, something goes wrong. Erich gives the signal to attack, but the archers don’t fire their arrows. Instead, the riders turn on their attackers and wipe most of them out. Even Erich himself, as he’s notching an arrow to take out the lead rider, is captured.
The armed men then discuss what to do with him. As the leader of this gang of highwaymen, there’s probably a reward for Erich somewhere. But taking him with them could slow the riders down. Their leaders decides not to kill Erich because he’s wearing a cross, and he doesn’t kill Christians. At least, not in cold blood. But one of the other men cuts off three of his fingers, making him unable to fire a bow. The others complain that Erich wasn’t killed outright, and think their leader is getting soft.
Then we meet a druid priestess, Seraina, who hears Erich’s scream, and understands that this is an omen. Someone — or something — she knows as the Catalyst is coming.
In the next chapter, we switch to the point of view of Leopold, a young duke in Salzburg. His father, King Albrecht, had recently been assassinated, and his older brother has now taken over. I just looked it up and there was, in fact, a King Albrecht in Austria, but he was assassinated in 1308. And Leopold and his older brother are both mentioned on the history sites as well, with Leopold having historically been the pollical decision-maker behind his weak older brother. So it looks like this book is loosely based on actual European history.
There’s a lot of discussion of political maneuverings, battles, and attempts to find the old king’s murderer, one of their cousins.
Then, in the next chapter, we see Leopold meeting with that very cousin, and bringing him food. Apparently, Leopold had promised the cousin lands and titles when his brother became king. Leopold is not going to keep that promise. Instead, he tells his cousin that there’s been a Papal edict put out, and he will need to stay in hiding.
There’s a lot of history and politics here, which I’m kind of enjoying, but also, I don’t know which is real history and what is fictional, and that bothers me a little bit. Well, all historical fiction has that problem. It’s definitely an unusual time period for a historical fantasy book. But writing is vivid, and highly engaging, and I might well continue with it this weekend.
3. Rite of Passage by Tim Rangnow
This is the first of three books in the Watchers urban fantasy series. The other books are $2.99 to $4.99 but are in Kindle Unlimited. The third book isn’t out yet but is scheduled to be released this coming November and is now available for pre-order. This is the first time this author has been on our Free Friday list.
From Maria Korolov:
According to the author’s note, the characters in this book first appeared in Rising Storm, book eight of the Jack Dahlish urban fantasy series. I like the looks of those books — and they’re all in Kindle Unlimited. If you’re a completist, you might want to check those out first.
Allison is in her car, pulling up to the courthouse. She’s a U.S. Marshall, and has a captured fugitive in the back seat and a rookie partner next to her. She’s annoyed. Not only because the fugitive smelled bad and kept kicking the back of her seat for the past two hours but because having to babysit the rookie means that she can’t go on the really good cases. The special ones. The ones not part of her official job description.
She even had to give up the special glasses she normally carries. The ones that let her see supernatural creatures.
After she checks in on her fugitive and his paperwork, she heads up to her cubicle. And she’s got a new assignment. A special one. With that Jack Dahlish guy from the other series.
I love this premise. I love the setting. I love this character. I will definitely be reading the rest of the book this weekend — and probably all of the author’s other books, as well.
And maybe I’ll read the Dahlish series first, since it looks like he’ll be playing a major role in this book.
2. The Unlucky Charms by T.M. Cromer
This is the first two of six books in The Unlucky Charms paranormal romance series. The other books are $5.99 each but are all in Kindle Unlimited. The sixth book isn’t out yet, but is scheduled to be released next summer and is available for pre-order. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.
From Maria Korolov:
Piper can do magic, as can her whole family, including her cousin and best friend Liz. But Piper prefers to use it only for important things, so she refuses to let Liz cast a spell to lighten her suitcase. She’s getting ready for a flight to Ireland.
As her cousin helps her pack, they banter about their respective love lives. Her cousin just met someone great and the backstory makes me think that there’s a prequel out there somewhere. Okay, I looked it up, and there is. The prequel series is the 12-book The Thorne Witches. And, wow, the first book in that series has over 9,000 positive reviews. You might want to go check those books out — they’re all in Kindle Unlimited.
But anyway, back to Piper. She plans to pretend to be a normal human on this trip, and not even use her real last name, which is Thorne. She’s looking forward to time off from corporate headaches. Also, she wants to avoid her ex-boyfriend and his pregnant wife.
She wants a baby of her own, but she’s sworn off men after her most recent dating disaster. She’s thinking about artificial insemination.
Then we switch to Cian’s point of view. He’s performing at a pub, singing about a love gone wrong, when he sees a black-haired beauty walk in. He can immediately tell she’s magical because of the aura around her. He chats her up after is set is over, and they flirt, and sparks fly. He walks her back to her room at the B&B, kisses her goodnight, and, like a gentleman, goes back to his job.
She doesn’t realize that Cian knows that she’s a witch, nor that his family used to have magic powers but were somehow robbed of them.
The next money, when she comes down for breakfast, he offers to be her tour guide.
Of course, they’re both smitten with each other. Of course, she also knows that he’s a player and doesn’t think there’s anything serious in it. Also, she doesn’t believe in love at first sight like the rest of her family. She believes in free will and plans to use it.
I like that about her. But I also suspect that she’ll eventually end up with the guy anyway. I also don’t like all the romantic mushiness in the book. I have a cold. cold heart and have no patience for young people’s romantic shenanigans.
I won’t be sticking with it. But if you like cozy magical romances, this could be right up your alley.
1. Descent into the Void by Steve P. Vincent
The first of four books in The Frontier Saga, a military sci-fi series. The other books are $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The fourth book will be released in October this year but is available for pre-order. This is the first time we have seen this author on our free Friday list, but you might recognize his name from the USA Today bestseller lists.
From Alex Mueller:
The story begins with our protagonist getting a front row seat to watch a poor colony on a distant planet be battered into rubble. While humanity might have reached for the stars and succeeded, it hasn’t solved any problems. In fact, it only seems to have created more. And those problems are everywhere.
In space there are not only hostile aliens to deal with, but also rogue elements of humanity. Pirates, rebels, take your pick. The terms seem pretty interchangeable in this book.
Earth itself isn’t much better — people live in squalor and the only way out is to enlist in the military. Damned if you don’t, probably damned if you do, but maybe you’ll be okay.
Society’s not completely heartless, though. Hard work and sacrifice are still recognized and rewarded. So that’s a nice touch.
This book provides an interesting look into a dystopian future — life is hard, there are challenges and dangers, but it’s not without hope that it can get better. It is a thrilling piece of science fiction. Action, suspense, betrayal, this book has it all. And just in the first few chapters.
This is a captivating read set in an interesting world and one I look forward to continuing.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
And watch Maria and Alex discuss all ten books in the video below: