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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. What Devilry is This? by Sam Cheever
From Maria Korolov:
Aggy Lenore is 45, divorced, and about to turn her favorite hobby into a business. She’s going to open a candle shop in Rome, Indiana and call it “When in Rome.” And, of course, she has a cute pet. Specifically, a dachshund named Monty. And she’s bought an old church to use both as her home and for the business. Its kitchen had already been updated to private use before she bought it, but there’s still a lot of work left to be done on the rest of it. And outside, too – the church came with a small cemetery.
Then, at midnight, the church bell starts ringing. She goes up to the belfry but there’s nobody out there. She decides to fix the bell in the morning. Then she sees a creepy man down below, standing among the broken stones in the old cemetery. Then lightning hits.
When she wakes up in the morning, Aggy has a thin network of pink lines covering her entire body. Then the lines just as mysteriously disappear. Things keep getting weirder. A naked man wander into her kitchen and tells her that he’s the greenskeeper. Aggy tells him to wear some pants, and sends him off to clean up the cemetery.
Then her best friend Beverly stop by and tells Aggy that she’s glowing — she has Lichtenberg lines — and asks her if she’s been hit by lightning.
Other weird things start happening.
I’m not sure whether I’ll stick with this book. On the one hand, it’s cute and cozy and I like all the characters. On the other hand, it’s very slow-paced. However, I have had a hectic week. Something slow and cozy might be nice.
9. Elemental Thief by Rachel Morgan
This is the first of three books in the Ridley Kayne Chronicles coming of age fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. Rachel Morgan has been on this list before, back in April we reviewed her book The Faerie Guardian.
From Maria Korolov:
The book starts out with Ridley using magic to break into a penthouse apartment and evade the security cameras. So my first thought was that this was an urban fantasy, set in the modern world, and it was going to have plenty of action and that I would like it very much.
I was wrong on two out of the three counts. Turns out, this is set in the near future, and not in our world, but one that is very similar except that magic is real.
A few years previously, some magic users got together and tried to do a big piece of magic in order to solve an energy crisis. Instead, they unleashed a magical apocalypse that destroyed entire cities and laid the countryside to waste. As a reaction, magic became illegal and its use punishable by death. The city where Ridley lives survived because it had shields against the magic, but life as she knew it was over. Her father had been a famous and wealthy creator of magical items, and was unable to find work again after the disaster, sending them into poverty. And her mother disappeared during the cataclysm, caught in a magical storm outside the city.
And then, we learn that Ridley has a scholarship to attend a school for rich kids, with all her old friends. She’s in her final year, but the only one there who talks to her is another scholarship student. The rich kids all shun her because her father was known to do magic.
So then I thought that this is a book about a teenager going to school and dealing with teenage drama. Not my cup of tea.
But then, the action picks up again, and, well, I read the whole book over lunch. It was fun, fast-paced, and had lots and lots of twists and turns.
So, yeah, I recommend it. It’s a great weekend read.
8. A Duel in Time by Cidney Swanson
This is the fifth of eight books in the Thief in Time time travel series. The other books in the series are $2.99 to $4.99 each, but the second book in the series is also free today. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Carla Nordlund:
Although their mother claims to not know which daughter is the oldest, twins Klee and Kahlo know that it is Kahlo: she is more assertive, more outgoing, and more successful. Klee is content to be in Kahlo’s shadow, supporting Kahlo’s success and following her decisions. The twins have the innate bond that all twins do, and despite their differing personalities, do almost everything together, including going to the same college on volleyball scholarships. One morning a few weeks before the opening of their sophomore year, Kahlo makes a decision for both: they’re done with volleyball, and are leaving immediately to visit their older sister in Florida. Klee, as always, agrees.
They have an uneventful flight, although Klee ends up being the de facto baggage carrier due to Kahlo having a wrist injury from volleyball. In Florida they settle in with their sister and her circle of friends—in an attempt to gain more independence, Kahlo goes out with her sister to see the lab that their sister’s friends work in, while Klee remains at the house, happy to binge-watch Poldark all night.
The next morning Kahlo’s wrist brace is mysteriously gone, and although Klee can feel that something is off, she can’t quite remember why. The group is excited to score Hamilton tickets and head to the performance, swinging by the friends’ lab on the way to pick them up. Klee continues to be plagued by ghost sensations and a feeling of off-ness, right up to the point that they arrive at the lab.
Sometimes I need what I call “popcorn for the brain” books – fun, cozy, predictable, but still very enjoyable. This book ticks all those boxes as a lighthearted historical fantasy romance. Although it has a slower opening than some books, I’m happy to go through the set-up that we’re clearly headed for: the lab is obviously working on time-travel, and Klee is destined for a nice romantic entanglement with Alexander Hamilton’s son while finding her own individuality and independence. I’m ready to settle in with some popcorn and make this my cozy weekend read.
7. The Old Chrome by I.O. Adler
This is a box set of the first three books in the seven-book The Old Chrome post apocalyptic science fiction series. Individually, the books are $2.99 to $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From N.T. Narbutovskih:
A man heading to a date with his own funeral has to deal with a good old-fashioned train robbery. Although these bandits don’t seem to be the cream of the crop — cut-rate implants and old hardware mean that he could probably take them, in a pinch. But as the saying goes, not my circus, not my monkeys. He’s just as happy to let the bandits go on about their business because it means he can get back to where he was going in the first place. It turns out there’s something much more inconvenient between him and his impending demise.
Old Chrome is an interesting mashup between western and cyberpunk themes. I’m not entirely sure what I think of this. Take the setting, for example: there are a lot of idiosyncrasies involved in mannerisms, dress and appearance, as well as some direct call-outs to 18th and early 19th century old west. That just don’t make sense given the relative technology levels. Whereas a franchise like Firefly had some interesting Old West flavor to it, I think Old Chrome needs a little bit of a polish regarding the proportion of direct anachronism.
The writing is well done. However, once again the author tends to dump a lot of irrelevant information onto the reader. I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if the technology details had simply been handwaved or ignored. A lot of the exposition and explanation took me out of flow during the action.
The characters seemed well done with the exception of the lawman, who was a little bit too much of a caricature, more like Dudley Do-Right than the professional Old West marshalls. The main character is a little more hard-boiled, but his implants, mannerisms, and backstory don’t quite jibe for me with the way he is presented and his style and tone.
Overall, the first book of this box set definitely had me reading for a while, and while I don’t think I’ll continue it, it’s simply because I don’t have the time to. If you’re looking for a low-threat, fun mashup of American Old West with a little bit of cyborg flavor, you can’t go wrong with a free boxed set of three books.
6. Widowmaker Outpost by I.O. Adler
This is the first of what wil be the Dawn Moriti cyberpunk science fiction series. Usually this book is $4.99 but today it’s free. It is in Kindle Unlimited.
From N.T. Narbutovskih:
In a gritty future that drips with references to Blade Runner, a bounty hunter stalks their prey in the early morning. More like a mercenary private detective, Dawn is working off a debt by taking contracts to bring in wanted criminals. She finally catches up with her quarry, but the young woman sees Dawn coming and makes a break for it.
Widowmaker Outpost is a solid installment in the noir cyberpunk genre. With implants and tech being widespread, and a complicated system of corporate power defining government, the setting will appeal to mainstream fans of the genre.
The plot, however, did not reach out and grab me. Things turn out not to be quite as black and white as they were presented at first and the main character isn’t proud of all the things she has to do in order to survive.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but my impression is that these are little more than caricatures as they lack individual depth outside of the expectations of the genre. In addition, this book falls into the trap of attempting to present too much information too quickly. Using the mechanic of a rap sheet to run down the details of a target works, but it’s a huge amount of information and from what I can tell, not all of it is really that relevant. I found myself having a hard time judging what I cared about and what didn’t matter.
Production quality of the book is good, there were no glaring typos that jumped out at me and the prose flows nicely. I think this will be a quick read and engaging for those who are fans of the noir cyberpunk side of science fiction, however, nothing really jumped out at me as inspiring or different to many of the other offerings out there. Personally, I won’t be continuing this book. For me, something in this genre needs to be really special in order to not get lumped in with the other Blade Runner knockoffs.
5. Soul Bitten by Riley Storm
This is the first of three books in the Blood & Fangs paranormal urban fantasy series. The other books are $2.99 each, but the entire series is on Kindle Unlimited.
From Romel Madray:
This series is related to the Soulbound Shifters, another paranormal romance by the same author. The first book of that series, The Wild Moon, is also free today and the other two books in that series are in Kindle Unlimited. So you might want to pick that one up first, if this is your kind of reading.
The books opens up with and I quote: “I was late.”
She clarifies that she’s not late as in her period, but late in the sense of shifting into a wolf, which usually happens for the first time after the 21st birthday. But it’s been three months and she still hasn’t shifted. So that’s a problem.
Then there is Aaron, a vampire, whom she has taken a tumble for.
There is something or someone called “Vanar” which everyone keeps mentioning.
Our heroine says, “What the hell does this all mean?”
I am with you sister. I am with you there.
So finally we get to what the Vanar is, but I am not going to spoil it for you.
So what happens next is a road trip and its ensuing thrills and frills. I read up to chapter seven which is about a sixth of the book. And it’s not bad. The writing is very flowing and author tries to build the tension via the plot rather than the language which makes it seem a little cheesy but it has a quick rather than a dense feel.
It is obviously written for the young adult market, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a good read for the tube at rush hour, when you want something to pass the time with. Something not too distracting but engaging enough, to make you forget being packed in, like sardines along a monolithic blue, white and red tin. I would give a solid six out of ten.
4. The Naughty List by L. A. Kelley
This is the first of three books in the Naughty List holiday fiction series. The other books in the series are $2.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. L.A. Kelley has been on this list before, we reviewed their book The Rules for Lying back in September of 2021.
From Maria Korolov:
David wakes up in a panic after a party. He thinks he’s forgotten to lock the vault on the other side of the building. He teleports over, and the door is open. The Book, with a capital “B,” is missing. He shudders thinking of the shame this will bring on this family. But wait — he still feels a mystical connection with the Book. It’s not too late. He can still follow the thread and find the Book and bring it back — or die trying.
After this promising beginning, we switch to the point of view of Rosalie, who works in a Florida department store that’s about to start getting ready for Christimas. She has a crush on a hot new hire there. She’s an average-looking brunette, and socially awkward, but the hot guy hasn’t hooked up with any of the flashy girls yet, so she thinks she might have a chance. She’s also hoping for a promotion, but her hopes get dashed.
Then we switch to yet another point of view. Billy, a hellhound, trying to track down David. Apparently, some gods think that David’s the one who stole the Book, and it’s Billy’s job to find him.
Then we switch back to Rosalie, who’s finally home after a long day at work. She’s alone, setting up a bedraggled artificial Christmas tree.
Then we switch back to David. He’s on his way south, flying with the wind, searching for the Book.
At the beginning of the next chapter, we’re back in the department store. The new manager has fired a bunch of people and the there’s a lot of tension in the air in the store.
I’m actually getting caught up in this. It feels a bit like a pleasant Hallmark holiday movie. Rosalie is a sympathetic character, and the store and its customers really mean a lot to her. I can see myself finishing the book this weekend.
3. Curse of Immortality by Pearl Beacon and Elin Peer
This is the first of three books in the Orenda fantasy series. The second book in the series is $4.99, and the third book is currently available for pre-order and will be coming out on December 1, 2022. The entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Maeve was born in a small English village in the early sixteenth century and is now five hundred year old. When she and her twin sister was five years old, their mother took them to watch a witch get hanged. The witch — a young woman Maeve knew and liked — had allegedly cast a spell on a man to make him want to leave his wife and kids. It’s the second time they’ve seen a witch killed, and both girls are haunted by the experience.
Their father didn’t want them to go. In fact, he had healing abilities, and though that the whole witch thing was made up by the church to scare people. And his two daughters have powers, too. He’s been keeping it a secret from his wife, who believes in killing witches. Then the girls start arguing with each other and accidentally set a barn on fire. Their father bundles them up and flees the village to keep them safe. He takes them to his sister’s house, deep in the forest, hours away by horseback.
Then he leaves the girls with his sister for her to raise them and goes back to his wife. He plans to tell her that the girls died in the fire, and he was overcome with grief.
For the next nine years, the girls grow up with their aunt, who has constant nightmares about villages coming to burn them.
It’s a very slow beginning, and the old-fashioned, slightly distant writing style makes it hard to me to get immersed in the book. I don’t think I’ll be sticking with it.
2. The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss
This is the first of three books in the Seal Island mythology trilogy. The other books are $5.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Carla Nordlund:
We open with a prologue, set 200 years in the past. On a remote Irish island, Ian Quigley is tracking a selkie, watching her come up onto the beach and hide her pelt. He is almost drawn in by her siren song, but when her concentration is broken by a seabird’s cry, Ian seizes her pelt and commands her to him. The selkie walks slowly towards him, hating him more with each step.
The next chapter cuts to the present day, and we’re introduced to Tara Moore—an American running away from something murky in her past, determined to find a quiet and remote island to hide away for a while. She boards a ferry to Seal Island, somewhat put off by the ferry man’s ominous tales of selkies and legends that don’t have an ending. As the ferry nears the island, Tara briefly sees the figure of a woman outlined on the cliff before she vanishes into the mist.
After facing rape and violence at the hands of Ian Quigley during her imprisonment, the selkie sewed rocks into her dress hem, choosing to return to the sea even if it means her death. But cut off from her seal form, she is unable to truly reconnect to the sea and is trapped in limbo, a ghost of the island. Now, in the present day, the selkie watches Tara approach the island, hoping that the descendent of the one child of hers that she was able to save — by pushing into the ocean to let the seals take the baby away — will bring her resolution.
Tara marches into the island’s only pub and meets Dominic O’Sullivan. While Tara feels a sense of rightness in being on the island, Dominic is immediately wary, wondering what she is running from — and if it will catch up to her on the island. Despite his obvious need for help, he refuses Tara a job as a waitress. Tara argues, unwilling to back down, and the two come to an impasse.
It’s immediately apparent in the prologue that this is a gritty, original version of the selkie legend—we aren’t looking at love story, but a tale of possession and imprisonment. It sets a dark and moody tone for the book and creates a wonderful sense of suspense for the reader. I’m intrigued by Tara and already love the dynamic between her and Dominic. As an editor, I also admire the on-point pacing created by the point-of-view cuts between Tara and the selkie — it creates an exciting sense of mystery and broodiness. This is one I’ll definitely keep reading, as it encompasses so many of my favorite elements: Irish folklore, dark magical realism, and a somewhat-enemies-to-lovers romance.
1. From a Changeling Star by Jeffrey A. Carver
This is the first of two books in the Starstream Novels space opera science fiction series. The sequel is $4.99 and neither book is in Kindle Unlimited. Jeffrey A. Carver has been on this list before, we reviewed his book Dragons in the Stars back in May, 2021.
From N.T. Narbutovskih:
A space station circles in the fringes of a massive star, while hints at secrets that will reshape empires drop from the lips of those in power. Far away, at a lodge deep in the forest, a dead man comes home late with no recollection of the last few hours or of how he died.
Originally published in 1988, there’s a reason that this book has persisted as long as it has. From the very first word of the prologue, the reader is pulled in with a slow steady drip of information, and all of it implying a much larger secret. I am reminded of the opening chapters of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos with the introduction of only a few characters, and the deliberate and compelling fashion in which the plot proceeds. This book does an excellent job of opening with some amount of action, but does not fall into the modern trap of too much action and too high stakes immediately.
I can tell that this story is going to take a bent towards space opera just from the prologue. Anyone who enjoys intrigue, mystery, and a good bit of close personal action is really going to love this story. There’s very few books on the Free Friday lists that actually make me want to read more, but I found myself having to forcibly close the book and move on about my day, or I would have easily been funneled into spending it reading.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to read this incredible story for free — I will certainly be adding it at the top of my to be read pile.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria and Romel discuss all ten books in the video below: