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. Breaker by Amy Campbell
This is the first of four books in the Tales of the Outlaw Mages Western fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Tim McHugh:
This book takes place in a western-like fantasy world. There are outlaws with six-shooters but also mages who practice alchemy. I am definitely not the target audience for this kind of story. While I love magic, I have a hard time getting into the western theme.
The story starts with Blaise, a young man who is hinted to have some magical powers. He is at the market buying supplies for his mother’s alchemy practice. The men in the shop give him a rough time but nothing really happens.
It’s when Blaise leaves and takes to the road that he is ambushed and robbed by Jack. Jack is a mage, meaning he has a certain type of power, and has a telepathic Pegasus to assist him. Jack realizes that Blaise is also a mage but robs him anyway and we get a peek at Blaise’s power when he touches Jack’s gun and it explodes.
Later in the story we can expect the two mages and the Pegasus to team up to take on the Salt-Iron Confederation, a large organization that threatens Blaise’s family.
The writing in this story is not bad, but it takes far too long for anything to happen. It takes pages for Blaise to buy supplies where nothing much happens and it takes a paragraph for him to decide where to eat his lunch. The dialogue is also a bit flat and surface level, and there are a few too many corny, quippy similes.
Regardless of the writing style, this book is not for me, but if you are interested in western-style stories you might like it. The world seems to be well thought out and there is potential for a good plot to play out.
9. 1984 by George Orwell
From Sophie Gorjance:
Cards on the table: I love this book. I have loved it since sophomore year of high school when I was assigned to read it for my intermediate composition class.
I’ve read it several times since then, taught it to college students, and gotten a tattoo inspired by it. But I’ll talk about it here as though I’m coming upon it for the first time, just in case that is true for you.
The opening chapters introduce us to the main character, Winston Smith, and the alternate-history London he occupies, where The Party, led by Big Brother, rules the population by intimidation and indoctrination.
Winston only has very vague memories of his life before The Party came to power, but remains convinced that this utter lack of freedom is wrong, and takes steps to start a quiet sort of resistance.
This book wears its themes on its sleeve. It’s easily readable, easily digestible, and the political themes Orwell was working with when he wrote it in the 1940s are all too prescient now — although he was not writing as a prognosticator of our present, but rather as a critic of his present.
Nevertheless, the book remains powerful, and I really believe everyone should read it, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity until now.
I guess I didn’t quite manage to talk about it like I’ve never read it before… sorry about that!
8. Rage by Melody Adams
This is the first of 31 books in the Alien Breed sci-fi romance series. The other books are $0.99 to $2.99 each, are not in Kindle Unlimited, and, it looks like only the first eight are available on Amazon in English.
From Maria Korolov:
First of all, a disclaimer. I’m not the target audience for this book. If you are, please email me and join our review team! I know people love these books because they’re at the top of the charts every single week.
The book starts in Georgia — the state, not the country — in June of 2023. That’s now. Hold on, when was this book first published? Looks like … 2018. This should be interesting. What did people in 2018 think that 2023 was going to look like?
Anyway. Jessie, our protagonist, has been working for Dexter Medical Industries for a week as a cleaner. His mom kicked him out and he needs the job, regardless of how he feels about what Dexter is doing. He suspects they’re doing researching on animals.
He’s on a level where he’s not supposed to be — he misheard his instructions — and finds a cage holding a man. A man with a weird-shaped head and teeth and eyes like those of a cat. The man threats to break Jessie’s neck if he takes any more of his blood. Apparently, the captive is something called an Alien Breed, created to be the subject of experiments.
Ooops. Jessie isn’t a man, Jessie’s a woman. And the captive thinks that she’s been sent to see if he’ll breed with her. Apparently, he’s snapped the neck of every other woman brought to his cell.
She promises to help, and takes pictures of him with her cell phone, then leaves work early, saying she’s sick. She plans to take her pictures to the media.
Then, the next chapter is set in 2032.
Rage has been rescued from Dexter’s lab and he’s now living on another planet, called Eden, brought here by humans. Eden was already inhabited though, and he and others of his kind keep having to fend off attacks.
Then we’re back with Jessie. She’s been sent to Eden, one of a small team of humans sent to help. The colony is full of soldiers and Alien Breeds. She’d only ever seen the one Alien Breed, at Dexter all those years ago. She’s surprised by how sexy and muscular all the Alien Breeds are, both the men and the women. And the captive she found at Dexter is here, too.
Then we switch to Rage’s point of view. He’s furious to see her. He took the name Rage because of how angry he was at her. Apparently, he’d been tortured nearly to death after she took his picture. He doesn’t know that she’s the one that wound up getting them all freed.
The book skips over all the parts that I would have liked — how the Alien Breeds were created, how they got freed, how the humans found the new planet, how they got there by 2032 — that is all good stuff! How did we get to interstellar travel?
Instead, the book focuses on all the feelings. All the sexy feelings, all the angry feelings. Confusion. Shame. Feelings! Pshaw. I want to know about the space industry and all the bioengineering!
So I’m not going to stick with the book. But if you’re someone who cares about people and relationships and all that mushy stuff, well, this book is pretty darn readable, and promises to get very sexy very soon.
7. The Astral’s Bonded by Kimberly M. Ringer
This is the second of five books in the Ashstrike Sanctorum paranormal series. The other books are $.99 to $3.99 each, and the series is only half in Kindle Unlimited.
Jade Romero is a woman who has been contracted as an architect to do some work for Porter Ranch but that’s just the cover story.
Actually, she’s an Astral who has been sent to deal with a werewolf problem in the area.
From what I understood, the Astrals are something like the supernatural police. They negotiate with the supernatural and try to keep things under control so the humans don’t have to deal with the consequences of their territorial conflicts and what not.
I found the whole Astral topic very interesting and I definitely would’ve loved to learn more about her work
Then we meet Kolton Webster, a human who works at the ranch. The first time he and Jade met was on a video call and they couldn’t stand each other, but everything changed the moment Jade arrived at the ranch. They were instantly attracted to each other and realized they were actually not that terrible in real life. And you can tell by what little happens in the first three chapters of the book that they will end up together one way or another and…meh, I wasn’t a fan of it or the way they were thirsting for each other.
The only thing I found interesting about this book was the werewolf conflict but we barely got a taste of that in the first few chapters.
We spend more time on Jade and Kolton going crazy after how hot they find each other and that’s about it.
Overall, I can’t say that I hated this book but it really wasn’t my cup of tea… at all. I would still recommend it if you’re looking for what seems to be a steamy fast-paced read with a supernatural plot… I just never got to that part.
6. An Oracle Walks into a Bar by Scott Burtness
This is the first of three books in The Misadventures of a Paranormal Post-Relationship Personal Effects Repossession Specialist urban fantasy series. The other books are $.99 each, but the series is in Kindle Unlimited. The third book will be released at the end of this month and is currently available for pre-order.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m a big fan of snarky, action-packed urban fantasy, and judging by the cover of this book, it’s going to fit the bill.
And it doesn’t disappoint.
In the opening scene, August is thrown out through a plate glass window. Before he hits the ground, he shape-shifts into a wolverine, crawls out of his human-sized clothes, walks through the glass shards and snow back to the house and, naked, shifts back to human form, and gives a finger to the werewolf who’d thrown him out the window. Apparently, he had snuck into the house to grab a signed Oasis CD for a client while the werewolf ex-girlfriend was otherwise occupied. Apparently, she spotted him and over-reacted.
I like this beginning. I like urban fantasy books about sarcastic private investigators who are always getting beat up. The ability to shape-shift into a wolverine is a nice bonus.
Apparently, his specialty is repossessing personal effects and pets after breakups. Exotic animals cost extra. But he only charged $100 for getting the CD back. Given that it took him a whole evening to do that — plus the meetings with the client before and afterward, plus the whole being thrown through a window thing — he seems to have bad business skills. Instead of spending his free time just driving around on his motorcycle and hanging out in bars, he should probably be taking some marketing and accounting classes. Not only would he learn the basics, but he’d probably be able to hire one of his fellow students to work for him part-time at cheap rates while they’re both getting their businesses going.
But then again, what would we read about if everyone made sensible decisions all the time?
Anyway, August is drinking at a bar — the bartender is a former client — when the bartender’s ex, a warlock, walks in and sees August. The warlock’s pet elemental beats August up until he sobers up enough to shift into a 350-pound gorilla. He ruins all his clothes, but is able to grab the warlock by his neck and stop his spell-slinging. After the warlock slinks off, the bartender calls a taxi to come pick August up and drive him home — and gives him a towel to sit on, so he doesn’t put his naked butt on the taxi seat.
Then a super-creepy woman shows up with five hundred dollars in cash, a deposit of half his fee up front, for him to find her glass eye. She’s got both her eyes, so August has no idea what she’s talking about. She refused to answer questions and just leaves. Also, it was creepy that she left exactly five hundred dollars, because they never discussed the price, and that’s exactly what he had planned to charge her. But never actually told her. Oh, and then it turns out that she’s the horoscope writer for the local paper. But August doesn’t believe in horoscopes or fortune telling. Which seems odd for someone who just turned into a gorilla and had a fight with a warlock.
But all that aside, this is a very fun start to the book. I like August, I like his friends, I like his attitude, and I like the well-realized world that he lives in. Also, I like the fact that he’s in the Twin Cities. Not your usual setting for an urban fantasy series.
5. Royal Factions Box Set by W. J. May
This is the first three of six books in the Royal Factions series of young adult fantasy. The other books are $3.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited. We previously reviewed this box set in September of 2021. In fact, W.J. May is a regular on these lists. In April, we reviewed Beginning’s End, a box set of the first three of eight books in the Beginning’s End Series of young adult romantic fantasy. In December, we reviewed The Kerrigan Kids box set which is the first three books in the 12-book The Kerrigan Kids series. In November, we reviewed Twist and Turns, the first of four books in the Fae Wilds coming of age fantasy series. And she’s been on this list many, many times before.
From Maria Korolov:
In this kingdom, the queen has her royal guard kidnap the most beautiful teenagers from the provinces around the capital. The book reminds me a little of The Hunger Games, with its cruel dictator, kids being ripped away from their families, and a dramatic divide between the wealth and magic of the capital and the extreme poverty in the countryside.
Except here, instead of being forced to fight each other to the death, the young people are claimed as sex slaves by the ruling classes.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like the kind of book that would appeal to me, but the writing is extremely compelling and I quickly got caught up in the story. I care about what happens to the protagonist, and the other youths who were kidnapped along with her.
4. Prowling their Mate by Tamsin Baker
This is the first 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.
From Maria Korolov:
As I mentioned earlier, 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.
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.
3. Wed To The Alien Warlord by January Bell
This is the first of six books in the Accidental Alien Brides sci-fi romance series. The other books are $0.99 to $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Terrence Smith:
This book has all the trappings that I expect from a sci-fi alien romance book: scaly aliens with ripped chests, heavy passion and desire, and what the book description promises to be “domineering.”
Niki and her crew go on a diplomatic mission to visit a reptilian alien race known as the Suevans. They hope to gain their alliance, and their technology, to bolster Earth’s defenses against future alien invasions. Her team is all-female, which unbeknownst to them, was not a feminist act by the Earth. Rather, they have been duped into a wedding ritual to be wives of the Suevans, whose female population was decimated by a virus.
Niki comes off as a capable, but still nervous, captain. She has gained the respect of those whom she leads, and puts up with the gentle ribbing that she receives from them, which she calls insubordination. The story shifts between the perspectives of her and the Suevan known as Draz, one of the fiercest warriors of the race. He yearns for Niki physically, but it is nice to know that he actually does care for her on some level. Their relationship is hinted as going into “Fifty Shades of Green” territory.
Just as the mating ritual is complete, the crew’s ship is destroyed by separatists on the planet. This puts Niki and the crew in the middle of an alien civil war, which further complicates the situation in which they have found themselves.
While the political element is intriguing, human-alien romances such as this are not my thing, so I will not be continuing with this one. Those who are fans of this genre, however, will find much to enjoy.
2. The Renbrook Homestead by Colton Lively
From Sophie Gorjance:
This book is set in a near future or alternate present as a large-scale electromagnetic pulse — EMP — brings modern society to a grinding halt.
It is narrated by a teenage girl named Olive who is struggling against a political and legal system that seems designed to punish her and her younger sister even though they have done nothing wrong.
It’s an interesting premise, and I think EMPs are an underrepresented method of launching the fictional apocalypse, but I found the actual narrative a little trying. Olive is an odd mix of streetmart and naive, and the police officers she encounters are either cartoonishly evil or, frankly, idiots.
The EMP plot point was introduced quite clumsily in my opinion, going from “not really a big deal” to “they’re grounding all the planes like after 9/11” in the course of a one page conversation.
These aren’t dealbreaker issues for me, but the book hadn’t quite earned my trust by the fifth chapter. I think if you’re going in with excitement about the post-apocalyptic aspects and the survivalist themes then you could have a fun time with this, but I’m personally going to leave it here.
1. Against All Odds by Jeffery H. Haskell
This is the first of six books in the Grimm’s War space opera series. The other books are $0.99 to $5.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. The last book isn’t out yet. It will be released in September and is currently available for pre-order. It’s the first time the author has been on our Free Friday list, but he has been on the USA Today bestseller list, which is almost as good.
From Maria Korolov:
This book is billed as being in the tradition of Honor Harrington and Star Trek. I’m a huge fan of both — David Weber’s Honor Harrington series is one of my all-time favorites.
Lieutenant junior grade Jacob Grimm has been in the United Systems Alliance Navy for ten years, including four in the academy, but he was still considered a newbie. He was the officer on watch when the helmsman picked up a weird sensor echo while their formation was on a scanning mission. He’s got a gut feeling it could be something more, and orders an additional scan. Turns out, he was right, and orders the crew to battle stations.
It’s an ambush. It’s his first space battle. The captain is on his way, but it’s up to Jacob to react until the captain arrives. He’s able to keep his ship intact and take down four of the enemies. Still, one of the other ships in their formation were lost and two others suffered heavily casualties.
They chase down the one surviving enemy ship. Everyone on board is dead. And they were all children.
In the next chapter we meet fleet admiral Noelle Villanueva. She’s the first person in that position in 20 years, and still regrets accepting the promotion. Instead of commanding ships, she’s now commanding paper and instead of fighting space battles, she’s navigating political minefields.
It’s now been two years since Jacob had killed all those children. Everyone on the bridge that day except him had resigned because of all the bad publicity.
Now, in order to deal with a political problem, Noelle decides to assign Jacob to a new post.
In the next chapter we’re back with Jacob. He’s been quietly rebuilding his reputation on a space station, as officer of the deck. Which, as far as I can tell, means making sure that maintenance is done correctly. He gets new orders. He’s got an hour to get himself onto a tramp freighter that will take him to his new post. He grabs his bag and his guitar and heads out.
I like Jacob. I like the fact that he’s conscientious and works hard, and is able to make difficult decisions when he needs to. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book.
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:
Edited by Melody Friedenthal