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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.
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. Caged by Sophie Davis
This is the second book of eight in the Talented Saga young adult dystopian series. The first book, Talented, is also free today, and the other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
Natural disasters have caused nuclear waste to contaminate the entire world. Marine life is no longer edible. Animals, bugs, and plants develop awful deformities. And the next set of children do too.
The deformities the children develop grant them super powers. A hundred years later, these super children have dwindled in number and are organized into training programs by a government department known as T.O.X.I.C.
The protagonist is about to graduate from this X-Men-like academy. One night she is rudely awakened by a hazing ritual welcoming her to a new program called “Hunters.”
She has an affectionate relationship with her boyfriend and I read the blurb so I know that those two will be separated.
But I don’t like the writing style and there seems to be a lot of teenage girl wish fulfillment going on here… so, no, I won’t be back. Not that there’s anything wrong with teenage girls and their wishes! It’s just not for me.
2. Ink Witch by Lindsey Sparks
This is the first book in the six-book Kat Dubois Chronicles urban fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
This isn’t the first time Lindsey Sparks has been on this list. We reviewed her book Legacy of the Lost back in June, 2022. And it’s not the first time this particular book has been on this list either — we previously reviewed ith in July of 2021.
From Maria Korolov:
Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres. Kick-ass women on the cover are my preferred book cover. Leather pants are one of my favorite style choices. Not personally, of course — leather pants are unwearable in real life. Hot, difficult to put on, and they make a loud noise when you walk. Plus, they have no stretch, so you can’t really kick ass in them. But they look good on book covers, is what I’m saying. If they ever take a picture of me for a book cover — say, after I embark on my next career as an international ninja assassin — I plan to wear leather pants. Of course, if I’m on the cover of a book, it means that my secret will be out and I’ve been arrested. Mental note: when the cops show up to drag me to prison, ask them to wait a sec so I can change into some leather pants and a leather jacket, so when they parade me, handcuffed and defiant, in front of the news cameras, I’ll look cool.
But I digress.
Kat Dubois is a retired immortal god assassin who owns a tattoo parlor and occasionally reads cards for a living. And she’s also a god of time. Specifically a demigoddess, descended from an ancient Egyptian god.
Then, during a reading for a client, she discovers that the pictures on her cards have changed. They now all depict her friends and relatives.
Then an old friend shows up, another demigod, Nik. After a friendly fistfight, Nik tells her that her mentor and half-brother Dom has disappeared. Nik is thousands of years old, the oldest of their kind, the closest thing to a god left on Earth. And he smirks. I hate people who smirk. That means that there’s at least a fifty-fifty chance Kat and Nik are going to end up together, even though he annoys her. I hate that. If he annoys her, kill him and be done with him, that’s what I always say. Mental note: ask my therapist about why I always say this. Second mental note: never mind, don’t ask my therapist, mine this emotional wound for stories instead.
Then a cop shows up, asking for her help finding some missing homeless kids. One of Kat’s magic powers is finding people, and she’s occasionally been known to help the police as a psychic. But she’s going to be busy looking for this guy Dom, so she turns the cop down.
I kind of like her. She’s deadly, which is appealing. I don’t like that she tolerates having that annoying Nik hanging around. The annoying-guy-turns-into-lover trope is one I can do without, but it seems to be almost a must-have in the urban fantasy genre. Can’t a girl just go kill people without having all the mushy stuff get in the way? No? Okay then.
Would I read this book? If the rest of them were in Kindle Unlimited, definitely. As it is … maybe.
Update: I finished the book. It was awesome. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, just let me say that the one thing I want kiss-ass women protagonists to do that they never do — Kat does. Or pretty darn close, at any rate. Meanwhile, while reading the book, I kept getting a lot of backstory that seemed to imply that there’s other books out there that came before. I looked it up, and there are three books, the Echo Trilogy, a time-traveling romance with Egyptian gods. The same author also has other series, and a LitRPG book, Allworld Online: Pride & Prejudice. I’ve already picked up my copy.
3. Black Spark by Al K. Line
This is the first book of eight in the Dark Magic Enforcer urban fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Alex Korolov:
This book might appeal to fans of urban fantasy. It takes place in the present-day United Kingdom, but one that’s filled with wizards, vampires, and other magical creatures.
The story is told in the first person by Faz Pound, a wizard who, as it turns out, has amnesia.
The story gets going fast.
Faz commits a murder right at the start of the book, and then he starts stumbling around town trying to figure out what’s going on and why he’s suffering from memory loss.
I read the first few chapters and this book didn’t interest me that much, but if you’re into fantasy stories about wizards having adventures in a time and place that closely resembles our own, maybe it’s one you’d like to read.
4. Croc’s Return by Eve Langlais
This is the first of four books in the Bitten Point paranormal romance series. The other books are $3.99 each and are not in in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
So first, my usual disclaimer. I’m not a fan of romance, or shapeshifters, or any book with a naked male chest on the cover. But the cover does have a crocodile on it. That’s new.
The book starts with Caleb’s point of view. He’s trying to reconnect with his family after his years in the military. He’s bickering with his brother about what seat he’s going to ride in, and he loses the argument. He’s stuck in the bed of the pickup truck, while his brother’s dog, Princess, gets the front passenger seat.
His family lives in Florida, in a tiny town in the Everglades. And they’re all shifters.
The first chapter also mentions that Caleb has just spent some time with another group of shifters in Alaska. I looked it up, and I think it might be referring to the author’s eight-book Kodiak Point series. I haven’t read that one.
Apparently, Caleb’s dad died, also in the military, before he got a chance to teach Caleb about how to be a shifter. When he first became a shifter, he bit someone, and fled to the military. When he did, he left behind the love of his life, Renny. He figured she’d move on. He hasn’t. He’s still angry if he ever so much as thinks of her being with another guy. A doctor in Alaska taught him how to calm down. That also helps him deal with his panic attacks. This is sounding really familiar. Have I read those other books? Or are they all just melding together in my mind?
Anyway, the old family home looks a lot nicer than it did when Caleb left. The driveway is now crushed stone instead of mud. There’s new siding and a new roof. Hurricane-grade window shutters. Caleb’s been sending checks home, and helped put his brother through college.
Then we switch to Renny’s point of view. She’s a single mom, working two jobs to make ends meet. Turns out, Caleb’s the dad. He just up and left her — and didn’t respond to any of her letters.
So I guess it will turn out that there’s some kind of reasonable explanation why Caleb didn’t get the letters, never knew he had a son, and now they’re going to meet up and live happily ever after, once some other minor obstacles are resolved. But that’s just my guess! I could be wrong!
What can I say? The book is very readable. Like a bag of potato chips. If you like this particular flavor, I think you’ll enjoy the book. You won’t be surprised, and it probably won’t change your life, but you’ll have a few enjoyable hours and that good feeling that comes from a happy ending. For free.
5. Acheron Inheritance by Ken Lozito
This is the first of three books in the Federation Chronicles space opera series. The other books are $5.99 each and the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From N.T. Narbutovskih:
A man wakes up with no memories in the body of an agricultural robot. This clearly was not how he had envisioned his day going, however, it gets worse as his virtual intelligence companion tells him that there are other robots that are actively hunting him. Because the agricultural bot is pretty limited, he doesn’t have access to a lot of his memories, and finds himself quickly running for his life across a post-apocalyptic landscape of volcanic ash and a fallen civilization.
This book starts out with a good strong action scene and has some interesting concepts, like the idea of a personality matrix qualifying as a fully living being as well as bespoke AI butlers. Lozito’s plotting is good, and he creates a compelling and realistic setting right out of the gate. Unfortunately, he does use a lot of acronyms that require explaining several times before you get them stuck in your head, which makes the reading a bit jagged. Once he hits his stride, though, the story flows along quite nicely.
For fans of anything power armor, or anyone who likes the idea of cybernetically enhanced human machine interfaces, this action adventure will keep the pages turning.
6. The Shadow Order by J.S. Malcom
This is the first book of three in the Crossroads Witch urban fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each, and the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. This isn’t the first time the author has been on this list — we reviewed Empyrean Witch back in May, and Autumn Winters in June.
From Maria Korolov:
Amaya, 22, works at a convenience store, restocking the shelves. And she lives at a mental health facility. That’s because, six years ago, she was found wandering around by herself with no memory of anything. She picked her name at random. For the past year, she’s been deemed healthy enough to participate in a work release program.
Oh, and she sees imaginary creatures.
Meanwhile, there’s a string of creepy murders happening in the city. People randomly turn on their loves ones and kill them, then claim to have no memory of what happened. The only thing they remember is the word “Lachrymoar.”
Amaya has been lying to her doctors and today she’s graduated from the mental health facility and will be moving to a halfway house.
But that same night the fire alarm goes off. Some nurses are dead. Amaya sticks out her hands and energy rushes out of them and breaks down doors. Nurses are dead, a doctor runs at her with a bloody knife – all sorts of mayhem is happening. Outside, the cops tells her to stop but for some reason she uses her powers on them to shove them away and runs off.
The cops chase her into an alley, where a portal appears. Two women stand in it, and one of them tells her to jump through the portal. She does.
I’m not the target audience for this book. It’s a young adult story, and I don’t like young adults. It’s told in the first person, in the present tense, which isn’t my favorite. And I’m not personally caught up in the main character.
But I can see why people like it. It’s easy to read and fast-paced. The main character is snarky and the writer has a good sense of humor.
7. Infinity: A Bridger’s Origin by Stan C. Smith
This is the second week in a row this book has been on this list. This is the origin story for the six-book Bridgers post-apocalyptic series. The other books are $2.99 to $3.99 each and the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. This is the second week in a row this book has been on this list. And the author’s has had another book on this list as well — in April, we reviewed his book Genesis Sequence.
From Alex Korolov:
If you’re into sci-fi stories about people travelling to alternate worlds, this book could be for you.
The story takes a little while to get going, but I think it’s worth the wait, especially if you like the idea of humans travelling to brand new realities to find out what exists on a world that could be very different from our own.
Safetrek Bridging is the first company to use a new technology to bridge people to different versions of earth that diverged in evolution from the world we know.
Passerina and Scottie are two struggling professional fighters who’ve just been recruited and are in training to be bridgers, the people whose job it is to protect a small of team of people that’s travelling to an alternate version of earth.
They find out on the first day of their training that their new job is a hard one — and can easily have deadly consequences.
I think the concept for the book is a cool one, and I’d definitely read the whole book. I read about a third of it in one sitting and I don’t plan on stopping.
8. Path of the Flame by D. K. Holmberg
This is the first of five books in The Dragon Thief coming of age fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Ty is a thief in a fantasy jungle kingdom. He steals dragon bones from the king and the kingdom’s priests and archeologists. Also, he’s looking for any evidence of what happened to his parents, who disappeared five years ago.
This world also has magic in it, and living dragons.
He’s considering leaving the city to search for his parents elsewhere in the world, but he’s worried that they’ll return and he won’t be there when they do.
The book starts out with a pretty tense scene in the jungle where Ty steals a dragon claw, then another in the city, where he breaks into a compound and steals more dragon artifacts.
He’s got friends in the city — another thief, a fence, and a trader who wants him to leave the city with her on her next trip. And his estranged brother is a priest.
Meanwhile, the priests are worried that the nearby volcano is about to erupt.
It’s a fast-paced story, and an easy read. It’s not pulling me in, personally, but I can see why hundreds of other people gave it five-star reviews. It doesn’t hurt that the rest of the series is in Kindle Unlimited. I’ve read and liked other books by the same author, and he has lots of other fantasy series on Amazon, including more dragon-themed ones, so if you like his style, there’s plenty more to read where this came from.
9. Broken Chains by Demelza Carlton
This is the first of three books in the Heart of Stone urban fantasy series. The second book in the series is $3.99 and the third book is currently available for pre-order and will be coming out in July. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
Demelza Carlton is a regular on this list. We also reviewed several books in the 26-book Romance a Medieval Fairytale series. In July, we reviewed Embellish: Brave Little Tailor Retold, another book in the same series. Hunt: Red Riding Hood Retold, we reviewed in April, and, also that month, we reviewed Blow: Three Little Pigs Retold, then, in May, we reviewed Melt: Snow Queen Retold and, in September, Dance: Cinderella Retold. A box set of the first three books in the series was also on this list this past April.
But wait, that’s not all! In December, we reviewed Ocean’s Justice, the first book in the six-book Siren of War fantasy series. And Broken Chains itself has also been on this list before — we reviewed it earlier this month.
From Amira Loutfi:
This is a fast, easy read. The protagonist is a wimpy grad student who doesn’t know what study to dedicate herself to. I had trouble suspending my disbelief, and there wasn’t even any magic in the opening scene.
The perspective switches to a mysterious creature that had been buried for years — he has been told that when it’s time to awaken there will be a call. I’m not sure what “awaken” or “call” really means in this story just yet. But the mysterious creature wakes up to the sound of rocks moving about, not a call. So he waits.
One night, a stranger starts chasing the grad student, accusing her of theft. She runs, and cries for help. The mysterious creature hears it and comes bursting through the rock to go save her.
It’s not bad, just not for me.
10. The Lost Siren by Raven Storm
This is the first of five books in Rise of the Drakens paranormal reverse harem romance series. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The fifth book is scheduled to be released in October and is available for preorder. This book has also been on this list before — we also reviewed it earlier this month.
From Maria Korolov:
First of all, a disclaimer. I am not a fan of romance, and I’m certainly not a fan of reverse harem romances — those are the ones where the heroine doesn’t have to choose between two equally hot men. Instead, she gets both. Or all three. Or however many there are.
I’m not opposed to the idea in principle. After all, this is escapist fantasy and what’s better than a hot guy? Three hot guys, right?
Unfortunately, all I can think about when reading reverse harem books is how much drama must be involved. It must get so tiring.
Anyway, the book starts out with Wren, who’s a slave of Lord Crullfed, a vampire, in a fantasy world where humans are prey. She’s regularly beaten. Still, she is terrified of being sold off to someone else, like a vampire or demon.
Then a man shows up — a handsome man, of course, and not a vampire though also not human — and gives her a choice. If she wants, she can come with him. She wants, and he carries her away. Oh, and he has wings and can fly.
The story is readable, but it’s not my thing. I’m not going to keep reading.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
And watch Amira and Maria discuss all ten book in the video below: