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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. Captured by the Fae by Vera Rivers
This is the first of five books in the Fate of the Fae fantasy romance series. The other books are $2.99 each, but the series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Ellie is a human, serving ale in a Fae tavern, fending off groping hands. She’d leave for the mountains, where humans live freely, but it’s more than a week away on foot and, apparently, she can’t afford the trip. But also, she seems to be scared of taking a risk. What if the humans don’t want her?
Meanwhile, the fae king has been assassinated and there are rumors that the new king, his son, would abolish slavery for humans.
That night, when she’s up in her tiny room above the tavern kitchen, she hears something downstairs and when she goes to check, something knocks her unconscious.
She wakes up in a prison cell, her arms chained. She’s pulled to her feet and dragged into the center of an arena. Oh, and she’s not in her own body anymore. She’s now an enormous, muscular man, wearing a battle outfit. And she — or the man who’s body she’s in — is accused of killing the king, and is sentenced to do battle with a beast.
She’s in an unfamiliar body, trying to fight off a giant monster, when suddenly she turns back into her normal human female shape again.
Which is actually a lucky break, because back in her own body, she’s good at fending off giant beasts.
It’s a fun read, and, seven chapters in, still no sign of romance. I like that in a book.
There’s also lots of action and snarky humor, and the book is extremely readable. If I didn’t already have a long reading list, I’d be finishing it this weekend.
9. Night Elves of Ardani by Nina K. Westra
This is the first of four books in the Elves of Ardani fantasy romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
This book is billed as an “enemies to lovers” romance, which is my least favorite type of romance. I figure, if someone is an enemy, kill him and move on with your life. So I’m guessing I’m not the target audience for this book.
But I’m going to try to keep an open mind.
Novikke is a soldier on leave, forced to get a ride with an old couple because there was a mix-up at the stable where she was supposed to change horses. I do like the fact that she’s a soldier, and knows her way around a sword.
The other passenger with them is a fellow soldier, on leave while he recovers from an injury.
While on the road, they come across a tree blocking the way. The old couple decides to take a dangerous shortcut through a forest protected by night elves. Novikke could have continued without them, on foot, by climbing over the tree, but she worried about the old couple’s safety, so she stayed with them.
Of course, the four of them are idiots. The night elves attack and kill the other soldier. Novikke holds the night elves off while the old couple rides to safety on horseback, then the elves overpower her and take her prisoner.
I don’t like the fact that she went into the forest, knowing that the night elves were there, that they were virtually defenseless. Plus, she’s a courier, carrying messages. She shouldn’t be taking a stupid risk like that while on assignment. Plus, one of the reasons the old couple felt safe enough to drive through the forest was because they had soldiers with them. If Novikke didn’t go with them, they might have turned around and gone back, instead. By going with them she put their lives at risk, her own life, the life of the other soldier, and the safety of the documents she was carrying.
Anyway, she’s being led through the forest by two elves, her captors, when one of them is injured. And Novikke gives him her healing potion. Apparently, without it, things would have gone badly for the elf. Which means she would have had an opportunity to escape. Why did she save his life, instead?
I’m too upset with her to keep reading — even though the writing itself is very readable, compelling, and fast-paced.
8. Kingdom of Embers by Tricia Copeland
This is the first of four books in the Kingdom Journals young adult urban fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Alena is a high school senior who just moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles and has to go to a new school. Her mom’s a rich executive of some kind, and moves around a lot, and Alena has a driver who takes her to school and a housekeeper who helps her get dressed in the morning.
Alena’s also a cheerleader and has magic powers that she has to keep secret from everyone.
Oh, and her mom was born in the fifteenth century and the driver was a Viking born in the 1300s.
She’s got dietary restrictions, so she leaves school to go to a restaurant for lunch, and, while being driven home from school, learns that a rogue vampire killed someone in the same restaurant. Now she’s going to be bringing her lunch to school with her.
Turns out, Alena is half-vampire herself. Other vampire kids are home schooled and attend vampire classes at night. But her mother wanted her to be mainstreamed. Oh, and her mother is head of the vampire council.
And she’s going to turn 18 in a few months. Once she does, she can join a coven and get her full powers. She’s looking forward to being able to fly.
I’m getting the sense that the other half of Alena is witch — and witches and vampires are forbidden from having children, so her existence is a secret.
There’s vampire politics in this book. And teenage drama. But you know what? I don’t mind it. I like Alena a lot. I like her matter-of-fact attitude towards life, her relationships with the people in her life. She’s serious, not spoiled, and careful in her dealings with other people. I’m probably going to be sticking with this book.
7. Veiled by Ruby Smoke
This is the first of three books in the Concealed in Myths Trilogy series. The other books aren’t out yet, but the second one is scheduled to be released this July and is now available for preorder.
From Maria Korolov:
The Unseelie Queen has killed the previous faerie queen a hundred years ago, but now there’s a prophecy spreading across her kingdom that doesn’t bode well for her. In two hundred years, another queen will be born, and she will challenge her reign. Two hundred years is plenty of time for her to plan for this coming threat.
Two hundred years later, when the new would-be queen is born, her parents hide her in the human realm to keep her safe.
And then the book begins in earnest.
Hudson is about to go to college. Her family is rich, powerful and magical. She wants to go to college at some non-magic, human school in New York, but her father sends her to a fancy magical university instead. Apparently, she doesn’t have a choice.
Also, she’s extremely profane and obsessed with sex, in addition to being very good at magic and combat.
Oh, and she has sex with her stepbrother.
There is a lot of bad language and graphic sex in this book right from the start. I’m clutching my pearls as I type this review.
I don’t mind the bad language, but I do mind the teenage drama, so I won’t be sticking with it. If you enjoy the drama then I have to say that the writing is very vivid and compelling.
6. The Stalking Dead by Eva Chase
This is the first of four books in the Gang of Ghouls paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m a big fan of snarky urban fantasy, and, from the description, this book might fit the bill.
The book starts with Lily, who’s back in town after seven years in a mental hospital. It’s also her first day at college, and is trying desperately to look and act normal so she doesn’t get sent back to the loony bin.
But her old bully is still around, and still as nasty as ever, and immediately tells the other students about her mental health issues. Oh, and he’s also very hot. And he causes hot coffee to be spilled on her shirt. Which leads to her being late for her first class. And, on top of that, the professor tells everyone in the class who she is.
I’m guessing we’ll find out soon enough why she decided to come back to this town, and attend this particular college. She does have a car, so even if she does have to live in this town, can’t she attend college somewhere else? Also, she doesn’t know what happened to her seven years ago. She knows she had an episode that everybody else knows about, but nobody’s told her what happened and she can’t remember anything. Why hasn’t she just looked it up? She’s been taking classes while at the hospital, so she must have had access to a computer.
Then, in the next chapter, we switch to the point of view of some guy named Nox. Nox is dead, and he’s trying to get Lily’s attention. Even though he’s known her since she was a kid, he thinks she’s hot. Which is super creepy. I hate it when old dead guys have the hots for young female protagonists. I mean, come on, dude. Date someone your own age. Who’s also, you know, dead.
Nox is one of four spirits who’s been hanging around Lily, and all four of them are devastated that she doesn’t notice them anymore. But they have a plan to get her attention, and to get revenge on Lily’s bullies. They’ll just have to commit a few murders to do it.
Are these four dead guys supposed to be the romantic interests? If so, that’s a little disturbing.
Then we’re back with Lily. She’s now being bullied by the entire college football team. And someone has slashed one of her tires. And she still doesn’t know what she’s supposed to have done.
Then we’re back with another one of the ghosts. This time, it’s Kai. He and the three other ghosts are setting up a deadly trap involving a mixture of deadly chemicals. Apparently, they have the ability to move things around slightly. And send notes.
They kill Lily’s four biggest bullies and take over their bodies, including the handsome jerk from the first scene, the inappropriate professor, and the football captain. And hijinks ensue.
This book has a ridiculous premise, and the action doesn’t make much sense, from a logical perspective, but it’s a lot of fun anyway. Put this book in the category of over-the-top wish-fulfilment. I’m enjoying it, and might stick with it this weekend.
5. The Gilded Survivor by Daniela A. Mera
This is the first of three books in the The Blood Tournaments young adult dystopian series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. The second book is due out in July, and the third book is due out this August.
From Maria Korolov:
Carmen, an orphan, is a Flamenco dancer, plucked out of poverty to perform in a dance company. She lives in a world that is strictly stratified. There are the homeless, then the working class, then the performers, then the elite class. There are restrictions on interactions between classes that include where people can eat, and where they can life, and even what they’re allowed to wear.
It’s a modern-day setting — there are cars in the streets — but it’s also magical and other-worldly.
There’s also some kind of bloody contest that the elites hold every year. And an epidemic that’s killing off people.
This reminds me a bit of the Hunger Games books.
The world-building is awesome here. I love all the details, all the Spanish language terminology, and the specifics of the dancing. But what I’m not as fond of is the fact that Carmen has an unrequited crush on a powerful member of the elites. The man himself came to one of her performances, but instead of being awed by her dancing, he just sat and read a book.
The story is compelling and the writing is rich and pulls you in. But I’m not a fan of young adult drama, and Carmen is living fully in her emotions, so I won’t be sticking with the book.
4. Last King by Amabel Daniels
From Tim McHugh:
This is a high fantasy with magic and as that is my favorite genre, I am the target audience for this one.
This story takes place in a land called Contermerria, where people have lived for years under an oppressive spell that froze the land and littered it with monsters. The townspeople spend their lives in hiding, taking shelter in caves and caverns to avoid the monsters lurking around. Marren, the protagonist, is the town healer who is treated pretty horribly by the townsfolk who are greedy and selfish, but still she helps.
The first few chapters show Marren as she tends to some injured people and we learn more about the world. All seems to be normal until a constable comes to their door to arrest her sister for stealing food. Marren defends her sister which does nothing but get her thrown in jail as well. In the third chapter, Marren fights her way out of jail and escapes into the wild, setting up the plot of her leaving the safety of her village to strike out into the world.
I can’t tell much about what to expect from the plot from the first three chapters but I am interested to see where this story goes. This book is well written; the dialogue is realistic and the characters are a little grey. The plot moves a bit slowly in the beginning but I don’t think that’s a problem.
I like the genre and I like this author, so I’m going to stick with it.
3. The Lost Siren by Raven Storm
This is the first of seven books in Rise of the Drakens paranormal reverse harem romance series. The other books are $4.99 to $5.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This book has also been on this list before — we also reviewed it in July of last year.
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.
2. The Coven of Ruin by T. K. Tucker
This is the first of two books in Coven of Ruin fantasy romance series. The other book is $5.99 and is scheduled to released in February of 2024.
From Terrence Smith:
This book opens up with a bloody bang. Trista, a witch who has lost her powers, is forced into fighting in an arena for the entertainment of the Greek Gods. And the battle is as bloody and gruesome as one would expect from classic Greek mythology. Lots of red everywhere, chunks of flesh being mangled and flying. It is a classic gladiatorial arena story.
Trista would be dead if not for the God of War, who disrupts the battle to protect her — and also to annoy Zeus. A bloody history exists between the Gods and witches. Ares is violent and brutal, but in this case is also capable of compassion towards Trista, who desperately tried to save a teenage boy who was dying in the arena. In the boy’s dying words, he speaks of his sister, and utters the word “witch,” which will likely come into play later in the story.
Anyone who is a fan of the video game Hades will be a fan of this book. It promises conflict amongst the Gods, family rivalries, and a forbidden romance.
From the first words, I was hooked, in the dingy dungeon with Trista, wondering what got her into this predicament, and anticipating the desperate struggle that was about to unfold.
This is a story I am interested in continuing.
1. Daughter of Shadow by LJ Swallow
This is the first of four books in the Daughter of Shadow fantasy romance series. The other books are $0.99 to $4.99 each, but the series is in Kindle Unlimited. This book was previously published as “Dragon Soul.”
This book is a reverse harem fantasy romance that will leave you wanting to know more. More about the world. More about the characters. And definitely more about the dark magic that threatens to destroy them all.
Through the first few chapters of this book we’re introduced to 21-year-old Calla, the daughter of a powerful mage who works as an assistant at her local apothecary. Though her father and older brother are renowned mages in the city, she struggles to even make her potions work. Once a year, representatives from the king’s city come in search of people strong enough to join the Silvercrest stronghold and assist the king and his court at war. Calla has been dreaming of joining them and leaving her small town behind ever since she could remember, but things end up getting complicated for her.
The night before the test she ends up being attacked and harassed by one of her childhood bullies. She tries fighting him off but he’s so drunk and insistent he doesn’t stop until rage and disgust consumes her and the magic inside her explodes, unleashing dark shadows all around them. Members from the Silvercrest stronghold witness this and know that she will be sentenced to death the moment everyone in town discovers what kind of magic she has, but they will try their best to keep her safe because there’s something about her that’s calling to them…and maybe she’s not as dangerous as everyone thinks.
Overall, the book has a pretty nice start. It gives us a nice introduction to the main characters and the setting, and I can’t deny that the magic system and the conflicts of the world sound interesting and I would love to know more about them–especially the evil Queen that caused the war and all that. I’m also very interested in seeing where this new dark magic will take our main character so yeah, I think I’ll continue reading this–even if it’s a reverse harem.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria and Terrence discuss all ten books in the video below: