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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. White Out by Clay Wise
This is a standalone book about survival after an EMP blast takes out the power grid. The author has several similar books on Amazon, two of which have also made the top ten list this year: Seeking Shelter, which we reviewed in September, and The Homestead, which we reviewed back in July.
From Amira Loutfi:
The first chapter is super cozy, but not the typical type of cozy with funny dialogue, silly characters, fluffy cats, mystery, and magic.
More like the kind of cozy like a slow, warm summer day, like the video game Life is Strange.
Alex is the only archer at her school and she’s getting ready for a tournament. She might win. After practice, she sees her best friend, Ashley, who tells her that she shouldn’t feel guilty or angry about surviving the horrible accident. What horrible accident? The one that happened exactly a year ago.
The next chapter introduces another set of cute characters. Layla, Kyle, and Sam. They work at a lodge where they offer climbing tours and river rafting. Layla has a habit of sacrificing her personal safety on the job. They are getting 2 feet of snow in a few days. That’s bad for business.
I’m guessing all these cutie-pies will be stuck together when the power goes out.
Nick is a small-town lawyer who works with Hannah, his paralegal. He’s married to Layla. This is going a bit slow for my taste.
Chapter four introduces more cute characters. These guys are inmates, though. One of them has a nasty scar. They sound dangerous, but also adorable. In the cafeteria, they are discussing something that was supposed to happen by 1 pm that day. The prisoners wonder for a moment if it’ll actually happen at all.
The ambiguous thing suddenly happens — and we know so because the entire prison goes into lockdown mode.
I seriously doubt that this EMP story will stop being adorable. The prisoners introduced in the fourth chapter are a little dark, which I think this story needs …
Will I be back to read the rest of it?
Probably not. I might. It’s cute, but if I came back I would probably do a lot of skimming.
2. To Kill a Fae by Jamie A. Waters
This is the first book in the four-book The Dragon Portal romantic fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The fourth book isn’t out yet. It is scheduled to be release in August of 2022.
From Amira Loutfi:
Sabine has a nasty reputation with the city of Akros. She’s clearly an assassin of sorts, and her weakness is fae magic. She can fight with poisoned knives and magic. The magic in this world is neat — she refers to it as “elemental” and “glamour.” Glamour magic is used for powerful disguises. Elemental magic can be used to summon the moon for more darkness. Sabine can also imbibe coins with magic. And she can smell magic, too.
Sabine is out late one night after a failed attempt to learn about the city council from an informant who turned out the be clueless. And now she’s being followed. It’s very common for people to be robbed or murdered in the streets of Akros at this time.
She is lightly armed and sees that her pursuers are armed to the teeth. Yikes. The magic in the air smells like it might be part fae. That scares her.
She kills two of them and then is about to kill another when he recites some ancient Fae verses to her, claiming he means her no harm. She is charmed by this and considers she probably shouldn’t kill him. She really wants to know about his relationship to the fae.
Then, a goblin shows up and helps to ease the tension. Sabine knows him! it’s Pozgil. Pozgil explains that the fae-speaker just arrived in Akros and he is escorting him to meet with his boss — the master of a guild of thieves.
Sabine also wants to reward a little beggar who gave her a warning about her assassins. She gives him a magic coin and starts to tell him about his career options. I like that part.
To be honest, I feel there are too many plot threads in this book and I can’t tell which one is the most important. If you are cool with an ambiguous plot then you might love this story. The atmosphere is awesome. I like the darkness. But I won’t be back.
3. Hood by Evan Pickering
This is the first book in the three-book American Rebirth Series, a post-apocalyptic retelling of the Robin Hood myth. The other books are $3.99 and $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m not a fan of post-apocalyptic stories. And I have a personal beef with any book that uses the word “smirked” — and it shows up in the first chapter. So I’m telling you that right from the start this book had some hurdles to overcome to win me over.
The action starts slow — the protagonist has to shoot someone he doesn’t know and agonizes over it. We don’t find out why, except that the other guy is a soldier for someone called the Kaiser.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with main characters who have concerns about killing people. But these days, I prefer stories that have fewer moral gray areas. There’s enough stress out the in the world today that for my escapist reading I want simple, black-and-white, fast-paced uncomplicated action.
Tomorrow, I might be in a different mood, but today this book isn’t doing it for me.
4. Time of Death by Nathan Van Coops
This is the first of two books in Paradox P.I. a sci-fi time travel mystery series. The other book is $2.99 each and is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I like this book from the first line. It has a film noir kind of private eye feel to it, but set in the present day. Gayson Travers, the private eye, has an AI assistant named Waldo and lots of cool gadgets. You would too, I guess, if you were a time traveler.
A wealthy, beautiful woman comes in and hires him to prove that her husband didn’t kill himself. He can’t stop the death, because it already happened, but he can go back in time and get the real story.
I love this book. Travers is cynical and funny, knows his job, and doesn’t agonize over it.
I will enjoy spending time with him this weekend. In fact, I’m having a hard time putting the book down to go on to the next one.
5. This Golden Coil by Kaylin Lee
This is the first of three books in the Ragnarök’s Edge romantic historical fantasy series. The other books are $2.99 each and are in Kindle Unlimited, with the third book due out in April of 2022.
From Maria Korolov:
The book starts slow, with Elin, a young elf, complaining to her aunt about having to stay with a babysitter while the aunt is off to find a warband or a ship that will hire her. She also claims to have seen the trickster god Loki, but her aunt doesn’t believe her. Loki doesn’t exist. Other realms don’t exist.
The aunt leaves every summer — she’s a shield maiden, one of the rare female Viking raiders.
Then the story skips ahead eight years, to when Elin is 14 years old. She’s still spending every summer with the babysitter, who treats her very unkindly. And she sees Loki again — he shows up, wounded, and Elin uses some magic to heal him.
It’s an extremely slow-paced story. Elin is extremely patient and hard-working, but I’m not getting invested in her character or story. Part of it is that I’m not a fan of young adult stories. I’m old and cranky, and I just want the young adults to get off my lawn.
6. Red Dragon’s Heart by Anastasia Wilde
This is the fourth book in the five-book Darkwing Dragons series of paranormal romance. The other books are $0.99 to $2.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
This is the fourth book in the series. I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone, so I’m going to review the first book in the series, Dark Dragon’s Mate.
A wolf shifter woman, Trish, is climbing up a mountain to a gothic castle to talk to Emon, the Draken Prince of al-Madeirri. Her wolf is going crazy internally, and she needs medication to help her control it. As she struggles up the mountain, a powerful storm breaks. She keeps going anyway. This scene takes place in an interdimensional bubble between the human world and the Dragonlands.
She needs to talk to Emon because he might be able to help her, but he’s dangerous and crazy. I like that. Emon is a dragon. Rumor has it that Emon is mentally unstable and too wild to go near civilization. He’d rather just huddle in the castle with his servants, treasure, and crazy sister. Trish is hoping that he can help her before he completely loses his mind.
And then she sees a dragon up in the sky. He is beautiful and seems to be deliberately throwing himself into the lightning. He get hit a few times and keeps flying about.
The next chapter is from his point of view and he is deliberately flying into the lightning. It hurts, but he likes it. And then he sees Trish and almost kills her.
Seems like they will fall in love.
This is awesome. I might buy this book. I like the nuttiness.
7. Right Through Me by Shannon McKenna
This is the first of four books in The Obsidian Files of paranormal romance books. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Noah Gallager is the 32-year-old CEO of Angel Enterprises. His sister gets a belly dancer to come to the company and she does a dance right in the middle of the conference room, in front of everyone — including Noah’s fiancee, Simone. Not even his combat implants can make him look away from the belly dancer. The dance just hijacks all his thoughts, emotion, everything, right in front of everyone, overloading his systems. He can’t get control over himself. And he has the feeling that he’s seen the dancer before.
Then we switch to the dancer’s point of view. Her name is Caro, and she thinks that Noah is gorgeous.
The whole situation is super uncomfortable for her. It’s clear that the CEO’s little sister made a huge mistake to hire a belly dancer to just come and show up at the office.
As soon as she finishes her dance, Caro leaves to change. She takes off her makeup, puts on loose clothing, changes her wig, and puts in a mouth prosthesis that changes the shape of her jaw. She’s in hiding.
As she leaves, Noah tries to talk to her, but she gets on the elevator in time and is able to escape. As she gets into a cab, Noah runs out of the building after her, but not in time to catch up.
Then we’re back to Noah again. He was able to recognize Caro even her disguise because he can see energy signatures, and hers is unique and the most beautiful he’d ever seen.
So, first off, this is not my type of story at all. The romantic elements are over the top. The premise is ridiculous. I had to restrain myself from groaning at every other line.
But I could not stop reading.
This book is so addictive. Like one of those pints of ice cream with triple the normal fat content that you’re only going to have a couple of spoons of and then eat the whole thing in what feels like seconds.
8. Fae Hunter by Sarah K. L. Wilson
This is the first of five books in the Fae Hunter Series of young adult romantic urban fantasy. The other books are $3.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
This one is about Allie, a human girl, who wants to kill all the fae.
Allie loses her sister, Hulana, at the stone circle near their village. It was sort of their fault though. The two sisters performed a forbidden dance that called the fae. After taking Hulana, another fae appears and chases Allie until she knocks into something and blacks out. It was pretty scary.
She wakes up at home the next day and can hear her parents looking for her sister. But then — she can’t see! Oh no! I am enjoying this so much! Her vision has changed drastically — she can see her parents in weird blurs and can also see strange animal tracks all over her home, a light in the attic, and silver trails. She can also see a fae that walks around town every once in a while. It steals a goat out of her father’s goat pen while they have guests over. She doesn’t tell anyone what she can see, though.
A friend of hers, Olin, offers to help her get her sister back. Hulana is very pretty, so he’s probably in love with her.
I’m already five chapters in. I think this story moves a bit slow, but it’s still pretty good.
Too slow for me. I won’t be back.
9. Demetrius by Marie Johnston
This is the first of eight books in the New Vampire Disorder paranormal romance series. The other books are $0.99 to $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
Calli is a child in the opening scene, listening to her parents fight. Part of the argument is about how weak the vampire council is. Her father accuses her mother of using and abusing her. The mother seems pretty evil — she laughs when punishing servants and Calli is scared of her sometimes. Then, the argument suddenly goes silent. Her father goes to her room and tells her that her mother has gone and may never come back.
Seventeen years later, Calli is living with her father in their mansion. It’s riches to rags. They had to sell everything they owned to survive. And Calli even got a job. When she arrives home one day, she finds her father talking to a demon. Then, the demon dissolves and is absorbed by her father. That’s never good.
She does exactly what I would do in such a situation. Google. And her fears are confirmed. Her father is totally possessed by a demon.
Demetrius is leading the Trispecies Synod, a snarky team that gives him attitude. They’re trying to figure out a way to bring the vampires and shifters together into a unified governance structure. The shifters, of course, have their “guardian ranks” and are just getting used to incorporating vampires. Demetrius wants proof that vampires are still working with demons. The previous governance structure — the Vampire Council — had been working demons and the dark arts.
In the middle of these discussions with his team — he gets interrupted by something even more urgent. It’s Calli. And when they meet Demetrius is pretty rude. Looking her up and down and being inappropriately flirty. She mentions his groupies — insisting she’s not one of them. Unnecessary. He can tell that she hates him. She then opens up about her father.
I will not come back to read this, but I can understand why others like it so much.
10. Star Splinter by J G Cressey
This is the first of three books in the Fractured Space Series, a space opera. The other books are $0.99 to $2.99 each and are both in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I love space operas, and I love the light-hearted, military-sci-fi feel of the cover.
The book starts out with Lieutenant Cal Harper punching out a superior officer after the captain needlessly sent men to their deaths.
He resigns and is sent back to Earth. At least he’s not being sent back to one of the thousands of second-rate colonies — or, even worse, a prison planet.
Meanwhile, Jumper Decoux is a big game hunter on Mars. For forty years, he’s been hunting dinosaurs, which, as it turns out, make tasty steaks and burgers. Seems in the future, humans decided to build Jurassic Park somewhere else other than Earth. Smart. Anyway, he kills a dinosaur and waits for it to get picked up, but instead sees a ship on a crash course.
Back to Cal. Something goes wrong on the Earth, and he’s woken up early from cryo-sleep. He and the other waking passengers try to regain control of the ship and fail, and it finally crashes down into a jungle. The other three passengers are a young man who looks more like a surfer than a soldier, a young woman in a buzz cut and combat fatigues, and a teenage boy and his android wife.
Cal recognizes the area where they landed — it’s the Big Game Zone on Mars. And if their craft has been redirected to Mars, then something must have gone seriously wrong — and help probably isn’t arriving.
Do you have other free books for us to check out? Comment below or email me at [email protected].
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
Watch Amira and Maria discuss the book in the video below: