Some articles may include Amazon affiliate links. All proceeds go to helping us pay for original stories and to support writers of speculative fiction. Read more here.
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. Pack of Secrets by Amara Mae
This is the first of two books in the Celestial Artifacts urban fantasy romance series. The sequel is currently available for pre-order and will be coming out Nov. 29, 2022. The series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Christina Brown:
Grace is part of a shape-shifting wolf pack. She has been nothing but a disappointment to her father and pack leader because of her inability to shift, but is a well-trained fighter who can take out most of the wolves even without her shifting ability.
Her inner wolf has somehow been caged and she is prevented from shifting. Her entire pack, including her father seems to hate her because of it. But Grace still follows her pack and agrees with the others that her dad is a good and capable leader, though he rules with violence and authoritarianism.
The story moves to couple years later and she’s on a heist to steal an artifact for the pack. The pack that will dismember her if she fails. And she wants to be accepted by them for some reason.
After the alarms go off during the heist, Grace runs but is attacked by a sexy man in sweatpants. He tries to kill her, but she is able to reach into the depths of his soul and release all of his repressed anger and grief on him at once, incapacitating him. It opens him up to attack, but instead she heals him and flees.
There is action and things move a long at a decent enough pace, but it stalls out a lot with her repeated internalizations of whether or not her father will kill her and how sexy her attempted murderer is.
It’s an interesting story line and Grace is likeable and pretty fierce. But it’s hard to understand why she deals with her pack when they all want her dead because of something that is no fault of her own. But I am intrigued enough with what’s happening, and I find her magic very cool, so I might just keep reading.
9. The Shadows of Wonderland by Isadora Brown
This is a boxset of the first three of six books in the Shadows of Wonderland paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Romel Madray:
In the little town of Wonderland, Alice is one of the downtrodden unmagicked. She is the daughter of the Wonderland Chief of Police. Also, she’s a cop but not really a cop — she works in records — and she’s poking her nose into the death of her friend Anna Skaarsguard.
Then Rumplestilskin, one of the local bad boys, pays her a visit at the station to discuss the death of poor Anna. Alice’s clearly got the hots for Rumplestilskin, as she is scoping him out from head to toe.
There is mounting sexual innuendo, at least on Alice’s part, as they discuss Anna’s death in the station hallway. Well, that’s one way to break the ice.
However, he’s clearly got a horse in the race and his own agenda to boot. There is also a baddie floating around called the Mad Mage, who our glam big shot Red Queen banished but I am guessing all will be revealed later.
The pacing is good, it’s a well written and fun read, for those into the genre. As a procedural I would give it eight of ten.
8. Her Detective Dragon by Alice Summer
This is the first of five books in the Lone Dragons paranormal romance series. The other books are $2.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Romel Madray:
Ana, an aspiring and struggling artist, has just been fired, had a crappy date, been dumped on the side of the road, and finally she gets caught in a torrential downpour. This sounds like a country song.
Then we meet the dragon, and it’s not a euphemism. Grisson is a shapeshifting dragon and also a gym rat, cop, and localized weather influencer. He’s in a crappy mood and that means our aforementioned tropical downpour that Ana is getting soaked in. Now I know why the weather guy is wrong sixty percent of the time.
As a dragon, he doesn’t mind the rain, he drives off in his SUV, and sees Ana’s sexy body and he wants to personally warm her up.
The writing is good, clear and moves seamlessly. Pretty much a romance procedural, with shifting perspectives of our two main characters. An easy read, especially as winter is coming and readers might want to warm up without being charred.
Not my sort of fiction but for those who like the romantic fantasy genre definitely worth a go. A solid eight out of ten.
7. Humanity Series by Seth Rain
This is a collection of the entire five-book Humanity dystopian sci-fi series. Usually the books are $0.99 to $3.99, and the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m not a fan of dystopian sci-fi, though I have read and liked the occasional book here and there.
The book starts with Scott looking down at his hand. There’s a tattoo on his palm, with the day of his death. It’s the same date as the date on his watch, and it’s now fourteen minutes until midnight. He looks out the window, and there’s a watcher looking at him, standing in the rain under a streetlamp.
Then a woman bangs on his door, begging for his help. There’s someone on the roof, standing right on the edge. The watcher is there, too.
The man on the roof is Jason, one of Scott’s neighbors, and tomorrow it’s Jason’s death day.
Jason was ten when he found out the day he was going to die. The day, but not the year. It’s too much for Jason, and he throws himself off the roof.
Scott is relieved to find out that the watcher must have been there to watch Jason die, not him.
Then the watcher tells him that no — he’s there for Scott. And the date tattooed on Scott’s hand might be wrong. And it’s being contested.
And now we find out what’s going on. Seems that 144,000 people have been chosen as part of the Second Coming and the Rapture. And as part of the process, they get the day of their death tattooed on them. But the date is chosen by an AI, not by some magical force. If the AI is wrong about Scott’s date, then it might be wrong about everything.
It’s an interesting premise, and the book is very readable, but it’s a little too grim for me, so I’m not going to keep reading.
6. One If By Land by Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
This is the first of six books in the Chronicles of Winland Underwood military fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. Martha Carr and Michael Anderle have been on this list before. This past October we reviewed their book Get Smoked of Go Home, This past July, we reviewed their book Magic Inc., the first of eight books in The Evermores Chronicles cozy mystery series. And, this past May, we reviewed their book The Return of Raven, the first of eight books in the WarMage Redux high fantasy series.
One If By Land is part of the Oriceran Universe, which has two dozen other series in it, and some of the plot threads and characters call back to other books. If you like these authors and the premise, you might want to start from the beginning, following the suggested Oriceran Universe reading order. That means starting with The Leira Chronicles series, which is, luckily enough, also in Kindle Unlimited.
From Carla Nordlund:
Two months after leading a band of magical refugees deep into the Ozarks, light elf and witch Winland Underwood still only trusts herself to watch the perimeter of their new home, a turn-of-the-century abandoned ghost town. On the edge of the woods, she detects a shimmer of old magic, but can’t pinpoint where or what it might be. Back in the town, Winland makes her way through the main street, thinking of all the work the group has accomplished in repairing and making the town a home, and what more is left to do. While checking on a group refurbishing a building, Winland again feels traces of old magic. After more searching, she discovers what she believes to be symbols of dark magic in the building’s corner, although they are slightly altered. Unnerved, Winland convinces herself that she can handle any trouble without calling her father, the Fixer.
Ten miles due east, Belmont Frasier, a wizard, also feels that something is wrong. Along with his Newfoundland dog, Minnie, Belmont pushes towards his friend Sawyer’s cabin. Belmont and Minnie run into the invisible wards earlier than expected, and Belmont is met with a terrible sight: his friend Sawyer’s murdered and burned skeleton. Belmont pulls a ring off of his friend’s hand, but then feels a shudder of dark magic. He and Minnie race for the door, barely getting outside in time for him to seal the cabin shut. Belmont laments that Sawyer’s death marks another defeat for the Custodians.
He and Minnie sneak into East Calico Rock, the new home of Winland and her band of refugees. Belmont is aghast that he hasn’t felt them move in, yet another sign that the wards are slipping. He sneaks through the town and into the abandoned building Winland and her neighbors are fixing through a secret entrance. He looks down to see Winland use a minor spell, and he confronts the group, yelling at them to not use magic. Winland calls up to him, but he disappears, shaking her off as he escapes through the maze of tunnels through the building.
Although this isn’t the typical paranormal book I usually go for, I’m intrigued. The authors do an excellent job of laying down the stakes right away, but leave enough mystery and questions that I want to keep reading. I also adore a good dog companion, and Minnie gets ten out of ten in my book.
5. Dead Blood by Jay Bower
This is the first of three books in the Dead Blood dystopian science fiction series. The other books in the series are $0.99 to $2.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
First, the obligatory disclaimer. I’m not a fan of dystopian fiction, nor of zombie apocalypses. In fact, I’m a little scared of scary books in general.
And video games.
Also — roller coasters. Basically, anything which can’t actually do me harm. But in real life? I can face just about anything. Aren’t human brains just the weirdest?
Anyway… Dorian Wilde awakened two months ago and is now driven mad by the scent of blood. Mad with lust, that is. But Dorian isn’t all bad. He lets people go if they have children. He’ll even protect them from the zombies.
The book starts out with Dorian stalking a man to where he’s hiding out in a senior citizen center, avoiding the shambling, brainless undead that keep getting in his way. But not avoiding them well enough, since he falls victim to a pack and is bitten on the neck before he can escape. And the noise frightens away the man he was hunting.
I can’t figure out who he is. Is he a vampire? In the next chapter, he lures a woman back to his lair by pretending to be human and promising safety.
I don’t like him, and I don’t like spending time in this guy’s head. I don’t like how he manipulates the woman. It’s so creepy.
I’m not going to keep reading, but if you like creepy stories, you might enjoy this one.
4. The Solid-State Shuffle by Jeffrey A. Ballard
This is the first of five books in the Sunken City Capers mystery science fiction series. The other books are $0.99 to $3.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
It’s about a hundred years in the future, and a major earthquake has taken out most of the west coast.
Isa is a thief and the book starts out with her, her boyfriend, and her gay best friend as they carry out a major theft under water in what used to be Seattle.
I love the pacing, the banter between the characters, and the premise. It reminds me a bit of J.D. Robb’s In Death series, except from the point of view of the criminal instead of the cop.
The three normally don’t like to do jobs close to home but made an exception because they need the money — they’ve just bought a set of very expensive identity chips and they love being able to pass for regular, law-abiding citizens and do normal things.
But now they’re on the radar of another local gang, and things are getting tense.
I like the story so far and had a hard time putting it down to go to do the rest of this article. I’ll definitely be coming back and finishing it this weekend.
3. The Stone of Knowing by Allan Packer
This is the first of six books in The Stone Cycle coming of age fantasy series. The other books are $0.99 to $2.99 each, and the sixth book in currently available for pre-order and will be coming out Dec. 15, 2022. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I normally enjoy epic fantasy, but I’m having a hard time getting into this book. Mostly it’s weird personal issues with the author’s choice of verbs that makes the writing sound awkward to my ears. But that could just be me.
In the prologue, we meet an unnamed king, and his unnamed commander, who are plotting to destroy a village in the foreign kingdom of Arvenon. The commander is looking to something in particular in Arvenon, a prize beyond price. He’s going to leave nothing alive in his quest to find it.
Whatever it is.
Then, in the first chapter, we meet Thomas, a youth who finds a small, smooth stone on his way home. He’s a stable hand and works for the king of Arvenon. He wants to have a dog of his own, but his father refuses to let him have one. They have enough to do taking care of the king’s hounds.
Soon after finding the stone, he comes across an underfed dog in the road. But when he touches his stone, he sees that the dog is actually a savage wolf and runs away.
A farmer kills the animal, and it turns out to be just a dog, after all, not a wolf — but it was rabid.
That night, Thomas dreams of wild and menacing creatures and of a young woman with wild and fiery eyes.
The book starts slowly, a little too slowly for me, and the main character doesn’t pull me in. Plus, the writing style strikes me as a little old-fashioned. I don’t think I’ll be sticking with it.
2. Laird Wolf by Vivian Arend
This is the eighth of fourteen books in the Northern Lights Shifters paranormal romance series. The other books are $2.99 each, but the first book is also free today. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited. Vivian Arend has been on this list before. We reviewed the first two books of the Northern Lights Shifters series back in August of 2021.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m not a fan of paranormal romance, and am especially not a fan of books with naked male chests on the cover. But I know a lot of people are — the author has been on the New York Times bestseller list.
So I’m going to try to keep an open mind. Plus, sometimes these books surprise me and I wind up reading them despite my initial reservations.
The book starts out with Damon driving a motorcycle down a highway in Scotland after flying in from New York on the redeye.
It’s June, and it’s raining, but he’s pushing on despite his chattering teeth. Only the fact that he’s a shape shifter is keeping him from getting hypothermia. He’s on a rescue mission, to save a woman named Addie MacShay, the best friend of his best friend’s wife.
Then the back tire blows up, landing him waist-deep in a sludge-bottomed fishpond just as he gets to his destination.
He’s bare-chested, wringing the water out of his shift, when Addie comes out of the house to meet him. He’s immediately attracted to her. And, even though they’ve never met before, as soon as she sees him, she throws herself into his arms.
Then we switch to Addie’s point of view. She’s been waiting for her best friend to come to her rescue. And there’s a reason she’s kissing him. She’s got a magical power that requires close physical contact.
Then she introduces Damon to the other residents of the house (who are the two brothers she works fo) as her boyfriend and takes him up to her room. Where he strips so he can wash and change, and she gets to see him naked. Because of course she does.
Then we switch back to Damon’s point of view. He’s showered and dressed, and finally finds out what’s going on. Seems that Addie is cataloging the contents of the house. Its owner has died and now the courts are going to decide which of the two brothers is going to inherit it. And the brothers — who are also shape-shifters, tigers — are giving her the creeps.
Oh, and Addie is a wolf shifter as well.
I like the banter here, and the premise, and the sexual tension. I might keep reading. I know, I’m surprised as well!
1. The Hartford Homestead by Marie Wilkens
This is a standalone book of EMP survival. Usually it’s $0.99, but today it’s free. It is in Kindle Unlimited. Marie Wilkens has been on this list before. We reviewed her book Final light this last October.
From Alex Korolov:
This is an EMP book where an electromagnetic pulse knocks down all power, and people are left to fend for themselves in a post-apocalyptic scenario.
I read the first few chapters, and I’d like to keep reading. The book doesn’t get to the EMP until the beginning of chapter three, so the first two chapters are about getting to know the main character.
Tasha Deavers is a journalist working in New York City who also misses the quiet rural life she had in Kentucky.
She’s getting ready to do an interview with some famous guy, and it’s supposed to be a really important one.
Tasha and her assistant Harley notice that the guy they’re supposed to interview is running late, so they start to talk about how different New York is from the rural life they grew up in.
After Conner Davis — the big interview — hasn’t shown up after over half an hour, Tasha leaves the interview room to see what’s going on, and it turns out everyone is running around freaking out.
I like that she didn’t even notice an EMP had happened for a while. In a lot of EMP books, the main character seems to instantly know an EMP has hit and also happens to be some kind of super prepper who knows exactly what they have to do to survive.
This one started out a little different, and that’s enough to make me want to read on.
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
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: